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Michigan drops recommendation to wear masks in most indoor settings

Mladen Borisov for Unsplash

Michigan's public health agency is dropping its recommendation for masking in most indoor settings, including schools.

That's as adult hospitalizations from COVID-19 have fallen from records set in mid January.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said masks should still be worn indoors in congregate settings like nursing homes, jails and prisons, and hospitals.

The agency said in the future, it will restore or drop masking and other recommendations based on three phases of a COVID surge.

The first phase is "response," when a resurgence is not imminently expected.

"Readiness" is when a surge of COVID-19 is expected.

The phased approach to recommendations for precautions appears to indicate the state is now planning to treat COVID-19 as a permanent infectious disease in the future.

In a press release, MDHHS said:

Michiganders should consider their individual and family members’ risk factors and vaccination status when making the personal decision whether to mask. Those with chronic illnesses or who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for poor outcomes from COVID-19 and would benefit most from masking in indoor settings. These risk factors may include age, medical conditions and vaccination status. MDHHS will continue to monitor the transmission of COVID-19 closely to assess risk across the state and adjust as conditions change. These changes could include the presence of a new variant that increases the risk to the public, or an increased number of cases that strains the health care system.

As of February 16, MDHHS said the state's overall total of confirmed COVID-19 cases was 2,042,013, and 31,271 people had died of the disease since the virus was first detected in Michigan in March 2020.

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.