Genesee Co. updates health orders, school guidance
GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WNEM) - While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in Genesee County and throughout Michigan, the Genesee County Health Department is updating its mask guidance.
Effective Feb. 22, GCHD is rescinding its public health emergency order for mask use in classrooms with children under the age of 5. Daycare centers should consult the current Licensing and Regulatory Affairs guidelines.
The guidance for public settings, including schools and childcare settings, comes as Michigan is entering a post-surge, recovery phase, the GCHD stated. The county’s guidance will reflect the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated guidance issued on Feb. 16.
Moving forward, the state guidelines breaks the COVID-19 cycle into three key phases:
- Response - Local and state public health implement rapid response to a surge, such as may be seen with a new variant. 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 county health department said the rates in the community are rapidly decreasing, vaccines are available and hospitalization utilization is recovering. There is no immediate resurgence predicted, as GCHD states, when looking at new variants of concern.
During the recovery phase, health officers will watch for conditions that may lead to a new wave. Public health strategies will also start to support personal responsibility as everyone adjusts to living with COVID-19 long-term, GCHD said.
Regardless of vaccination status, individuals still need to mask up in high-risk congregate settings including long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, jails and health care facilities.
Everyone should wear a mask during isolation and quarantine periods to stop the spread of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
GCHD said it will still support local school districts by recommending evidence-based public health measures, educating on current guidance and making recommendations to keep students and staff safe in schools.
Kayleigh Blaney, Deputy Health Officer of the Genesee County Health Department believes a lot of people are relieved about positive COVID-19 cases dropping like a brick in Genesee County.
“About six weeks ago we were close to a 40 percent positivity rate. Right now, we’re at 12.6 percent positivity. And then for cases, today we are at 177 cases per 100,000 population. Whereas just a month ago we were at about 1600. So, we’ve seen a pretty significant decrease even just in the last month,” Blaney said.
Blaney stopped short of saying we’re returning to normal.
“To say that this is a one hundred percent certainty that we’re going back to quote unquote normal, that’s not really a prediction that we can make based on how these variants have appeared. But hopefully this is the start to that if we can keep the variants at bay,” Blaney said.
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