Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Whitmer shows support for local businesses, vaccines during press conference

December 1, 2020
<p>Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medial Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, provided an update on COVID-19 in Michigan on Dec. 1, 2020. Photo courtesy of Michigan Executive Office of the Governor. </p>

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medial Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, provided an update on COVID-19 in Michigan on Dec. 1, 2020. Photo courtesy of Michigan Executive Office of the Governor.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer provided updates about the state’s response to COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon and ways to support local businesses during the “three-week pause” executive order instituted under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Whitmer said she asked Michigan lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, in a letter last week to work with her in several ways to help fight COVID-19. She asked for help in passing a $100 million relief package for Michigan and extending unemployment benefits. 

“If we don’t take this bipartisan action now, thousands of Michiganders who are unemployed could lose benefits right after the holiday,” Whitmer said. “Let’s work together and get this done.” 

She did not say whether there are plans to extend the order. 

As of Monday, Nov. 30,  Michigan had up to 360,449 COVID-19 cases with 9,134 deaths. Detroit News reported 5,793 new cases and a record 190 deaths Tuesday.

Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said there has been a slight decrease in positivity rate over the past week, dropping down from 14% to 13%. This rate is still higher than she’d like it to be. She also said there are currently around 4,200 Michiganders hospitalized because of the virus.

Khaldun talked about plans for vaccine distribution. Pfizer requires its vaccine to be stored in temperatures below -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit). She said 48 hospitals and 12 local health departments statewide have the ability to hold Pfizer’s vaccine; there are even more for the Moderna vaccine.

“There are also over 100 hospitals and local health department sites across the state that have the ability to store and distribute the Moderna vaccine, which does not have to be stored at such a cold temperature,” Khaldun said. 

When vaccines do become available — potentially as soon as in two weeks — Khaldun said they will be limited, and Michigan will focus on prioritizing health care workers and the most vulnerable to the disease in receiving a vaccine first. 

For businesses who had to pause their operations because of the executive order, Whitmer said she knows this time is tough. She said consumer confidence will be the best way to regain business, and gaining confidence comes with controlling the positivity rate of COVID-19 and the hospitalizations it creates. 

Whitmer’s administration announced on Nov. 30 the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative. This program will take $10 million from the coronavirus relief bill and allocate it toward small businesses. Restaurants and shops will be able to receive up to $15,000 based on applications. Submissions will begin on Dec. 15. 

She also encouraged shoppers to buy local during the holidays, naming the Kalamazoo Candle Company, October Moon in Old Town Lansing and Crunchy’s in East Lansing as places she’s supporting. 

“There are a number of ways that we can support local businesses this season and stay safe,” Whitmer said. “Buy your holiday gifts from small businesses that you love or find online in your area. I, for one, have sent Detroit Basket Company gift baskets to my sister and her family in New York. They're going to have Vernors and Faygo and Better Made chips and a lot of other good stuff.”

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