The Centers for Disease Control reported Wednesday night that Washtenaw County had “substantial” spread of COVID-19 between July 28 and Aug. 3. CDC guidelines define substantial spread as between 50 and 100 cases per 100,000, calculated as a 7-day average. For this time period, Washtenaw County had 50.60 cases per 100,000 residents. Neighboring counties Lenawee, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne also reached the level of “substantial” spread.
The CDC recommends everyone in areas with “substantial” or “high” spread wear a face covering regardless of vaccination status. The Washtenaw County Health Department issued a press release Wednesday morning recommending, but not mandating, all individuals wear a mask. County health officials urged residents to take the recommendations seriously, even in the absence of a mandate, as cases rise throughout Washtenaw County due to the delta variant.
The University of Michigan has not changed its guidelines regarding masks. Fully vaccinated individuals who report their vaccination status to the University may continue to go maskless in University buildings, but everyone must continue to wear a mask on public transportation, in classrooms and in patient care environments.
CDC officials announced Tuesday a new eviction moratorium in counties with “substantial” or “high” spread on, declaring evictions a threat to public health in an effort to avoid crowding shelters as the delta variant surges. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the previous moratorium unconstitutional in a June 29 opinion. Now that Washtenaw County has reached the “substantial” spread level, residents may not be evicted from their rental units. The moratorium does not extend to foreclosures on extant mortgages.
While the delta variant’s aggressive surge has led to a reinstatement of stricter guidelines for fully vaccinated people, county health officials have stressed that the vaccines are effective at preventing both serious illness and the spread of the disease.
“Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among unvaccinated individuals, locally and elsewhere,” the Washtenaw County Health Department wrote in its Wednesday press release. “The vaccine’s first job is to prevent serious illness or death. Some cases occur among fully vaccinated individuals, which is expected. Cases in vaccinated individuals tend to be mild.”
Individuals wishing to get vaccinated can visit the health department website to find the most convenient vaccination clinic for them. Currently, just under 70% of county residents 16 and older have been vaccinated.
Summer News Editor Dominic Coletti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org