FILE - Masked kids in front of school bus

(The Center Square) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be issuing a face mask advisory effective until further notice. The agency is also offering guidance for the holidays, citing an increase in COVID-19 and flu cases.

MDHHS will issue a Public Health Advisory that recommends everyone over the age of two should wear a face mask at indoor gatherings regardless of vaccination status. The agency recommends establishments implement a mask policy.

“The increases in case counts, percent positivity and hospitalizations have us very concerned,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “We are issuing the face mask advisory and are looking to Michiganders to do their part to help protect their friends, their families and their communities by wearing a mask in indoor settings and getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and flu as soon as possible if they have not already done so.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued recommendations for safe gatherings, including getting vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands.

“COVID-19 cases are high as we head into the holidays, and we must take every measure we can to keep our families and loved ones safe – which starts with getting vaccinated,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said in a statement. “Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to children ages 5 and up, and boosters are available for eligible Michiganders. The holidays can be a time to spread great cheer and we recommend taking measures including wearing a mask indoors to not spread COVID-19 to loved ones.”

MDHHS recommends staying home if you don’t feel well and getting tested for COVID-19, and if you test positive, then seek monoclonal antibody treatment. 

Should a medical facility need to move into a crisis standard of care, routine practices are modified, procedures are canceled, resources are conserved, and scarce items might be reallocated. Hospitals aim to avoid reaching that crisis level.

President of Spectrum Health West Michigan Dr. Darryl Elmouchi said Spectrum Health currently has 370 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 86% of which are unvaccinated.

“What we’re seeing is truly unprecedented,” Elmouchi, said in a statement. “Our teams are tired but working hard to care for their communities. We’re counting on people to help us by getting vaccinated or getting a booster dose if eligible, wearing masks and being smart about holiday gatherings.”

For those traveling, health officials recommend individuals be fully vaccinated or delay travel until fully vaccinated, defined as two weeks after the completion of their primary vaccination series. State officials recommend testing for COVID-19 before and after you travel.

MDHHS also recommends:

  • Immunocompromised people should take all precautions of unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask.
  • Choose to wear a mask if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
  • If you are gathering with groups from multiple households from different areas across the state and country, consider additional precautions like getting tested for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of spreading to loved ones.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.