Munson Health Officials Discuss New Variant, School Mask Mandate

MunsonsignCoronavirus case numbers continue dropping across Michigan, but Tuesday during Munson Healthcare’s weekly update, they discussed another new variant.

They also addressed school district’s decision to lift their mask mandates.

Some people are calling the new variant Omicron 2.0, or Stealth Omicron, but the scientific term for the new sub-variant is BA2.

Dr. Christopher Ledtke, an infectious disease doctor at Munson Healthcare, says the new subvariant is not going to be nearly as impactful, but will be more infectious.

According to Dr. Ledtke, the new variant isn’t any worse in severity than the original Omicron, but it may affect how quickly Michiganders recover.

The new variant has been found in several states across the U.S., including Illinois.

“It’s not clear if that sub-lineage is actually in Michigan. We don’t have confirmation on that.” Dr. Ledtke says.

Although a new variant is working it’s way through the U.S., cases are currently dropping across Michigan.

With the recent drop in cases, school districts in northern Michigan followed the guidelines from local health departments and dropped their own mask mandates.

“Only time will tell if they’re making the right decision,” stated Dr. Ledtke.

Chief Medical Officer for Munson Healthcare, Dr. Christine Nefcy, says she believes that school officials are trying to make the best decision they can with the information they have.

“The schools moving away from the mask mandate as the health departments are, I think is just a reflection of us hopefully moving toward more of an endemic than a pandemic.” Nefcy says.

Many parents are concerned after many school districts across northern Michigan recently announced that they plan to lift their mask mandate, but health officials are still encouraging kids to wear masks at schools.

“If you have a child that goes to these schools and you’re Munson1concerned, I would put a mask on them and the quality of the mask makes a big difference,” says Dr. Ledtke.

According to Dr. Ledtke, it’s hard to predict what will happen with COVID and the future of the pandemic, but he says they’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“The good news is it will eventually end,” said Dr. Ledtke. “By that, I mean the pandemic, or the crisis mode we’ve been dealing with for the last two years will eventually end.”