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Michigan extends and expands face mask order to include younger kids

Gathering limits also will remain in place until Memorial Day weekend
Michigan's face mask order is expanding to include children age 2 to 4.
Michigan's face mask order is expanding to include children age 2 to 4.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 1:49 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Instead of expiring this month, Michigan’s face mask order will remain in place for at least another month.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced an extension of the gatherings and mask epidemic order on Friday. It will remain place until the beginning of Memorial Day weekend on May 24 and require masks on younger children.

The new order, which takes effect on April 26, requires children ages 2 to 4 to wear face coverings in child care facilities and at camps. Health officials say the order is based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce COVID-19 spread among young children.

Similar exceptions from wearing face coverings will continue, including for people who cannot medically tolerate a mask and for anyone exercising outdoors while maintaining 6 feet of social distancing.

Michigan’s gathering limits also will continue until May 24 at the current limits of 15 people from three households in residences. Non-residential gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people.

Outdoor gatherings can include up to 50 people in residential settings and up to 300 people in non-residential facilities. Indoor entertainment facilities are limited to 300 people while outdoor venues are limited to 1,000 people.

Athletic stadiums that develop and post infection control plans such as Comerica Park in Detroit can continue allowing fans up to 20% capacity.

Water parks, dance clubs and indoor children’s play areas are the only businesses that must remain closed entirely.

“Michigan continues to implement smart health policies and mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel.

State health officials say the three key metrics they track to determine COVID-19 spread around Michigan all are increasing at alarming levels this month. However, the rates of increase in all three statistics are beginning to decline.

  • The seven-day average percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has dropped for five consecutive days to 17.1%, but it remains 390% higher than the low set in February and over three percentage points above the previous 11-month high set in December.
  • The seven-day average of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased for eight weeks to 613.9 per million people every day. That represents a 475% increase from the low in February, but remains well below the record of 737.8 cases per million set on Nov. 14.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped for two consecutive days this week, but remain above 4,150. About 18.8% of inpatient hospital beds in Michigan are occupied by COVID-19 patients, which is 373% higher than the low set in February.

Michigan Nurses Association President Jamie Brown said nurses across the state are exhausted as some hospitals reach 100% patient capacity. Some nurses are forced to work 18-hour days.

“We are begging for everyone in the community to do their part. Stay home. Wear a mask. Get a vaccine when you are able,” Brown said. “We are barely able to keep our heads above water. We are in crisis. We need our communities’ help.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun again encouraged everyone age 16 or older to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Nearly 30% of the state’s adult population was fully vaccinated for the illness as of Friday and 44% have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Health care providers around Michigan have administered a total of 5.5 million doses of vaccine.

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