School Year Starts Without Improved COVID Conditions

If a Northern Michigan school district hasn’t started their school year yet, they will next week and this was hoped to finally be COVID free.

Instead, masks and mitigation measures are still in place as the bell rings on the new semester.

Administrators, teachers and parents hoped to be done with COVID after more than a year of adjusting to the virus but epidemiologists warn this fall may look a lot like last.Slowing Vaccines Pkg 6 1 2100 00 08 11still001

“We estimate, based on the pattern we are seeing thus far, we will see hospitalizations growing through September with a peak in late September or early October,” said MDHHS epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo.

It was this time last year when Michigan averaged about 1,300 cases a day. This year? The average is creeping north of 1,500.

The look at the positivity rate is even more stark, one year ago it sat at 3.24%. The most recent reports from the state show it is currently over 10%.

Vaccines were supposed to flatten the return of a spike but another “V” word has changed the narrative, ‘variant.’

“A majority of these states are about a month ahead of Michigan in terms of their Delta variant levels and when we started to see their case rates rise,” said Lyon-Callo.

Several states were hit by the Delta variant before Michigan so whether comparing the upturn in cases and positivity rate to past surge here and the current one elsewhere, it’s expected to be a rough 4-6 weeks.

Michigan does have one more advantage.

“We can blunt that curve according to this model of we are able to increase vaccination rates,” said Lyon-Callo, “To where we were in April or if we were to reduce the exposures we have in close contacts with each other.”

The vaccine rate is higher than those states. With the weather turning soon and Michiganders heading back inside together, that may be the curveball the state wants to see to break the trend.

Categories: Coronavirus