Despite rising COVID cases and hospitalizations, CDC says Michiganders still willing to go mask-free

Six counties in northwest Michigan and Oakland County were upgraded this week from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ community levels of COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations rise statewide, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with Oakland, the second most populous county in the state, Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Kalkaska and Grand Traverse counties are now yellow, the CDC reported Thursday evening. In these areas, the CDC suggests people at high risk for severe illness speak to their health care providers about the need for masking and other precautions.

Almost Isle, Alpena, Alcona and Montmorency in the northeast of the Lower Peninsula remain yellow. The same goes for Washtenaw County, which had the most new cases per capita in the seven days ending Wednesday, April 27. (The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updates its COVID data once a week on Wednesdays.)

The rest of the state is green, meaning healthcare systems aren’t overwhelmed and few are suffering from serious illnesses.

Only at the highest level, orange, does the CDC, which relaxed its guidelines two months ago, recommend that all residents wear masks indoors and in public. (People with symptoms, testing positive, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask regardless of where they live.) Michigan has no orange counties.

To see how the CDC rates your county, check out the interactive map below:

Don’t see the map above? Click here.

RELATED: Michigan Reports Nearly 15,000 New COVID Cases Last Week; hospitalizations up around 20%

Levels are determined by new COVID cases and hospitalization data over the past seven days. The CDC considers new admissions per capita and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients.

High-level counties are now centered in the northeast part of the country, particularly in New York, Vermont and Maine.

As of Wednesday, there were 604 adult patients and 30 pediatric patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in hospitals across the state. This is an increase of approximately 20% over the previous week. The growth rate was around 2-3% in the previous two weeks, according to a weekly COVID report from Michigan.

However, the number of people on ventilators and in intensive care has decreased. There were around 14% fewer intensive care patients this week compared to the week of April 17. Deaths are also trending down.

Cases are on the rise. Since early April, the state has seen its seven-day average of new confirmed cases increase. Nearly 9% of tests came back positive from April 20 to Wednesday. In March, the weekly rate had fallen below the 4% mark.

RELATED: 62 of 83 counties see increase in cases: Michigan COVID data for Thursday, April 28

The numbers are increasing the most in the southeastern part of the state. This is where omicron first gained a foothold in late 2021 and early 2022.

The omicron sub-variant, BA.2, is the source of any surge. It is predominant in the United States and the Michigan region. It is said to be even more contagious than its predecessor.

So far, however, he’s not proving particularly deadly. Experts said so many people were infected during the omicron winter swell that most are protected, either by vaccination or natural immunity, or both.

Hospitals are not overwhelmed as they were in December and January.

Not every county in Michigan or the United States has a hospital, so each is assigned a Health Service Area, a geographic region that contains at least one hospital. Counties in each division are assigned the metrics calculated for the entire area and weighted by each county’s population, a CDC spokesperson said earlier.

Michigan has 83 counties and 25 health service areas, three of which extend beyond state lines, according to the CDC.

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