Advance Notice: Briefs

Livingston, Washtenaw counties cite faulty CDC data for incorrect COVID risk classification 

By: - January 23, 2023 6:26 am

Susan J. Demas

Health officials in both Livingston and Washtenaw counties are disputing their classifications this week as being at high-risk of COVID transmission.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that data indicated the two counties exceeded the threshold between “medium” and “high” risk.

However, local officials say the statistics being used were incorrect due to the addition of a backlog of cases from the past four months, which inflated the weekly case rate.

A statement on the Livingston County Health Department’s website says the CDC incorrectly counted them as new cases.

“CDC is reporting that Livingston County is at a High community level,” reads the statement. “However, according to our hospitalization rate/current cases we should be at a Medium level. A number of backlogged COVID-19 cases from 2022 were added to our case count this week. The CDC system received this information and counted these as new cases. We recommend residents proceed as though we have remained at a Medium level.”

The same appears to be true for Washtenaw County, which posted a similar notice on its website.

“The CDC is reporting that Washtenaw County is at a High community level,” said the statement. “However, according to our hospitalization rate/current cases we should be at a Medium level. A number of old/backlogged COVID-19 cases were added this week from 2-4 months ago. The CDC system is currently seeing the old cases as new cases. We recommend proceeding as though we remained at a Medium level this week.”

They were the only two counties listed as having a “high” transmission level. Thirty-one other counties across the state were at “medium” risk level and 50 counties were labeled at a “low” risk level.

At medium level, CDC guidance doesn’t require masking recommendations, although residents can wear a mask based on preference or risk. 

However, people with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask. If choosing to wear a mask, a multilayer surgical, KN95, or N95 mask is recommended rather than a cloth mask. 


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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.