MDHHS Extends Epidemic Order, Strengthens Mask Requirements for Children
MICHIGAN - In efforts to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), has fast-tracked its highest public health order. What the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, is that children between the ages of 2-4, begin masking up. The Gatherings and Mask epidemic order is the strongest public health order in the Midwest. According to Bridge Michigan, there have been 59 cases of children who were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director, says that wearing a mask is very crucial while in public and social gatherings. She feels that there should be limits on indoor residential social events to include only 15 individuals. She feels out of the 15 individuals, it should not be more than three families. Elizabeth also feels that more extended testing is necessary for children participating in sport activities to be vaccinated.
Statistically, MDHHS is closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization. Michigan's metrics have been increasing for the past few weeks, however the rate of increase is declining. The presence of more infectious variants, such as the B 1.1.7 variant, threatens progress in control of the epidemic and MDHHS is monitoring frequently. Most recently:
-Positivity rate had increased for eight weeks but has seen a recent 5-day decline to 17.1%. However, this metric remains up 390% from the mid-February low and remains above the December peak of 14.4%.
-Statewide case rate has increased over the past eight weeks to 613.9 cases per million. The rate is more than 475% higher than the low in mid-February but remains below the peak of 737.8 cases per million on Saturday, Nov 14.
-Hospital capacity: The percent of inpatient beds dedicated to those with COVID-19 is now at 18.8%. This metric peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4, and is up 373% from the February low.
The nurse’s out cry is that everyone wears a mask, stays home and away from large crowds and public places. RN’s are exhausted because they do not know which patient to attend to first because hospitals are most at 100% capacity. Many are working over 18 hours a day without breaks. Jamie Brown, president of the Michigan Nurses Association stated, “We are begging for everyone in the community to do their part. Stay home. Wear a mask. Get a vaccine when you are able. We are barely able to keep our heads above water. We are in crisis. We need our communities’ help.”