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Local transmission of COVID-19 is increasing and nearing “substantial” levels as defined in the CDC COVID Data Tracker. Washtenaw County Health Department strongly recommends masking for everyone in indoor, public spaces. Anyone eligible but not yet vaccinated against COVID should do so as soon as possible. Vaccination is safe, effective, free, and available at multiple community locations.
Washtenaw County is currently at “moderate” transmission and likely to move to “substantial” by later this week or next if current trends continue. Neighboring counties are already at substantial transmission levels.
“Additional precautions are needed, and we must take them seriously,” says Jimena Loveluck, MSW, health officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department. “We know how to slow the spread of illness. We are asking everyone to mask up indoors in public settings. Get vaccinated if you are eligible and have not yet done so.”
Local COVID cases have increased steadily in recent weeks. Washtenaw County is currently reporting approximately 30 cases per day; test positivity has increased to 3.4%. Increases in hospitalizations or deaths may lag weeks behind increases in cases; however, hospitalizations or deaths have been rare among vaccinated individuals since vaccination became widely available.
“It is incredibly frustrating to be facing another wave of COVID. At the same time, we are optimistic that vaccinations will continue to be effective at preventing severe illness or death,” continues Loveluck. “Vaccinations can change what we see in the coming weeks drastically – but only if we use them and all of our prevention tools effectively.”
Health Department recommendations should be taken seriously during a pandemic and without the need for additional state or local orders. Data and public health practice support the use of vaccination, masks, and additional prevention measures like physical distance, frequent hand cleaning, and appropriate isolation or quarantine if exposed.
Vaccination is available from the Health Department and at pharmacies or other health care providers. Health Department vaccination opportunities include walk-in clinics Tuesday through Friday at the Health Department at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti as well as pop-up sites across the county. This week, there are vaccine clinics in Scio Township, Ann Arbor, Manchester, and multiple locations in Ypsilanti.
Everyone 12 years and older is eligible for vaccination. The Health Department has Pfizer, Moderna, and one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines available.
Updated Mask Guidance
The CDC has recommended masking for everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, in areas with high or substantial COVID transmission.
Increased transmission is likely because of the Delta variant now circulating. National data show the Delta variant is different and much more contagious. Some vaccinated people can get Delta and may be contagious. Overall, vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country.
Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among unvaccinated individuals, locally and elsewhere. The vaccine’s first job is to prevent serious illness or death. Some cases occur among fully vaccinated individuals, which is expected. Cases in vaccinated individuals tend to be mild. The Health Department continues to monitor hospitalizations by vaccination status.
Information about local COVID vaccine coverage is available on our vaccine data page. For individuals 16 years and older, Washtenaw County is almost at 70% (69.4% as of Aug. 3, 2021). As of this same date, 57.4% of the entire county population is fully vaccinated.
Say Yes! COVID Test At-Home Testing Challenge
The Health Department can provide free, at-home, and rapid testing kits through the “Say Yes! COVID Test Challenge.” Individuals in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti can order online for home delivery. Test kits may also be picked up at the Health Department during COVID vaccination clinics, or at Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti pop-up vaccination clinics. The rapid antigen tests are approved for use in individuals 8 years and older. Kits will be available through the middle of August when the challenge is set to close.
More COVID testing information and guidance is available at www.washtenaw.org/covid19test.
If you are fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask and distance yourself from others as much as possible. Test 3 to 5 days after your exposure.
Local COVID information and updates are always available at www.washtenaw.org/covid19. The Health Department also sends regular emails updates, sign up at http://bit.ly/WCHD555.