As students return from spring break trips across America and bask in the tropics for skiing in Colorado, Ingham County is ready to welcome students back as cases of COVID-19 continue to decline.
March 6 Michigan State University lifted the face coverage requirements in sports complexes and a majority of buildings on campus. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said MSU followed CDC guidelines and campus data on COVID-19. Part of the decision came from the Ingham County Health Departments, or ICHD, decision to repeal mask mandates in K-12 schools on Feb. 19.
To Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, the number of cases continues to run the curve downward, even after the mask mandates are lifted, providing a hopeful new approach to COVID-19 safety protocols.
“I am certainly optimistic; things surprise us, we have learned through this pandemic, but I think the overall downward trend when we enter March is a really promising thing, because in the last two years we have really seen that our low numbers do not show up until the summer, “said Vail.” So, seeing these numbers approach our lower numbers in March, I think, is a very hopeful sign. … But we need to be on the lookout for what is happening around the world and around the country. ”
Since last week, only 203 positive new cases have been reported at Sparrow and McLaren hospitals, while the average mortality rate has dropped to 0.6% according to the ICHD. Of these 203 positive cases, 57 of them are currently in the hospital, with six people recovering in the intensive care unit. With one pediatric case, only 9.7% of these cases are still in their active transmission stage.
The vaccination rate continues to rise only in Ingham County – currently 77.2% of residents aged 16 and over have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. Cases by age, however, have changed over the last 30 days; the age group 20-29 sits in 20% of the cases divided by age group, followed by the 30-29 age group and then 40-49 at 17% and 13%, respectively.
“When I look at cases by age within the last six months, I just want to point out that there have been some changes,” Vail said. “Before, we had some of our cases in older age groups, and we have been in the process of changing. You can see that during this last climb, the 29 to 35 year olds are at the top (of case numbers).
All students must have both vaccinations and booster shots at MSU. The booster shot has been shown to reduce the chance of contacting COVID-19 compared to being unvaccinated, which will protect students traveling to the spring break while away from university.
Non-vaccinated adults over the age of 18 are 4.9 times more likely to be tested positive and 88.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19. Vail warns that individuals who are unvaccinated or more in the COVID-19 risk group should determine their own relative risk and make decisions based on their level of risk in order to proceed.
For college students living in East Lansing and traveling out of state for the spring break, it won’t hurt to pack a few quick tests at home along with their sunscreen. Home fast tests can be ordered and sent completely free of charge at COVIDtests.gov through the postal service.
“I think one of the best things (students) can do in return for campus is that I just ordered my second round of four home tests,” Vail said. “The U.S. government sent out four home tests to each household… so buy a few home tests, and these are perfect times to take a home test before reintegrating into a more crowded environment.”
Hopeful signs in the data show that cases may continue to fall on the current route Ingham County has taken, but predicting the safety of students and others is as effective as taking a life jacket with you for water skiing.
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