Ferndale Public Schools is mandating masks indoors for students and staff starting Monday as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise and metro Detroit counties, including Oakland County, are in the high community level for the virus.
The announcement about the mask mandate resuming appeared on the district’s website and indicates it’s an effort “to keep our students and staff healthy and our schools open.”
The mandate will stay in place at least through this period that Oakland County is in a high community level and the percent positivity is as high as it is, Bill Good, district spokesperson, told the Free Press.
“I know we all hoped we could avoid returning to masking in our buildings. However, at this time we believe it is best to follow the guidance of our local, state and federal health agencies,” Good said in the announcement.
Ferndale schools serve Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Oak Park and Royal Oak Township.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people in 16 Michigan counties wear masks in indoor, public places as the virus is surging and more people are being hospitalized.
It updated its map detailing community risk from COVID-19 with the 16 Michigan counties, including those in metro Detroit, in high risk and 28 Michigan counties in medium risk.
The counties in high risk are Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, St. Clair, Antrim, Benzie, Calhoun, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Mackinac and Manistee.
Public health officials in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties and the city of Detroit told the Free Press on Friday that they weren’t going to mandate masks at this time.
“Based on our guidance, we expect some entities, especially our higher-risk or group settings, to require it again while we’re at a high community level. This would include schools, public agencies, shelters, etc. if they’re not currently requiring universal masking indoors,” said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, spokesperson for the Washtenaw County Health Department.
Automakers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis also announced that they are requiring face masks at facilities in southeast Michigan because of the uptick in COVID-19 cases.
The CDC said the Michigan counties in medium risk are Gogebic, Ontonagon, Marquette, Presque Isle, Alpena, Montmorency, Otsego, Alcona, Crawford, Charlevoix, Leelanau, Kent, Barry, Kalamazoo, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Isabella, Ingham, Shiawassee, Saginaw, Midland, Bay, Genesee, Sanilac, Monroe, Lenawee and Jackson.
In those counties, people should talk with their health care provider about whether to wear a mask or take other precautions if they are at high risk for severe illness with COVID-19.
The virus is spreading because of the omicron subvariants BA.2 and BA.2.12.1.
The Michigan health department reported 903 adults and children were hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus Friday — more than double the number hospitalized a month ago, when 429 people with the virus were getting hospital care.
The pandemic peak in January saw more than 4,600 people hospitalized with the virus.
Michigan reached a seven-day average of 3,958 new daily cases on Wednesday — the highest point since February, when it was coming down from the initial omicron surge.
Staff writers Kristen Jordan Shamus and Eric D. Lawrence contributed to this report.
Contact Christina Hall: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Free Press.