Michigan health officials are recommending anyone above the age of 2 to wear a face mask while gathering indoors during the holiday season as the state battles the worst coronavirus spread in the nation.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that they will issue a face mask advisory for the holiday season as COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers continue to rise across the state.
“The increases in case counts, percent positivity and hospitalizations have us very concerned,” said MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel. “We are issuing the face mask advisory and are looking to Michiganders to do their part to help protect their friends, their families and their communities by wearing a mask in indoor settings and getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and flu as soon as possible if they have not already done so.”
Health officials are urging all people over the age of 2 years old to wear a face mask while gathering indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Businesses are also being encouraged to require face masks of all patrons and employees to help prevent the spread of COVID.
The health department’s latest mask advisory will “remain in effect until further notice,” officials wrote Friday.
MDHHS is also encouraging people to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new COVID guidance for the 2021-2022 holiday season. The CDC is encouraging people to get vaccinated for COVID, wear masks at gatherings, gather outdoors when possible, social distance and avoid crowded spaces.
“COVID-19 cases are high as we head into the holidays, and we must take every measure we can to keep our families and loved ones safe – which starts with getting vaccinated,” said Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian. “Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to children ages 5 and up, and boosters are available for eligible Michiganders. The holidays can be a time to spread great cheer and we recommend taking measures including wearing a mask indoors to not spread COVID-19 to loved ones.”
The announcement comes as the state of Michigan records the worst COVID-19 case numbers in the nation. Due to people moving indoors amid colder weather, relaxed COVID restrictions and a modest vaccination rate, Michigan has been experiencing yet another surge of virus spread over the last several months -- and it has continued to worsen in recent weeks.
As of Thursday, the state was moved into a “severe” risk category by Covid Act Now due to another rise in its daily new cases. As of Nov. 18, the group says Michigan is reporting 84 new COVID cases every day per every 100,000 residents.
On Wednesday, Michigan reported 14,561 new cases of COVID-19 and 242 virus-related deaths, which is a daily average of 7,280.5 cases over a two-day period. Wednesday’s update brings the total number of confirmed COVID cases in Michigan to 1,224,273, including 23,104 deaths. These numbers are up from 1,209,712 cases and 22,862 deaths, as of Monday.