LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — With the increase of COVID-19 and flu cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a face mask advisory for everyone over the age of 2.

The MDHHS says you should wear a face mask at indoor gatherings regardless of your vaccination status.

The department also says that establishments should make a policy that all people, including employees, wear a mask.

“The increases in case counts, percent positivity and hospitalizations have us very concerned,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “We are issuing the face mask advisory and are looking to Michiganders to do their part to help protect their friends, their families and their communities by wearing a mask in indoor settings and getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and flu as soon as possible if they have not already done so.”

The MDHHS says mask wearing is an effective mitigation strategy and is recommended for all in public indoor settings where transmission is high.

“COVID-19 cases are high as we head into the holidays, and we must take every measure we can to keep our families and loved ones safe – which starts with getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive. “Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to children ages 5 and up, and boosters are available for eligible Michiganders. The holidays can be a time to spread great cheer and we recommend taking measures including wearing a mask indoors to not spread COVID-19 to loved ones.”

The health department is also recommending that people get their flu shot, as there has also been a rise in those cases as well.

If you do get COVID-19, MDHHS says to seek monoclonal antibodies.

Hospitals are suffering from overcrowding and understaffing and have reached a critical point in areas of the state, MDHHS said.

“What we’re seeing is truly unprecedented,” said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, who shared that Spectrum Health currently has 370 hospitalized COVID-19 patients — 86% of those patients are unvaccinated. “Our teams are tired but working hard to care for their communities. We’re counting on people to help us by getting vaccinated or getting a booster dose if eligible, wearing masks and being smart about holiday gatherings.”

MDHHS recommends that you delay traveling if you are fully vaccinated.

MDHHS follows CDC guidance in offering the following special considerations for holiday gatherings:

  • Immunocompromised people should take all precautions of unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask.
  • Choose to wear a mask if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.
  • If you are gathering with groups from multiple households from different areas across the state and country, consider additional precautions like getting tested for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of spreading to loved ones.