While the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, some public health officials in the places where the surge of cases is tapering off have reconsidered COVID-19 mitigation policies, including in Michigan.
A number of states across the US have begun lifting mask mandates and reconsidering mandates in school settings. Some states, such as California, have a mask mandate expiration only for those who are fully vaccinated. In Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the indoor mask mandate would be lifted across the state on February 28 without regard to vaccination status. The CDC still recommends that masks be worn in high-risk areas, regardless of vaccination status, and in schools.
On February 16, Michigan’s indoor mask mandate expired, including for school settings. The state has continued to strongly recommend vaccines for everyone ages five and up as the best way to protect against the virus, and due to vaccines, new treatment therapies and other interventions, the state was at a significantly better place to have mask optional policies. 66% of Michigan residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine according to the Lansing State Journal. However, recent surges of COVID-19 have hit the state particularly hard, with January of 2022 being the month with the highest number of pediatric hospitalizations due to COVID-19, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Hope College is also in the process of reevaluating COVID-19 measures. In a Campus Health email from February 17, the Campus Health Advisory Team announced that Hope has been working with the county health department on potential changes to COVID-19 mitigation measures, including changes to mask mandates. This comes at the heels of other announcements, including the CDC saying they expect new guidance to be available soon. Hope also announced that masks are optional during exercises at the Dow, DeVos Fieldhouse and the DeWitt Tennis Center.
The most recent Campus Health update states that beginning on Wednesday, February 23, masks will be optional at Hope except in classrooms and instructional spaces, college-owned vehicles, campus events or buildings where official signage indicates masks are required, and indoor employee workspaces.