LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Starting Thursday, many state employees will no longer be required to wear masks at work as Michigan continues to report declining COVID-19 infections.

The Office of the State Employer announced the change Monday in an email to the state’s 46,000-plus workers.

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Masking may still be mandated for some employees, such as those working inside prisons and state psychiatric hospitals.

“More changes to policies may be coming in the following weeks,” Liza Estlund Olson, director of the office, wrote. “We look forward to seeing more of the smiles of our coworkers as we continue with our work.”

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The announcement relaxing a nearly 2-year-old mandate came three days after the federal government released new guidelines saying people in counties where the coronavirus poses a low or medium threat to hospitals can stop wearing masks. About 10% of Michigan’s population lives in 17 counties that are considered high risk, meaning people there should still wear a mask indoors in public.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has given individual state departments and offices flexibility in determining if workers should come into the office or work remotely. Before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the latest recommendations, the state health department had already stopped urging that masks be worn inside schools and other public places.

The seven-day average of new daily infections was 1,050 Monday, the lowest new case count since last summer. More than 1,100 adults were hospitalized with confirmed or probable cases, also the lowest number in six months.

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