Detroit, MI

Will Michigan see another mask mandate?

Matthew Donnellon
Image via Detroit Free Press

After a mostly maskless Summer, and an Independence day that was supposed to functionally mark the end of the pandemic, it seems as though things are sliding backwards.

At the end of June, Gov. Whitmer ended the statewide mask mandate, and many businesses also dropped their requirements for face coverings.

It was a bit of a strange time, a brief foray into pre-pandemic normalcy. People could see each other’s faces while out and about.

A little bit of humanity made its way into our excursions.

However, things, as they always do, are changing.

The Delta variant is making its way through Michigan’s unvaccinated population. Michigan’s vaccination rate has been falling off. The average number of cases is growing.

Recently, an outbreak in Provincetown, Mass. caused the CDC and other health officials to reconsider how they are handling the pandemic. The new variant spreads so rapidly that just getting vaccinated isn’t enough to protect the public. Plus, with the new information that vaccinated individuals can also spread the disease, masks are looking likely.

As of the time of this reporting, several Michigan counties are experiencing high Covid transmission, “According to the CDC, there are ten Michigan counties that have a substantial or high transmission rate. The only Michigan county with a high transmission rate as of July 28, 2021 is Branch County. Counties with a substantial transmission rate, according to the CDC, include: Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, Alpena, Kalkaska, Mason, Van Buren, Cass, and Hillsdale.”

The governor started wearing a mask in public again. There has not been an order from the state yet, but WWMT commented that usually the state health department usually follows the CDC guidelines.

Several businesses are asking patrons to start wearing masks again. Both Kroger and Meier have signs asking people entering the store to put on masks. Kroger said, “that it “strongly” encourages customers to wear masks. “We will continue to abide by all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates,” the company added.

It should be noted that it isn’t required, but a request. Personally, this reporter saw about half the people wearing masks in major grocery stores over the last week.

So far, it’s being handled at a county level, with at least two of the counties’ health departments asking citizens to wear masks.

Unfortunately, without a specific requirement. Businesses and the government are having trouble getting people to comply. Jennifer Morse, the Medical Director for Central Michigan Health Department, commented on this, “The trouble we have right now is that masking may be recommended, but without an order, people see it as optional.”

It’s easy to see why authorities and business owners are hesitant to start requiring masks again. The mask mandates were unpopular. People threw fits in stores. Employees don’t want to start making people wear masks again.

There’s also the fact that half the people won’t wear them just on principle. Mask orders aren’t unwanted just by the vaccinated though. I spoke to one vaccinated person, who wishes to remain nameless, who wasn’t going to wear a mask “because he was vaccinated he shouldn’t have to,” and that “he’s tired of doing things to help people who just won’t get the shot.” So he would not be complying with a mask order.

So far, it looks like there will not be a state-wide mandate. The Department of Health would still have the ability to do so. But unless hospitals start hitting numbers similar to the spring. The mask mandate will be a local decision.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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