COVID-19 fall encourages policy talk | COVID-19
COVID-19 fall encourages policy talk |  COVID-19

COVID-19 fall encourages policy talk | COVID-19

TRAVERSE CITY – The decline in COVID-19 cases and positivity rates encourages protocol talks.

Munson Healthcare officials began talking about dropping universal masking when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that they are relaxing its masking guidelines for societies where hospitals are not under great strain of COVID-19 cases.

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At the same time, Munson is considering when to switch to pandemic level yellow from orange, which is when percent positivity in the region drops to below 10 percent.

The CDC labels societies as low, medium and high risk for COVID-19. On Tuesday, with 10.8 percent positivity for the past 14 days and the total number of cases at 111,283 for the region, Grand Traverse County was still labeled a high-risk area.

On Tuesday, there were also 41 beds occupied by COVID-19 inpatients on the entire system in Munson, with 34 of them at Munson Medical Center, with four patients in one ventilator.

That’s a drop from 44 occupied beds last Friday – 33 of them at Munson Medical Center – as Dr. Joe Santangelo, Munson’s top quality and safety officer, said Friday is about half of where the region was just a few weeks ago.

Munson moved from level red to level orange on Thursday, after percent positivity for the region dipped below 20 percent, benchmark for level orange, after case and percent positivity fell sharply in the region in February.

The hospital system kept its universal masking policy in place and loosened some visitors’ restrictions with the change, which Dianne Michalek, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Munson, said is the biggest thing they are adapting to this week.

A change from orange to yellow status, Michalek also said, would further impact Munson’s visitor policies and possibly allow them to redirect resources currently dedicated to COVID-19 elsewhere.

Michalek said because any area where patients might be would still require universal masking, a change from the CDC’s high to medium risk for Grand Traverse County, is when Munson would make a change to the hospital system in accordance with the new CDC guidelines, would not change very much. But, she said, she believes it is a conversation that Munson officials should have, to tie a change in the masking policy to move to level yellow.

“But I think even if the CDC were to say, ‘Grand Traverse County is now medium risk,’ it’s not like we could just make that decision tomorrow, because there are a lot of different committees and incident commands that it needs to be investigated, “Michael said.

Follow Jessica McLean for more stories on @journalistjam on Twitter.

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