The Ingham County Health Department will repeal its mask mandate on Feb. 19 at midnight for thousands of students.
“We are at a point in this pandemic in which public health strategies will begin to shift more towards personal responsibility as we learn to live with COVID-19 long-term,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said in a statement. “As a public health agency, we will continue to support local school districts by recommending evidence-based public health measures, educating on current guidance and practices, and making recommendations for staying safe and healthy.”
The emergency orders issued on Sept. 2, 2021, require masks in schools and details quarantine and isolation rules.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) ordered nursing homes statewide to provide on-site COVID-19 vaccines to residents within 30 days.
“With the Omicron variant rapidly spreading across our state and cases of COVID-19 continuing to remain high, we want to make sure our most vulnerable Michiganders are protected from the virus,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “The COVID-19 vaccine is our best defense against the virus, and we want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get up to date.”
Under the order, nursing homes must offer on-site doses of COVID-19 vaccines to residents who are not up to date as of Jan. 20, 2022. The order doesn’t force residents to get vaccinated.
Families who get their child in the 5- to 11-year-old age group vaccinated for COVID-19 are eligible for a new round of $200 incentives, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday.
Families will receive one $200 VISA gift card per child who receives both doses between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, the news release said. Registration for the gift cards, which is possible following completion of the series, opens at 10 a.m. Jan. 24 and closes at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 28.
“In light of the Omicron variant, there is a new sense of urgency in our response, and we are doing whatever we can to encourage Minnesotans to get their vaccine and keep themselves and their communities safe,” Minnesota Department of Health Information Officer Doug Schultz told The Center Square in an emailed statement Thursday. “Getting as many eligible Minnesotans vaccinated as possible is critical to helping curb the spread of COVID-19 and keep Minnesota families safe.”
With rankings near the bottom in five key categories, Ohio stands as one of the least safe states during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recently released report.
WalletHub, a personal finance website, ranked Ohio the fifth-least safe state in the nation based on data from five key areas, including COVID-19 transmission, positive tests, hospitalizations, deaths and the percentage of the eligible population vaccinated.
Ohio’s highest ranking was in transmission rate, which still ranked 35th. Its death rate was 41st, while vaccination rate (42nd), positive test rate (43rd) and hospitalization rate (44th) were among the worst in the country.
Arizona’s state police force is in the Pacific Northwest in an attempt to bolster its ranks. The push comes on the heels of news that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t allowing exceptions to his vaccine mandate.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety announced that they would be in Washington from Sept. 7 through Sept. 19 to recruit potential new officers.
Their counterpart, the Washington State Patrol, shared Arizona’s announcement on Twitter.
President Joe Biden’s plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for nursing home employees could damage further an industry struggling in Ohio, the executive director of the Ohio Health Care Association said.
Pete Van Runkle said the group is pro-vaccine but a federal mandate negatively could affect services to some of the most needy people in the state and be damaging to skilled nursing facilities.
“We believe the Biden Administration’s plan, at least articulated in the press conference, would be devastating to Ohio SNFs and to their staff and residents,” Van Runkle said. “While we support vaccination and recognize that it is the most effective defense against COVID-19, the proposed mandate does not account for staffing that is already stretched beyond the breaking point.”
The Center for Disease Control updated federal COVID guidance Friday with several major changes as schools around the country grapple with policies for students’ return in the fall.
The CDC urged schools to allow students to return to in-person classes whether or not they are vaccinated as most studies showed significant learning loss during remote-only or hybrid teaching models.
The agency also said teachers and students should wear masks unless they have gotten the vaccine, a recommendation that is certain to drive controversy.
Half of all Arizonans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ most recent data released Thursday morning.
Of Arizona’s population of 7,189,020, the ADHS said that the 50% mark was hit with Thursday’s update that 3,594,004 people have now received at least one dose of vaccine. Of those, 3,186,689 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of July 8, with a total of 6,590,483 vaccine doses administered in the Grand Canyon state.
Arizona vaccine distribution peaked in April and began to downturn in May. The ADHS opened several state-run vaccination sites in Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma counties, all of which closed by the end of June.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has once again ditched her COVID-19 reopening plan, announcing the state will drop its COVID-19 restrictions on June 22. Her previous plan dropped restrictions on July 1.
“Today is a day that we have all been looking forward to, as we can safely get back to normal day-to-day activities and put this pandemic behind us,” Whitmer said in a statement.
Whitmer thanked those who received vaccinations. She also thanked medical staff and other frontline workers.
Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday announced the end of Minnesota’s statewide mask requirement starting Friday, aligning Minnesota with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on face coverings.
“So, those peacetime emergencies are done and the business mitigations are coming to an end. I want to be clear it’s not the end of the pandemic, but it is the end of the pandemic for a lot of vaccinated folks,” he told reporters.
Minnesotans who aren’t fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday announced the state health department will align its policy with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on face coverings starting Saturday at 9 a.m.
“For more than a year, we’ve been following the best data and science to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The vast majority of us have trusted the scientists and experts to keep us safe during the pandemic, and it has worked. With millions of Michiganders fully vaccinated, we can now safely and confidently take the next step to get back to normal. The message is clear: vaccines work to protect you and your loved ones. If you have not yet received your vaccine, now is the time to sign up. This pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges of our lifetimes, but we came together as a state to persevere. We have all been working incredibly hard toward getting back to some sense of normalcy, and today’s news makes all of that work worthwhile.”
On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidance recommending “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”