LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held another COVID-19 briefing Tuesday (Dec. 15) to update the state’s handling of the virus.
You can watch the full briefing in the video above.
Whitmer was joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Here are the top nine major takeaways from the briefing.
‘What we’re doing is working’
“The department issued this order to prevent our hospitals from overwhelming, so that we can protect the brave women and men serving on the front lines of this crisis, so we can protect our small businesses who want to stay open and so we can, of course, slow the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “The good news is that we are making progress. It is working.”
Whitmer said the state’s number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing, and that the dip correlates with the day the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued its three-week “pause.”
“Simply put, what we’re doing is working,” Whitmer said.
Moderna vaccine expected soon
“Over the weekend, the first shipments of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine left Portage, Michigan,” Whitmer said. “In the next week, we expect the Moderna vaccine to be approved.”
“Doctors have been asking which vaccine should they take? And his answer is to take whichever vaccine is available to you. It doesn’t matter which -- the Pfizer or the Moderna, or maybe others that will come online. These are safe and effective.”
Khaldun took a deep dive into COVID-19 vaccine facts Tuesday, including how effective the vaccines are, when everyone can expect to receive them and potential side effects.
Here are a few of the highlights:
- The vaccine cannot actually give someone the virus. It only shares a specific code with the body to help it recognize the virus and fight it off.
- Michigan hopes to be able to offer the vaccine to the general public by late spring in 2021.
- Some people will have mild side effects to the vaccine, such as a low-grade fever, arm soreness or fatigue. That means the body is building up its response to fight off the virus.
Nessel outlined four specific types of COVID-19 vaccine scams circulating in the state and explained how they’re targeting residents.
- Promises to get the vaccine very quickly.
- So-called treatments that include pills, herbal teas or essential oils.
- Personal testimonials that are given instead of scientific evidence about one vaccine versus another.
- Social media messages, texts or emails about qualifying for clinical trials that claim you can make money.
“Advertisers offer thousands of dollars to participate, but then what they’ll do is they’ll ask you for money or they’ll ask you for personal information up front, and then they’ll include a link for you to download a pamphlet or whatever, which will then open the door to malware on whatever device you’re using,” Nessel said.
Whitmer wants action from legislators
Whitmer continues to push for bipartisan support of COVID-19 restrictions, saying 2,000 residents have died from the virus since she sent a letter to legislators three weeks ago.
She said she asked the Michigan Legislature to take action three weeks ago.
“In the three weeks since I sent that letter, nearly 2,000 Michiganders have died from COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “That’s 2,000 people who were parents or grandparents or children and loved ones, people who were taken too soon.
“In that time, unfortunately, the Legislature’s only been in session for six days. They have not taken action on these measures. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”
$100 million stimulus plan
Whitmer says she is ready to sign a $100 million economic stimulus plan to help families and small businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She’s calling on the Republican-led Legislature to work with her on the plan.
“Yesterday, I sent another letter to the Legislature, urging them to work with me on priorities like $100 million in COVID-19 relief,” Whitmer said. “We know this virus is hurting our people, hurting our businesses.”
“We here in Michigan have got to step up and take action. I’m ready to sign a bill, so it’s crucial for the Legislature to find some common ground and pass a targeted, state-based economic stimulus plan of up to $100 million to provide direct financial support to the families and small businesses that have been hit the hardest by this pandemic.”
Governor wants permanent extension of unemployment benefits
For the second time this month, Whitmer asked state lawmakers for a permanent extension of unemployment benefits due to COVID-19.
“I also need them to remember to pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits,” Whitmer said. “I appreciate the Senate’s expansion of unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, through March, but we really need to work together to pass a permanent extension to protect the countless Michiganders and their livelihoods.”
Whitmer said thousands of Michiganders are in danger of losing benefits at the end of the year.
Positive movement from 3 key metrics
Three of the most important COVID-19 metrics are showing positive signs that Michigan is heading in the right direction, the state’s chief medical executive said.
Khaldun said the case, hospitalization and positivity rates are all declining.
Michigan is currently at 560 cases per million people, a number that has been trending downward for 22 straight days, Khaldun said. Case rates for all eight geographical regions are on the decline, she said.
Overall, 18.5% of hospital beds in the state have COVID-19 patients in them, which has also declined, according to Khaldun.
The percentage of statewide COVID-19 tests that are coming back positive is down to 12.3%, Khaldun said. That number has been declining for seven straight days.
Local 4′s Hank Winchester asked Whitmer about restaurants. Right now, they are limited to carry-out and delivery orders, as indoor dining is shut down through at least Dec. 20.
“We know that our restaurants are hurting right now, and it is not their fault that COVID-19 has spread so far and wide across the country and across our state,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer said she believes once 2021 rolls around, each month will get better than the next.
“The weather will get warmer,” Whitmer said. “We’ll have an administration that is really focused on a national strategy around COVID-19. All of these things are reasons to feel very optimistic about 2021.”
A survey released Tuesday showed that one-third of restaurant owners don’t believe they can go another six months like this. They feel COVID-19 restrictions are inconsistent, with people allowed to go to malls or grocery stores, but not restaurants.
“There is a ban on indoor dining, and I think that to the extent that these restaurants are seeing that happen in other realms -- that is unfortunate,” Whitmer said. “We know that this virus passes easily through respiration, and that’s why (indoor dining is shut down).”