Health experts concerned Michigan may loosen COVID restrictions too soon

Epidemiologist concerned lifting restrictions too soon could trigger 4th wave

The city of Detroit has made a massive effort to get its residents vaccinated.

As of May 21, 2021, only 25% of Detroiters are fully vaccinated.

May 21, 2021: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 882,189; Death toll now at 18,853

The city is preparing for an influx of people as capacity limits will be eased June 1. A month later, mask mandates and gathering limits will be lifted for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

Read: Curfew on Michigan restaurants, bars will be lifted June 1

Read: Concert season returns to SE Michigan: 9 shows coming in 2021

Health experts are concerned.

Dr. Nigel Paneth is a professor of Epidemiology at Michigan State University. He is among the experts who believe the state is moving too quickly.

“I think if we relax all of our restrictions before a sufficient number of people are vaccinated, before we’ve really gotten control of the epidemic, I think we might see a fourth wave,” Paneth said.

He’s particularly concerned about children under the age of 12, who are too young to be vaccinated.

“Last year, the vulnerables were the elderly. Now the vulnerables are the children. They’re the ones who are unprotected,” Paneth said. “Everybody who keeps the virus circulating by walking around without a mask and unvaccinated is putting children at risk. It is putting children at risk.”

He’s also concerned about the many who are unvaccinated who are also unwilling to wear masks.

“That’s the perfect storm -- People who are most likely to transmit infection, because they’re unvaccinated, are also the people most likely not to be able to control the transmission of infection,” Paneth said.

The risk of another wave may be especially high in areas where vaccination rates lag behind.

“It is the highest priority right now. getting the highest portion of the population immunized,” Paneth said. “We’re only at 25% fully vaccinated in Detroit so I unfortunately think we’re moving a little too fast on the opening up.”

Paneth said he’s not giving up on his mask yet either.

“When I go to a supermarket, I still wear a mask. Fully vaccinated isn’t 100% proof against disease, it’s 95%,” Paneth said. “I don’t want to be in a position where I may be asymptomatically carrying the bug and giving it to someone else because I’m vaccinated.”

Everyone will be watching the numbers in the weeks to come.

About the Authors:

Devin Scillian is equally at home on your television, on your bookshelf, and on your stereo. Devin anchors the evening newscasts for Local 4. Additionally, he moderates Flashpoint, Local 4's Sunday morning news program. He is also a best-selling author of children's books, and an award-winning musician and songwriter.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.