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The proportion of children getting sick with COVID-19 is increasing, along with other concerning trends across the board, according to the latest data and modeling update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
The DHHS reports that, as of Tuesday, more than 90% of Michigan’s counties are at high transmission level and the number of active outbreaks is up 26% from last week. The most total outbreaks (108) and new outbreaks (71) came from K-12 school settings.
The proportion of cases among ages 0 to 9 in the last month are double the rates seen throughout the entire pandemic in Michigan, the department notes.
As compared to older age groups in the state, 10 to 19-year-olds are now experiencing a larger proportion of cases, as well.
Large factors in Michigan’s current COVID-19 surge are the higher transmissivity of the Delta variant and children returning to school. Younger children, particularly those under age 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine, are able to spread the virus to others in a classroom setting.
More children are now getting sick with COVID-19, leading to large outbreaks within schools, but less than half of Michigan’s school districts have so far implemented mandatory mask policies.
Currently, about 43% of Michigan school districts have mask mandates for grades K-12. The DHHS notes that case rates among children are higher in counties where school districts have not implemented such policies.
The Gov. Gretchen Whitmer administration has yet to issue a blanket statewide mask mandate for schools, and has signaled that one will not be coming.
Earlier this week, Republican members of a Senate committee passed four bills to stifle further COVID-19 restrictions in schools, including prohibitions on local mask mandates, vaccination requirements and testing protocols. The bill package now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
On Thursday, the COVID Act Now model updated Michigan’s risk level from “high” to “very high” — the second-highest risk level available. This is largely due to the “critical” number of daily new cases, which is currently 31 cases for every 100,000 residents over the last week.
As of Wednesday, a total of 983,109 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 20,597 have died from the virus.
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