Ingham County's Top Health Official: Michigan Isn't Ready To Relax Indoor Mask Requirements

May 12, 2021

Ingham County's top health official says it's not yet time to relax indoor mask requirements.

Speaking at a media briefing Tuesday, Health Officer Linda Vail said other states in the country are in a different situation than Michigan.

“They did not see this significant surge in cases that we are still trying to push ourselves down from, especially while we’re still waiting for hospitalizations to come down, positivity to come down.”

Coronavirus cases in the county are trending downward, but Vail said they still aren't at the levels seen around this time last year.

The World Health Organization has recommended that the percent positive remain below 5% for at least two weeks before governments consider reopening.

In the update, Vail added that East Lansing remains a hot spot for COVID-19 in Ingham County. According to a map of areas with the highest rates of COVID-19, the Water's Edge Apartment Complex in downtown East Lansing had one of the highest concentrations of cases.

Along with a higher number of COVID-19 cases in East Lansing, Vail reported almost one-third of new cases come from people ages 20 to 29 followed by the children ages 10 to 19.

As younger people are contracting the coronavirus, Vail said that hospitalization stays are shorter. 

Vail also reported the Black Michiganders in Ingham County are contracting COVID-19 at higher rates than before.

"50% more cases in our African American population by rate than our Caucasian population, so that is trending in the wrong direction," she said.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer's administration launched a Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities in April 2020 to address the statistic that Black Michiganders were dying at disproportionate rates due to COVID-19, when they only made up 14% of the state population.

Across the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has set up local vaccine clinics and testing centers to reach Black neighborhoods.