LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the state is revising its COVID-19 order to resume in-person high school classes, reopen certain indoor entertainment venues and allow non-contact outdoor sports and fitness classes.
Whitmer has held about 80 of these press conferences since the coronavirus pandemic began, but Friday’s was first she was visibly frustrated. After her friend Wayne County sheriff Benny Napoleon died from COVID-19, Whitmer said when it comes the vaccine distribution is bottlenecked due to Washington.
“My frustration level is high because in Portage there are vaccines ready to be distributed,” Whitmer said. “And the thing standing between us seeing that through is the federal government and I can’t get an answer why.”
She said her calls to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s office have gone unanswered and that a delay in a federal stimulus bill could lead to drastic cuts.
“Our police, our fire, our first responders are really at risk here,” Whitmer said. “You know, it’s incredibly foolish not to include this kind of relief right now as we go into these holidays.”
But Whitmer praised Michiganders for doing their part to slow the spread over Thanksgiving and modified the pause.
- Indoor activities where people can remain masked is allowed.
- In person learning at high school can resume.
- And venues like casinos, bowling alleys and movie theaters can reopen, but capacity is capped at 100 and concession stands are closed to prevent people from removing masks.
“While I’m still concerned that our cases are six times higher than they were at the beginning of September, things are certainly trending in the right direction,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS.
Cases in Michigan have been declining for four weeks, as has hospital capacity and positivity rates. However, restaurants and bars will remain closed since patrons need to remove masks to eat or drink.
Minutes after the state announced updated COVID-19 restrictions, Michigan Republicans released a statement “condemning” the decision to keep many businesses closed through the holidays.