WATCH: Governor Whitmer provides COVID-19 update

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— Michigan Governor Gretchen gave an update on the state’s fight against COVID-19 Wednesday, where she focused on the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, called for all eligible Michiganders to get their shot.

“We can all feel a sense of hope,” said Whitmer Wednesday. “Vaccinations are up, cases and hospitalizations are down. Life is looking and feeling increasingly normal.”

The governor was joined by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. She highlighted the May 6th changes to the state’s health order in terms of masks for those who are vaccinated.

Today’s news conference comes as yesterday Michigan reported 1,992 more confirmed cases of coronavirus and 99 additional related deaths.

Of the deaths announced Tuesday, 32 were discovered when public health workers went through the state’s death certificate database to find any that had not already been reported to the state. These checks happen three times per week.

While virus numbers are still high, Michigan continues to see key metrics improve. The average test positivity rate has been declining since early April, case rates for a month and the hospital inpatient census for three weeks. Health officals say case rates are down 60%, and hospitalizations are down 30% since the April peak.

Earlier this Michigan has hit its first COVID-19 vaccination milestone, with 55.02% of people over the age of 16 has gotten at least one dose. Under benchmarks set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her administration, that means in 14 days, all sectors of work may return in person.

Whitmer Tweeted a video statement congratulating Michigan on reaching the goal.

Whitmer has promised further restrictions will be loosened after the state hits 60%, 65%, and then finally 70%.

Here what the governor had to say about her continued vaccination effort while speaking to the media while touring a vaccination clinic in Kalamazoo. You can watch the full interview below.

NATIONALLY

The FDA announced Monday the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in adolescents 12 to 15 years old.

Previously, only those 16+ were eligible for the vaccine. The company had announced recently they would seek authorization to expand the age range.

“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.

Shots could begin as soon as Thursday, after a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds. An announcement is expected Wednesday.

For the Whitmer administration, the news was good, and where they plan to focus their efforts next.

“That’s our next big push,” Whitmer said. “so our kids can be back in school universally come this fall.”

In terms of a vaccine mandate, Whitmer said there’s been no discussion in Lansing about requiring COVID-19 vaccines for kids to go to school — nor has there been any talk about vaccine passports, she added.

She noted 12- to 15-year-olds won’t be counted as part of the benchmark percentages until their vaccination rates have caught up to those 16 and up. She said adding them in now would “artificially slow” the state’s march forward.

“We want to give people predictability and goals to focus on,” Whitmer said.

Michigan is still seeing high virus numbers, though the key metrics continue to improve, with case, positive test and hospitalizations rates all declining. The rate of daily deaths has been flat recently.

<<<6 News Sister Station WOOD-TV contributed to this report.

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