by Scott McClallen
The Ingham County Health Department will repeal its mask mandate on Feb. 19 at midnight for thousands of students.
“We are at a point in this pandemic in which public health strategies will begin to shift more towards personal responsibility as we learn to live with COVID-19 long-term,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said in a statement. “As a public health agency, we will continue to support local school districts by recommending evidence-based public health measures, educating on current guidance and practices, and making recommendations for staying safe and healthy.”
The emergency orders issued on Sept. 2, 2021, require masks in schools and details quarantine and isolation rules.
Vail cited lower COVID numbers as prompting the decision, saying that COVID hospitalizations have dropped 34% from the peak.
Comparing the height of the Omicron surge to current data, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have declined by approximately 34.2%. A decline in pandemic risk indicators, as well as an increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates among eligible individuals, guides local public health jurisdictions to make critical decisions about emergency orders, mandates, and restrictions regarding COVID-19.
Currently, nearly 40% of 5-year-olds to 11-year-olds and 62% of 12-year-olds to 15-year-olds countywide have received a first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine.
About 73.3% of all eligible county residents have received at least their first COVID injection.
The advanced notice gives school districts time to prepare for the changes so students can stay in-person for the rest of the year.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends universal indoor masking by all people at K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
Last week, Oakland County parents sued over several school mask mandates, alleging they are illegal.
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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.