Alpena County designated substantial risk, residents encouraged to mask up

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Pickleball players try to hit the pickleball Wednesday at Bay View Park. While it’s not required to wear masks outside, new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Alpena County residents mask up while indoors.

ALPENA — Alpena County residents should mask up while indoors, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC has designated Alpena County as having a substantial risk of COVID-19 being transmitted throughout the community.

Data from the CDC shows there were 52.81 cases per week per 100,000 people in Alpena County, as of Sunday. The number of cases per week per 100,000 people is one piece of the criteria the CDC uses to determine a county’s risk level.

The “substantial risk” category is one step below the high risk category, the highest risk level outlined by the CDC.

The CDC on Tuesday reversed its mask guidance, recommending people in high- and substantial-risk areas of transmission wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.

The guidance also recommended individuals in K-12 schools wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. The recommendation applied to students, teachers, staff, and visitors.

However, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on Tuesday she does not expect the state to issue a mask mandate or any other COVID-19 orders at this time.

Devin Spivey, community health director and epidemiologist with District Health Departments Nos. 2 and 4, said in a press release the new guidance on masking is primarily because of the impact of the Delta variant.

Spivey said research and case trends suggest the Delta variant is different than past versions of the virus, as it is much more contagious.

There have been zero identified cases of the Delta variant in the Health Department ‘s coverage area, Spivey said, which includes Alpena, Montmorency, Presque Isle, and Cheboygan counties.

However, Spivey said DNA sequencing is required to detect the variant and DNA sequencing for variant cases in the area remains low. She said the sample has to be sent to state laboratories for testing.

“Reports of Delta variant in neighboring regions is concerning for local public health and health care system,” she said in an email. “We continue to monitor case trends, encourage sick individuals to get tested and stay home, and ask area providers to send test samples for DNA sequencing.”

In the surrounding counties, Alcona County was designated as having moderate risk for transmission, while Presque Isle and Montmorency counties were listed as low risk for transmission.


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