MDHHS extends epidemic order, strengthens mask requirement for children

LANSING — Today, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended its gatherings and mask epidemic order.

The order – which preserves the strongest public health order in the Midwest – is designed to balance day-to-day activities while controlling the spread of COVID-19 and saving Michiganders’ lives, officials said. It includes expansion of mask requirements to children ages 2 to 4 to further protect the state’s residents.

Expanding the mask rule to children ages 2 to 4 requires a good faith effort to ensure that these children wear masks while in gatherings at childcare facilities or camps, officials said. It takes effect April 26. This addresses the increase in cases among younger Michiganders and follows recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

“Michigan continues to implement smart health policies and mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “This includes the requirement to wear a mask while in public and at gatherings, limits on indoor residential social gatherings larger than 15 people with no more than three households, and expanded testing requirements for youth sports. Additionally, the most important thing people can do right now is to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their families, and help us eliminate this virus once and for all.”

As of Friday, 29.5 percent of Michigan residents 16 and older had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and 44 percent had received at least a first dose.

“We know that wearing a mask significantly reduces the spread of infection and should be part of the comprehensive strategy to reduce COVID-19—including for children age 2 and up,” said Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Matthew Hornik. “Use of masks does not restrict oxygen in the lungs even in children, it is recommended to wear a mask with layers to filter droplets effectively.”

The order extension is through May 24. An infographic that highlights order requirements can be found on Michigan’s COVID-19 website.

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