Grand Traverse County residents advised to wear masks at indoor public places
The Centers for Disease Control is advising residents of Grand Traverse County to wear masks in public indoor spaces.
Grand Traverse is now considered to have high levels of transmission. It's the only county in the state to have met that mark. The CDC's criteria includes the rate of new cases, new COVID-19 hospitalizations, and the rise in the number of hospital beds holding COVID-19 patients.
The latest data from the Grand Traverse County Health Department showed 15% of coronavirus tests were coming back positive last week.
"There's still plenty of people that are being infected," said Dr. Joshua Meyerson, the medical director for two health departments in the northern Lower Peninsula. "We want to keep that from landing on someone who's especially vulnerable. So, I think, right now, when we look at those transmission levels, they are high."
Meyerson added that transmission rates have been climbing for the past several weeks because the rise of the BA.2 type of of the coronavirus Omicron variant.
"Given that new BA.2 variant of Omicron was in Europe and caused a surge there, now we're seeing that here as well," Meyerson said. "The modeling [is] predicting that it would continue to increase here, at least, kind of through the middle of this month."
But Meyerson said the numbers are likely higher, especially with the rise of at-home test kits, which were not as readily available during other phases of the pandemic. Now, they're a part of everyday life for many families.
Meyerson said case numbers have a slightly different meaning now compared to early phases of the pandemic.
"It's not every case, and we don't need to have every case. It's really a surveillance tool," he said. "The number itself isn't as important as what direction is it going. Where are we headed?"