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Residents in 22 Michigan counties should mask as COVID-19 numbers, hospitalizations rise

There are now 22 counties in Michigan at a high COVID-19 level, according to hospital and case data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and updated on Thursday nights. Residents in those areas should mask while indoors and in public, the CDC says.

Last week, there were 16 counties at the highest of three levels established in February by the CDC. Only three counties dropped off the list. Calhoun County, home to Battle Creek, went from high level orange last week to low level green, and Emmet County at the tip of the Lower Peninsula and Manistee County in northern west Michigan were downgraded to medium level.

Added to the list this week are: Luce, Schoolcraft, Delta and Marquette counties in the Upper Peninsula; Crawford, Charlevoix, Otsego and Presque Isle counties in the northern Lower Peninsula and Monroe County in the southeast.

Remaining on the list are: Chippewa and Mackinac counties in the U.P.; Cheboygan, Antrim, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse and Benzie counties in the north; and St. Clair, Macomb, Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw and Wayne counties in the southeast. Grand Traverse County has been on the list for three straight weeks.

Thirty total counties are yellow and the remaining 31 counties are green. West Michigan is the greenest area of the state. The southeast, the most populous area of Michigan, has seen the highest numbers.

RELATED: 8 northern Michigan counties see cases double: Michigan COVID data for Thursday, May 19

It is only at the high level orange that the CDC recommends universal masking while indoors and in public.

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.

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.

As the omicron swell subsided after record highs, 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’s seven-day average of new, confirmed cases was the highest on Wednesday that is has been since February. On Sunday and Monday, more than 19% of tests were positive for SARS-CoV-2, the highest single day percentages since Feb. 6.

There were, however, signs the rise is leveling. The total number of deaths this week compared to last week was about flat and the percentage of total tests that were positive was unchanged, according to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data.

As of Wednesday, May 18, there were 1,100 adult and 46 pediatric patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Michigan hospitals.

In mid-April, the state was reporting 482 adult and 14 pediatric patients with confirmed or suspected cases. At the worst of omicron, there were about 5,000 COVID patients in hospitals.

Seven Michigan hospitals — in Port Huron, Coldwater, Adrian, Monroe, Detroit and Howell — were operating at 100% capacity this week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Six more were at 95 to 99% capacity.

This as the number of COVID deaths in the United States ticked past 1 million this week, according to Johns Hopkins University. (The CDC is reporting about 998,500 deaths.)

The situation remains worst in the northeast. Rhode Island and Connecticut have the highest per-capita new cases in the last seven days, according to New York Times data. Michigan is No. 12 among states.

Read more on MLive:

Kids 5 to 11 may now get a COVID-19 booster

8 northern Michigan counties see cases double: Michigan COVID data for Thursday, May 19

As U.S. surpasses 1 million COVID deaths, cases rise in Michigan; positive tests, deaths are flat

COVID-19 spoils ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s stop in Saginaw’s Temple Theatre

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