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MDHHS updates mask guidance as state enters post-surge phase

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Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 1:41 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) - While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are declining in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is updating its mask guidance for public settings.

The COVID-19 cycle is broken down into three key phases as detailed by MDHHS:

  • Response – Local and state public health implement rapid response to a surge.The public may be advised to increase masking, testing and social distancing.
  • Recovery – Post-surge. No immediate resurgence predicted. Local and state public health will monitor conditions that could lead to future surges.
  • Readiness – A surge in cases is expected, with implications on severity of illness and hospital capacity. Increased communication to the public regarding possible new risks.

The decreases in cases and hospitalizations and increased access to vaccines, testing and treatment show the state is entering a post-surge and recovery phase, MDHHS said.

The state health department recommends all individuals continue universal masking in high-risk congregate settings, regardless of vaccination status. This includes long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, corrections facilities, jails and health care facilities.

“This is good news for Michigan,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “While Michigan hasn’t had statewide mask policies since last June, this updated guidance will underscore that we are getting back to normal. Let’s keep working together to build on our momentum so we can keep our kids learning in person.”

All individuals should wear a mask during isolation and quarantine periods to stop the spread of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.

MDHHS advises school districts and organizations to work with their local health department to determine mask policies for public meetings and large events.

“Individuals and families should assess their own risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission and make choices about when it makes sense to wear masks,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said. “We want to make sure individuals and local communities have the information and tools they need to make choices for their families based on their personal situation and local community conditions. We continue to strongly urge all residents ages 5 and older get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and to get boosted when eligible as the vaccine continues to be our best defense against the virus.”

The state health department said it will monitor the transmission of COVID-19 to assess risk across the state and adjust as conditions change.

MDHHS continues to recommend the use of layered mitigation strategies for Michiganders:

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19.Michiganders should get up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about vaccines and when you’re up to date at gov/COVIDVaccine.
  • After testing positive for COVID-19, individuals are encouraged to talk to their doctors about whether they meet eligibility criteria and should get antibody or antiviral treatment to help with their recovery. Learn more about COVID-19 Therapeutics.
  • Isolation and Quarantine.Staying away from others when you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19 are important tools to preventing further spread of the virus. Learn more about what happens when you have or are exposed to COVID-19
  • Get tested if you are exposed or have symptoms.Anyone with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. If you get tested because you have symptoms or were potentially exposed to the virus, you should stay away from others while you wait for your test result. Testing before unmasked gatherings provides an additional layer of protection.  Find a test site at gov/CoronavirusTest.
  • Take additional steps to protect yourself and others. For additional guidance on mitigation strategies see How to Protect Yourself and Others.
  • Get a free mask. Free KN95 masks are being distributed by community organizations, including local MDHHS offices, health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices. Residents who want masks can obtain masks from partner agencies across the state. Michiganders are asked to refer to partner websites or social media sites to find out about mask availability as opposed to calling sites.