LANSING — With COVID-19 cases spiking throughout the state from the Delta variant, the state says there are no plans on reinstating restrictions.
Since last weekend, the state is averaging just over 906 COVID-19 cases per day. On Wednesday, there were 31 cases of the Delta variant in Wayne County and 356 Delta cases statewide.
As the state, like the rest of the country, grapples with the highly infectious variant, local school districts have been given autonomy on deciding mitigation strategies and most importantly whether to require masks.
“At this time, there are not any plans to enact additional public health orders,” Chelsea Wuth, associate public information officer at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) told The Arab American News. “We have provided guidance to schools to help them keep staff and students safe during in-person learning and recommendations on when Michiganders should consider wearing masks to protect themselves and others. We continue to monitor CDC guidance and will update our recommendations as necessary.”
Wuth said the state’s health officials continue to be concerned about variants and the spread of COVID-19. She also said officials knows the best way out of the pandemic is through strong public health interventions like wearing masks, testing, and most importantly the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
At this time, there are not any plans to enact additional public health orders. – Chelsea Wuth, MDHHS
Wayne County also recorded 1418 cases of the U.K. variant and 11 cases of the South African variant on Wednesday. The available COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be highly effective against the variants, diminishing their capacity to cause serious illness, hospitalization and death. But like other states, Michigan is still experiencing vaccine hesitancy leading to continued hospitalizations. With the rise of cases, some hospitals have been sounding the alarm over their staffs’ mounting frustrations.
“In Michigan, the number of cases has jumped 100 and 800 percent in the past two weeks, and hospitalizations statewide are up by about 35 percent,” Dr. Adnan Munkaraha, chief clinical officer at Henry Ford Health System, said. “They are weary and they are really frustrated. They are frustrated because people are refusing the vaccine, and then they are seeing some of these people being admitted to the hospital sick and then some of them dying.”
MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said that despite the rising cases and mounting frustrations, there are no plans to reinstate any COVID-19 restrictions at this time.
“There are no plans to implement any statewide gatherings or masking orders at this time,” she said. “We know right now that the best tool we have to fight COVID is the safe, effective vaccine.”
State Board of Education makes resolution regarding new school year, Detroit and Hamtramck require masks
In a recent meeting, the Michigan State Board of Education passed a resolution taking a hands-off approach and allowing local districts to make their own decisions regarding mask mandates for the new school year, even though the CDC recommends students and staff members wear masks indoors in school, regardless of vaccination status.
The same day the State Board of Education made its decision, Detroit Public Schools’ board approved a full reopening plan.
The Dearborn School District said it will roll out its back-to-school plan next week.
The Detroit Public Schools Community District is the state’s largest district with nearly 50,000 students.
The plan includes mandatory masks indoors in any campus building, regardless of vaccine status, weekly saliva testing of staff members, physical distancing of at least 3 feet between students, contact tracing and mandatory daily symptom and temperature checks.
The Hamtramck School District (HPS) also announced this week that it will be requiring masks be worn by staff and students, in classrooms and on school buses.
“Currently, the CDC guidelines recommend that masks are worn indoors regardless of vaccination,” the district said in a statement. “We will have in-person teaching and learning and continue with the extracurricular activities based on the current safety and health guidelines.”
HPS announced it will be open five days a week for in-person learning for the new school year. It also said it is allowing families to continue online schooling by providing a virtual option, with the district asking parents to make a commitment to the online option by Aug. 20.
The district said changes to its school year rules may change based on the spread of the virus and recommendations from public health officials.