MHSAA celebrates 'path forward' to ditching masks, urges everyone to get vaccinated

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has joined the state's effort to vaccinate as many residents as possible against COVID-19, so student-athletes no longer will have to compete in their sports while wearing face coverings.

Mark Uyl, executive director of the MHSAA, took the unusual step of filming and releasing a PSA after the state released vaccination benchmarks for lifting restrictions.

MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl.

"In Michigan, we now have a path forward where our kids can play without these," said Uyl, holding a face mask. "And we can really see our first steps back to true normalcy. That's everyone in our state getting vaccinated from COVID-19.

"We've received one question more than any other over the past eight months: What can we do to get back to normal? We now have that answer."

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled the state's "MI Vacc to Normal" initiative, laying out staggered vaccination milestones that will trigger Michigan lifting some and, eventually all, of the COVID-19 restrictions.

It will take Michigan getting to 70% of the adult population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine — or about 5.7 million residents — plus the 14-day lag time to lift the face-mask order and other restrictions.

This week, Michigan reached 4 million residents who've received at least the first dose, which is about 50% of the adult population.

Michigan high-school athletes are required to wear face coverings during most athletic competitions, and are subject to strict testing and contact tracing if they haven't already had COVID-19 within the previous three months. The ruling by the state has been met with significant outcry from parents and athletes, and an advocacy group, Let Them Play Michigan, recently tried to get a judge to overrule the order. Judge Michael Kelly of the Court of Claims ruled this week in favor of the state, and against a preliminary injunction.

"The MHSAA is encouraging as many people as possible to get vaccinated today," Uyl said in the PSA. "Make sure you follow up and complete the process.

"Get yourself vaccinated today so we can get all of us, especially our kids, back to normal."

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984