UPDATE 3:00 PM EDT: In response to an alleged COVID-19 “resurgence” in the state of Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has reverted to a lockdown posture for the state’s private businesses and public operations. The Center Square reports:
A surge in COVID-19 cases in Michigan has prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to promote a two-week, voluntary lockdown of indoor dining, suspension of school sports and a full return to remote education.
Although she noted more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, the governor added the pandemic continued to wreak havoc in the state.
For example, Michigan hospitals reported 3,508 COVID-19 patients on Thursday. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released data on Thursday that revealed the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 492.1 cases per 100,000 people, the highest positivity case rate in the nation.
“Right now, our numbers are alarming, and we all have a role to play to get our state moving in the right direction again,” Whitmer said in her Friday news conference.
“That’s why I’m renewing my call on the federal government to surge additional vaccines to our state. And it’s why I’m urging high schools and youth sports to voluntarily suspend in-person activities for the next two weeks.”
Great Lakes Education Project Executive Director Beth DeShone issued a statement in which she noted the governor’s call for a two-week in-person shutdown of schools occurs within the same time frame as spring student assessments.
“The last time Governor Whitmer suggested closing things for a few weeks, her lockdown lasted a year,” DeShone said in a statement. “Now she’s suggesting closing schools again just as the spring assessment window opens, with billions of federal dollars waiting to help students and schools.”
Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association President & CEO Justin Winslow also registered his disappointment in the governor’s request.
“While we support and echo the governor’s call for a surge of vaccines to be prioritized for Michigan, we believe her suggested recommendation around indoor dining is misguided and doesn’t track with available data,” Winslow said.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Headline USA) The Biden administration is surging federal resources to support vaccinations, testing and therapeutics, but not vaccines, to Michigan in an effort to control the state’s worst-in-the-nation COVID-19 transmission rate, the White House said Friday.
President Joe Biden outlined the moves late Thursday in a call with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to discuss the situation in the state, according to senior administration officials.
The governor has overseen among some of the worst decision-making and oppressive lockdowns among the states, in addition to other “Blue” states like New York, New Jersey and California.
Whitmer has been accused of the practice of forcing healthy nursing-home residents to co-mingle with infected coronavirus patients early in the pandemic, similar to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s scandal, for which he is under a federal investigation.
And in February a district court dropped all criminal charges filed against six Michigan hairstylists who defied Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown last May, rejecting her and Attorney General Dana Nessel’s attempt to punish several of the hairstylists who participated in “Operation Haircut,” an event last year during which hundreds of Michiganders protested Whitmer’s restrictions and were given “free” haircuts.
In November she ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and suspended organized sports — then rolled back some of her strictest regulations just days after former President Donald Trump left office, despite the fact that positive case numbers remained high throughout the state.
Biden’s assistance will not include a “surge” of vaccine doses, a move Whitmer has advocated.
Instead, the president outlined how the federal government was planning to help Michigan better administer the doses already allocated to the state, as well as surge testing capacity and drugs for virus treatment.
During a press conference on Friday, Whitmer confirmed that she had asked Biden on the call to send more vaccine doses to Michigan, particularly the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
“I made the case for a surge strategy,” she said. “At this point, that’s not being deployed, but I am not giving up.”
Doses are currently allocated to states proportionally by population, but Whitmer has called for extra doses to be shifted to states like hers experiencing a sharp rise in cases.
“We are at war with this virus, which requires leaders from across the country to work together,” said White House spokesman Chris Meagher. “We’re in close contact with Governor Whitmer, who is working hard to keep Michigan safe, and working in close coordination through a range of options that can help stop the spread of the virus.”
Biden told Whitmer that his administration stands ready to send an additional 160 FEMA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personnel to Michigan to assist in vaccinations, on top of the 230 federal personnel already deployed to the state to support pandemic response operations.
Biden added that he was directing his administration to prioritize the distribution of doses through federal channels, like the retail pharmacy program and community health centers, to areas of the state Whitmer identifies.
About 39% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.