WEST MICHIGAN — West Michigan counties are updating their COVID-19 health recommendations as the delta variant surges across the area.
The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department says it recommends all residents to wear face masks indoors, including those who are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The health department explains that Kalamazoo County has been categorized at a “substantial” transmission level, citing 55.5 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people last week.
Furthermore, the Kalamazoo County Government has announced that it will move back into Phase 4 of the COVID Response Plan. Effective Aug. 9, staff and visitors in county buildings will be asked to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status and practice social distancing. The county also says all county buildings will have their hours of operation reduced to 9 a.m. through 3 p.m.
The Calhoun County Public Health Department also encourages its citizens to wear face masks indoors as well as inside schools, telling us Calhoun County has been classified with a “substantial” transmission level for COVID-19 with 67.83 cases per 100,000 people.
Calhoun County officials also recommend receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to those who haven’t gotten it yet.
“Vaccination is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death,” says Medical Director Dr. William Nettleton. “Masking up indoors provides an additional layer of protection to reduce the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.”
The Barry-Eaton District Health Department also recommends all residents to wear masks in indoor settings, citing 73.11 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in Barry County earlier in the week.
The Allegan County Health Department echoes other West Michigan counties in recommending mask use among vaccinated and unvaccinated residents, adding there were 69.2 cases per 100,000 people last week.
“When transmission in the community increases, we each have to consider using all of our tools to provide stronger protection to our families, our children, and our community,” says ACHD Health Officer Angelique Joynes, MPH RN.
The ACHD also recommends unvaccinated residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ottawa County made its way into the "substantial" risk level Monday, Aug. 9 after updated numbers came in from over the weekend.
Face masks are now recommended for everyone in the county, regardless of vaccination status.
"The rapid movement from moderate to substantial risk is call to all of us. We should evaluate our practices and implement additional infection prevention measures right now to slow the rapid spread of the delta variant in Ottawa County," said Marcia Mansaray, Ottawa County Department of Public Health’s deputy health officer.
Kent County also moved into the "substantial" transmission category Monday, according to the CDC's interactive map.
Grand Rapids Community College will begin requiring masks indoors starting Tuesday, Aug. 10 as a result.
Berrien County announced Thursday, Aug. 12 that its health department was recommending everyone -- including fully vaccinated individuals -- resume wearing masks in indoor public spaces.
“When providing guidance and recommendations to our community about which COVID-19 mitigation measures may need to be in place, we are taking into consideration many local factors, such as the current rate of COVID-19 transmission, our health system's capacity, vaccination coverage, testing and which populations may be at risk,” said Courtney Davis, interim health officer at the Berrien County Health Department. “The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the Delta variant is to get vaccinated.”