WATCH: Governor Whitmer announces plan to relax Michigan COVID policies

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave an update on the state’s fight against COVID-19 on Thursday morning.

The governor focused her portion of the news conference discussing their benchmarks, for removing restrictions here in Michigan. The governor announced her “MI Vacc to Normal” which aims to reach 70% of Michiganders ages 16 years or older to be vaccinated. 

“The MI Vacc to Normal challenge outlines steps we can take to emerge from this pandemic as we hit our vaccination targets together,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “On our path to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders 16 and up, we can take steps to gradually get back to normal while keeping people safe. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to rise to the challenge and be a part of the solution so we can continue our economic recovery and have the summer we all crave.” 

Here’s a look at the plan announced by the governor today:

  • 55% of Michiganders (4,453,304 residents), plus two weeks 
    • Allows in-person work for all sectors of business. 
  • 60% of Michiganders (4,858,150 residents), plus two weeks 
    • Increases indoor capacity at sports stadiums to 25%. 
    • Increases indoor capacity at conference centers/banquet halls/funeral homes to 25%. 
    • Increases capacity at exercise facilities and gyms to 50%. 
    • Lifts the curfew on restaurants and bars.   
  • 65% of Michiganders (5,262,996 residents), plus two weeks 
    • Lifts all indoor % capacity limits, requiring only social distancing between parties. 
    • Further relaxes limits on residential social gatherings.   
  • 70% of Michiganders (5,667,842 residents), plus two weeks 
    • Lifts the Gatherings and Face Masks Order such that MDHHS will no longer employ broad mitigation measures unless unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant variants.  

If new cases remain greater than 250 daily/million as a 7-day average in a Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) region at the time of implementing steps 2 through 3, MDHHS may delay implementation in that MERC region.  

The governor was joined by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, and MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel.

“We can end this virus on our terms by following the protocols we are putting forward, encouraging everyone in your life to do the same, and ensuring that everyone eligible to receive a vaccine gets one,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “What we have been observing across our state is that the thing that moves a person to choose to get vaccinated is hearing from someone they know about why it is so important, why they chose to get vaccinated. That means that every person who has not yet chosen to get vaccinated is one conversation away from making that choice. We can make that happen for them and for all of us. The MI Vacc to Normal challenge is a great reminder that we’re all on one team, working towards ending COVID-19.” 

“The safe and effective vaccine is the most important tool we have to reduce the spread of COVID-19” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “By getting shots in their arms as soon as possible, Michiganders can protect themselves, their families and their communities and help end this pandemic as quickly as possible.” 

“Our state had made great progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 since Governor Whitmer asked for Michiganders to step up on April 9,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “I am proud of the progress that we have made by working together. If residents continue to get their vaccines, wear masks and avoid indoor gatherings, we will soon be able to take further steps to loosen our public health requirements and better be able to enjoy the activities that we all love.” 

WHERE DO CASES STAND?

On Wednesday Michigan reported 4,371 more coronavirus cases and 38 additional related deaths.

That brings the total number of cases in the state to 833,891 since the virus was first detected here in March 2020 and the total number of related deaths to 17,467.

On Tuesday, labs tested 36,891 samples for the virus and 4,309, or 11.68%, were positive. The number of positive tests is not the same as the number of new cases because people may be tested more than once. Additionally, testing numbers are from a single calendar date, while the number of new cases lists the increase since the last time the state compiled the data; these two time frames do not match up precisely.

VACCINE ROLLOUT

Nearly 6.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Michigan. About 49% of the state’s population over the age of 16 has received at least one shot and about 36% of that population has finished their doses.

MDHHS says it has counted 2,108 cases of people contracting the virus 14 days after their final dose. That’s only about .07% of the more than 2.9 million people who have finished their vaccine course. Of the 2,108 breakthrough cases, 41 people were hospitalized and 22 died. Public health officials continue to stress that the vaccines aren’t 100% effective so the number of cases is not unexpected, and also point out that vaccinated people who test positive are less likely to show symptoms, be hospitalized or die than those who are unvaccinated.

VACCINE INFORMATION

Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit  Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.      

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