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MDHHS expands capacity at outdoor stadiums and arenas and increases testing to protect youth in sports

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MDHHS expands capacity at outdoor stadiums and arenas and increases testing to protect youth in sports

Today, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its Gatherings and Mask epidemic order, allowing up to 20% capacity in outdoor stadiums and arenas that establish infection control plans. The update also increases testing for youth ages 13-19 to ensure athletes can safely participate in sports. The changes are designed to balance day-to-day activities while controlling the spread of COVID-19 and saving Michiganders’ lives. Although progress has been made, it is crucial that Michiganders continue to mask up and socially distance as we take steps to get back to normal. The changes to the Order go into effect Monday, March 22, and remain in effect through Monday, April 19.

“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but by staying focused on acting quickly, following the science, and listening to experts, we can save lives and help our economy recover faster,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. By April 5, all Michiganders will be eligible for the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is the most effective way to protect you and your family from the virus, and I urge all Michiganders to get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to you.”
“More than 3.2 million doses of the safe and effective COVID vaccines have been administered in Michigan, and we are well on our way to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and up,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS.
Gatherings at outdoor stadiums and arenas are increased to 20% of the venue’s capacity if the site:
• Establishes an infection control plan that complies with the protocols included in MDHHS’s document entitled Enhanced Outdoor Stadium and Arena Guidance.
• Posts the mitigation plan publicly.
• Sends infection control plans to the local health department and MDHHS at least seven days before scheduled events.
• Administers a testing program as specified in MDHHS’s Guidance for Athletics for all players.
“We truly appreciate the ongoing partnership with the Governor’s office and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. We are thrilled to safely welcome back the best fans in baseball to Comerica Park for Opening Day and beyond,” said Chris Granger, Group President, Sports and Entertainment, Ilitch Holdings. “As the season progresses, we look forward to continued coordination with public health and medical experts, government officials and Major League Baseball to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all Detroit Tigers fans.”

“MDHHS continues to monitor the data to make decisions that allow us to return to normalcy. This includes case counts, percent positivity and hospitalizations,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. We are making this capacity change along with required safety protocols designed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”
MDHHS had been closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks. Michigan’s metrics have been increasing for the past few weeks. The presence of more infectious variants, such as the B 1.1.7 variant, threatens our progress in control of the epidemic and MDHHS will be monitoring data closely. In recent days: 
• Positivity rate: has increased for four weeks to 6.2%. This metric is up 177% from the mid-February low but remains below the December high of 19.4%.
• Statewide case rate: This metric has increase over the past four weeks to 172.9 cases per million. The rate is up 77% from the low in mid-February but remains below peak of 737.8 cases per million on Saturday, Nov 14.
• Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 is now at 4.9%. This metric peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and is now up 25% from an end of February low.

The Order also increases weekly testing for youth athletes ages 13-19 to safely participate in sports. More information on the program is available on the Michigan.gov/Coronavirus website.

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