LANSING, Mich. – The Ingham County Health Department is urging some schools within the county to avoid in-person learning for one week as coronavirus spread worsens throughout the state.
The ICHD is recommending local schools to pause in-person instruction for students in grades 6-12 for the week of April 12, which follows spring break, in an effort to prevent virus spread -- especially among those who traveled during the break. Officials say the temporary move to remote instruction should be coupled with rapid COVID-19 testing for students who have traveled.
“Looking at our percent positivity, case numbers and hospitalizations, I am deeply concerned,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “That said, looking at our vaccination rates I am really hopeful. We are at a turning point in the pandemic. By keeping students home from school an extra week and using rapid testing to screen travelers, we could turn the tide in our favor.”
The recommendation comes as the state of Michigan once again struggles with a surge in coronavirus infections, cases and hospitalizations. Coronavirus infections have been consistently rising in the state since mid-February, and have reached alarming numbers -- seeing single-day case totals as high as 8,413 (which was reported on Saturday). Hospitalizations have also been rising over the last several weeks, especially among younger age groups.
According to the ICHD, COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 300 percent in the last four weeks in the county. The positive percent rate of COVID tests in the county is 15.2 percent as of Monday, officials said. The 7-day average percent positivity rate for the entire state of Michigan is more than 14 percent, as of Saturday.
In response to the state’s surge, Detroit schools have taken a similar approach to what the ICHD is recommending. All Detroit public schools have shifted to remote learning for the next two weeks following their spring break in an effort to slow virus spread.
The last time Michigan saw a COVID-19 spike of this magnitude -- in October and November -- the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a pause that shut down indoor dining, gatherings and much more for more than two months. This time around, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer instead said the focus will remain on mask wearing and vaccinations, which have been ramping up around the state.
As of Monday, April 5, all Michiganders aged 16 years old and older are eligible to schedule their COVID-19 vaccination.
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