Major updates to Michigan’s COVID guidance, including for schools

Michigan has entered the ‘recovery’ phase of the Omicron surge
Major updates to Michigan’s COVID guidance, including for schools
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 1:37 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 5:19 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As winter is passing and COVID transmission rates lower, health officials are adjusting their guidance.

Now, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is updating its COVID-19 guidance for Michigan residents, including for school settings. They say the decision was based on current conditions and low numbers of new COVID-19 cased in the community.

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“We are updating our guidance to reflect the fact the state has entered a post-surge, recovery phase,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “As we move through the phases of our COVID-19 response our recommendations will be updated to reflect the current status of transmission, while continuing to prioritize public health and promote health and wellness for all communities. We continue to strongly urge all residents ages 5 and older get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and to get boosted when eligible as the vaccine continues to be our best defense against the virus.”

Bagdasarian stressed that the change in guidance was not for health care, long-term care, corrections and other high-risk settings, given that the liklihood and consequences of infection are more serious in those places.

For isolation guidance, MDHHS says anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and or displays COVID-19 symptoms (without an alternate diagnosis or negative COVID-19 test) should isolate regardless of vaccination status. They say to isolate at home for the first five days then, if symptoms have improved or no symptoms developed, return to normal activities while wearing a well-fitted mask for the next five days to protect others.

If someone has a fever, they are asked to stay home until fever free for a period of 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications before returning to normal activities while wearing a well-fitted mask, until the 10-day period is complete. Or, if possible, they are asked to isolate at home for 10 days if unwilling/unable to wear a mask.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should also notify others whom they had contact with during the time they were contagious (beginning two days before symptoms started or testing positive if no symptoms are present). They are asked to prioritize notification of personal or household contacts and immunocompromised or high-risk individuals.

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MDHHS officials said quarantine guidance may be adjusted to respond to and control outbreaks within unique settings as needed. Individuals and local leaders should work with their health departments for outbreak response and follow additional quarantine recommendations as situations dictate to maintain a safer environment for community members.

The purpose of deferring some of the guidance to a local level is to help stop the spread of the disease in communities that have a spike of infections.

“Along with MDHHS’ updated guidance, there may also be local isolation and quarantine guidance, policies and/or orders from local health departments, organizations and/or school districts that must be followed,” MDHHS officials wrote in a relase. “Policies established by event organizers and businesses may be instituted to fit the specific needs of their customers and should be followed.”

K-12 schools will also see changes. The Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Child Care guidelines have been updated to provide updated recommendations to schools which includes revised recommendations around masking, which would permit students to be maskless in school.

“During the recovery phase, masks remain an important tool in mitigating spread of COVID-19. Individuals who feel sick, may be at higher risk of infection or who feel better protected when masked should choose when they feel comfortable masking.”

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