(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended its gatherings and mask epidemic order on April 16.
The order includes the expansion of mask requirements to children ages 2 to 4.
"Michigan continues to implement smart health policies and mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director, in a press release. “This includes the requirement to wear a mask while in public and at gatherings, limits on indoor residential social gatherings larger than 15 people with no more than three households, and expanded testing requirements for youth sports. Additionally, the most important thing people can do right now is to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their families, and help us eliminate this virus once and for all.”
"More than 5.5 million doses of the safe and effective COVID vaccines have been administered in Michigan, and we are well on our way to vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and up," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. "However, I continue to be incredibly concerned about our state’s COVID-19 data. We are still very much fighting this pandemic and seeing concerning trends in new cases and hospitalizations. Michiganders need to be using every tool in our toolbox right now to get these cases and hospitalizations down. Just because something is open and legal does not mean you should be doing it. We all must continue doing what works to slow the spread of the disease by wearing masks, washing our hands, avoiding crowds and indoor gatherings, and making plans to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”
MDHHS says it has been closely monitoring metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks.
Michigan's metrics have been increasing for the past few weeks, although the rate of increase is declining, the state says.
Michigan's coronavirus case rate has been one of the worst in the nation. As of Thursday, there have been more than 770,000 total cases of the virus, with nearly 200,000 coming since the start of March.
According to The New York Times, Michigan has nine of the top 10 metro areas in the country with the greatest number of new COVID-19 cases. Owosso, Jackson, Flint, Detroit and Bay City are in the top five.
There are also around 166,800 active cases of coronavirus in Michigan as of Thursday, the highest it's been since Dec. 21 when the state was in the middle of a massive surge and a partial shutdown. Active cases have gone up nearly 415% since March 1.
Younger age groups are also getting COVID-19 more as older age groups are vaccinated. According to Beaumont Health, the fall and winter surge saw the average age of hospitalization around the mid-to-late 60s, but in this surge, it's in the early 50s.
As of April 15, there are nearly 4,000 people across the state hospitalized with COVID-19, and many hospitals are near capacity.
There are also 41 children hospitalized in the state with COVID-19, one of the highest numbers Michigan has seen since the pandemic bean last March.
Vaccinations are continuing, and the state has pushed vaccination as the best way to fight the virus. So far, there are more than 3.5 million Michiganders who are vaccinated, which accounts for 43.3% of the population.
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