By Jessica Mathews /

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has updated mask guidance as the state enters a post-surge recovery phase in the COVID-19 pandemic.

As cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in the state, the MDHHS is withdrawing the Public Health Advisory on Masking in Indoor Public Settings, including school settings.

Moving forward, the COVID-19 cycle will be broken down into three key phases: Response, Recovery, and Readiness

Response – Local and state public health implement rapid response to a surge. The public may be advised to increase masking, testing and social distancing.

Recovery – Post-surge. No immediate resurgence predicted. Local and state public health will monitor conditions that could lead to future surges.

Readiness – A surge in cases is expected, with implications on severity of illness and hospital capacity. Increased communication to the public regarding possible new risks.

Officials say decreases in cases and hospitalizations and increased access to vaccines, testing and treatment indicate that Michigan is entering a post-surge, recovery phase of the cycle. During this phase, MDHHS recommends that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, continue to practice universal masking in high-risk congregate settings including long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, and health care facilities. All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should also wear a mask during isolation and quarantine periods to stop further community spread of COVID-19.

School districts and organizations are being told to consider local conditions and work with their local health department to determine mask policies for school districts, public meetings and large events.

MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said individuals and families should assess their own risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission and make choices about when it makes sense to wear masks. The Department will continue to closely monitor the transmission of COVID to assess risk across the state and adjust as conditions change. Those changes could include the presence of a new variant that increases the risk to the public, or an increased number of cases that strains the health care system.

More information is available in the provided link. AP photo.