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Michigan State Medical Society: Time to mask up again

stock photo of surgical masks on a table
Macau Photo Agency

The Michigan State Medical Society says it’s time for people to return to masking up indoors, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. The reason is the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The recommendation from the doctors’ organization comes amid fights over whether schools should be allowed to adopt COVID-related requirements and restrictions.

From the MSMS statement:

“With the delta variant surging across the country, the Michigan State Medical Society stands with the CDC, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and countless other public health-related organizations and associations in recommending that everyone—regardless of vaccination status—return to wearing masks indoor in public spaces, especially in schools, as children under the age of twelve are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. Doing so will help slow the spread of the delta variant, prevent further outbreaks, keep schools open, and ultimately, save lives. Put simply, it’s the right thing to do."

Dr. Pino Colone is the MSMS president. He said masks and vaccines are the best way to slow the spread of the variant. He said masks will also help protect young children who cannot yet be vaccinated.

“I can tell you that my 14-year-old is fully vaccinated,” he said. “My eight-year-old is not yet eligible, but when those studies are completed and proven to be safe and effective, I will have him vaccinated.”

Colone said he’d also like to see more assertive government mandates regarding masking and vaccines.

“A mandate from the state or national governments would take the decision out of the hands of individual school districts, and certainly make it safer and easier for everybody,” he said.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did not respond directly on whether mandates are under consideration. A department spokesperson did share a statement that included:
“In Michigan, there is no statewide requirement to wear a face mask in most settings; however, local health departments, establishments, and school districts may have additional rules that must be followed. It is SAFER to wear a mask in high-risk settings where many unvaccinated individuals are present, to protect vulnerable populations, or when community transmission is substantial or high.”

Dr. Colone said he thinks COVID politics are interfering with the state’s COVID response.

“I think Governor Whitmer is hesitating because of the controversy that’s been injected into the conversation,” he said, “where that controversy wasn’t necessary.”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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