Thursday, September 16, 2021

Gov. Whitmer acknowledges anniversary of COVID-19 in Michigan, provides updates on vaccine rollout

March 10, 2021
<p>Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with 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 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 held a press conference March 10 to mark a year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Michigan and to provide an update on cases and vaccine rollout across the state.

A “slight reversal” in statewide progress

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive for the state of Michigan and Chief Deputy Director for Health in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the state is beginning to see a “slight reversal” in progress combating the spread of COVID-19 in the past couple of months.

  • Statewide test positivity rate increased to 4.1% from 3.4% from three and a half weeks ago.

  • The case rate increase over the past three weeks to 114 cases per million.

  • There has been a slight increase in hospitalizations with a little over 4% of inpatient beds being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Additionally, more of the new variants are being identified across the state with over 500 cases of the more easily transmitted B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant in Michigan. The first Michigan case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.351 was also identified in Jackson County by the MDHHS March 8.

“If these new variants become more prevalent, we risk having a rapid rise in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Khaldun said.

Khaldun encouraged Michigan residents to continue following public health guidelines.

“But that just means we have to double down on what we know works and what we’ve been doing for the past year," Khaldun said. "Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid large gatherings and getting a vaccine when it is your turn."

Vaccine rollout continues

As the state works toward vaccinating 70% of Michigan residents ages 16 and up, a total of 2.7 million doses have been administered with 21% of people over the age of 16 having at least one dose of the vaccine.

Michigan expanded vaccine eligibility to those ages 50 and older with underlying conditions and disabilities effective March 8. Starting March 22, anyone ages 50 and older will be eligible.

Khaldun also said that this week the MDHHS provided additional vaccine allotments to more than 20 partnerships across the state. Partnerships between providers include hospitals, local health departments, health centers, community-based organizations and faith leaders that are intended to bring vaccines into neighborhoods and to those who are the most vulnerable including homebound and older residents.

She reiterated recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to CDC guidance, fully vaccinated people can do the following:

  • Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. 

  • Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household unless those people or anyone they live with are high risk for COVID-19.

  • Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms if they have been around someone with COVID-19.

    • However, if a vaccinated person lives in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and is around someone who has COVID-19, they should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if they don’t have symptoms.

The CDC guidance also said fully vaccinated individuals should still take steps to protect themselves and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

A year since the first Michigan COVID-19 case

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To end the press conference, Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II released a video reflecting on the first anniversary of COVID-19 in Michigan. Whitmer also asked that Michigan residents turn on their porch lights from 8 to 9 p.m. Wednesday night in memory of lives lost throughout the pandemic.

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