Residents should mask in 16 Michigan counties as COVID cases continue to swell

This week, 16 Michigan counties are at what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider high COVID-19 levels, meaning residents there should take precautions and wear masks while in public and indoors.

Last week, only Grand Traverse County in northern Michigan was at a such a level, which considers recent COVID hospitalizations and new cases by area.

Now, these 15 counties are also on the list: Calhoun, Livingston, Washtenaw, Oakland, Wayne, Macomb and St. Clair County in southern and southeast Michigan; Manistee, Benzie, Antrim, Kalkaska, Emmet and Cheboygan in the northern Lower Peninsula; and Chippewa and Mackinac counties in the Upper Peninsula.

Twenty-eight counties, up from 19 last week, are medium level yellow and the remaining counties are green. It is only at the high level orange that the CDC recommends masking. However, people with symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask regardless of where they live, the CDC says, and people at high risk of severe illness might need to take additional precautions when in high COVID- 19 communities.

RELATED: Michigan COVID-19 deaths increase this week as cases, hospitalizations continue to rise

The northeastern part of the United States remains most affected by the recent surge in cases, but the impact is spreading west. Wisconsin and Minnesota are also spotted with orange and yellow.

Michigan ranks 11th by new per-capita cases in the last seven days among US states. Rhode Island and Massachusetts are No. 1 and 2. As of May 6, Michigan was ranked 14th.

To see how the CDC assessed your county, check out the interactive map below. Tap on or hover over a county to see the underlying data.

Can’t see the map above? Click here.

All but a handful of Michigan counties saw increases this week compared to last week. The state’s 7-day average of new, confirmed cases, 3,309, is the highest it has been since February. Cases dropped dramatically in March and early April.

Per-capita cases May 5 to Wednesday, May 11, compared to the previous seven days, were decreasing in Baraga County in the Upper Peninsula; Montmorency, Alpena, Oscoda Crawford and Gladwin counties in northeastern Michigan; Lake County in west Michigan; and Hillsdale County in southern Michigan.

As has been the situation for weeks, the southeast part of the state and Michigan’s population center, looks the worst. For two consecutive weeks, Washtenaw County had the most new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days.

Can’t see the map? Click here.

The interactive map below shows the seven-day average testing rate by county. You can put your cursor over a county to see the underlying data. Early in the pandemic, if 5% or more of tests were positive, this was cause for concern. Many counties, including Genesee, Livingston and Macomb, are seeing more than 20%.

Can’t see the map? Click here.

In February, as the omicron wave that sent case numbers skyrocketing subsided, the CDC relaxed its mask guidance, shifting from only looking at cases and positive tests to looking at cases and hospitalizations. The idea is to prevent severe disease and limit strain on hospitals.

A county is at a high level when there are more than 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days and 10 or more new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 people in the last week. (Not every county has a hospital, so each one is assigned a health services area, a geographic region that contains at least one hospital. Counties are attributed the metrics calculated for the entire area, weighted based on each county’s population.)

Michigan hospitals, as of Monday, were operating at about 79% capacity. Seven hospitals were at 100%. They included Bronson South Haven, Detroit Medical Center’s Harper University / Hutzel Women’s hospitals, Lake Huron Medical Center in Port Huron, McKenzie Health System in Sandusky, ProMedica Coldwater Regional Hospital, ProMedica CV Hickman Hospital in Adrian and Sinai Grace Hospital in Detroit.

Hurley Medical Center in Flint was at 99% capacity and five other hospitals were at 95% or greater.

Statewide, hospitals were treating 873 adult and 30 pediatric patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. About 100 adults were in intensive care.

On May 4, hospitals reported 708 adults and 29 pediatric patients with confirmed or suspected cases. Thirty-two were on ventilators and 94 adults were in intensive care.

Total hospitalizations have been increasing for five consecutive weeks.

According to a weekly state report dated Tuesday, the COVID-positive census in hospitals has increased 22% this week. This was the third week in a row of similar growth. The number of patients in intensive care, however, remains largely flat.

As the numbers rise, COVID-19 vaccinations figures remain largely flat. About 66.1% of the eligible population has received at least one shot. Almost 61% are fully vaccinated and about 37.3% of residents 12 and older have received both their primary doses and at least one booster shot. (Children younger than 12 are not eligible for booster shots.) Of those 12 and older and fully vaccinated, 60.7% have gotten a booster shot.

By age, about 60% of people 75 and older and about 64% of people 65 to 74 are fully vaccinated and boosted. This drops to about 14% of children 12 to 15 and less than 22% of teens 16 to 19. The rate is even less among those 20 to 29. About 19.8% of those in their 20s are fully vaccinated and boosted.

The interactive map below shows the number of people 5 and older who have received as least one dose. The numbers are based on the residence of the vaccine recipient versus where the vaccine was given.

Hold a cursor over a county to see the underlying data, which includes a breakdown by five age groups: Those 65 and older, people 40 to 64, adults 20 to 39, residents 12 to 19 and children 5 to 11.

Can’t see the map? Click here.

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