State drops masking indoors recommendation, but expert says it may be too soon

Michigan is dropping its masking recommendation indoors, but the message isn’t that simple. The state's health department still encourages masks if you’re in a high-risk area.

Despite a downward trend in cases, Detroit is considered high risk. From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.Thursday the city will giveaway up to10 free KN-95 masks to people who drive up to Shed No. 3 at Eastern Market. The masks are also being given away at several rec centers across the city. For more on the free mask giveaway, go to the bottom of this story.

After a fourth covid wave, which pushed Michigan hospitals to the brink, it led to long lines at testing sites. Now the Department of Health and Human Services has dropped its mask advisory for indoor spaces.

FOX 2: "Is this too soon, or are we right on schedule?"

"I think maybe we’re a little soon," said Dr. Matthew Sims of Beaumont.

Sims is director of infectious disease research - and says to approach this news with cautious optimism, as masks inside are still the safer option.

"It’s a recognition that we’re coming out of the surge, and that’s great," Sims said. "It’s also a recognition that we have to be vigilant."

Looking around Downtown Detroit, we saw people who are being vigilant. The city has had the lowest vaccination rate in the Metro area.

But to show Covid’s slide in Detroit - during this wave, the city peaked at nearly 2,400 confirmed Covid cases on Dec. 29th.

As of February 8th, it was 115 cases and dropping. But the city says it’s not out of the woods yet, according to Denise Fair Razo,

"What we plan to do in the city of Detroit, we are going to look at our data over next couple of weeks," said Razo, Detroit's chief public health officer. "So we’re going to look at our percent positivity, our case rates, our hospitalizations, and see if they continue to go down. If they do so, then our recommendations may change."

Near Campus Martius, we saw some businesses still encourage mask-wearing.  That’s where we asked Detroiters about the state health department’s decision - and got mixed opinions.

FOX 2: "If you’re indoors, you’re going to keep wearing your mask?"

"I will as long as restrictions require us. we don’t necessarily have to do it at our desk but walking around in the common areas, absolutely," one woman said.

"I don't think they do any good from the beginning," an elderly woman said. "So why would you have to wear them at all."

FOX 2: "I see you have your mask on. Are you going to keep wearing your mask?"

"Because to get on the bus you do, but I can’t see the point," she said. "Will I keep wearing my mask? No."

While the recommendation said you don't have to wear masks in school, they do advise you wear a mask if you are visiting a hospital, a prison or a nursing home.

More info on the city of Detroit's KN95 mask giveaway: Thursday, February 17th, 2 PM – 6 PM

• Up to 10 masks per adult, per vehicle
• Masks are adult size only
• Drive-through at designated rec centers and Eastern Market-Shed 3, and to residents receiving vaccinations or tests at Health Department immunization and test sites
• Bulk supplies sent to businesses, shelters, nursing homes and senior living facilities

The Detroit Health Department will distribute free KN-95 masks to Detroiters from 2 PM – 6 PM on Thursday, February 17th in drive-through locations at designated Recreation Centers and Eastern Market – Shed 3. Up to 10 masks per adult in each vehicle will be distributed in the following locations:

  • Eastern Market Shed 3   2934 Russell Street   
  • Adams Butzel Complex   10500 Lyndon
  • Butzel Family Center    7737 Kercheval   
  • Farwell Recreation Center   2711 East Outer Drive
  • Kemeny Recreation Center   2260 S. Fort
  • Lasky Recreation Center   13200 Fenelon
  • Patton Recreation Center   2301 Woodmere
  • Samaritan Center    5555 Conner Street    

Free KN-95 masks will also be distributed to patients when receiving their COVID-19 vaccination or tests.

The Detroit Health Department is providing businesses and community organizations, including nursing homes, senior housing and homeless shelters across the city with a supply of KN-95 masks  while supplies last. All of the KN-95 masks are sized for adults only.