Whitmer on COVID-19 in Michigan: ‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel’

State officials report improved COVID-19 metrics, but new variant continues to spread

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a Jan. 25, 2021, COVID-19 briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – During an update on Michigan’s COVID-19 situation Monday, state officials provided some promising signs and some causes for concern.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the state’s metrics are showing signs of improvement.

READ: 8 takeaways from Gov. Whitmer’s update on COVID-19 in Michigan

Michigan’s case rate is at 203 cases per million people, she said. That’s down 72% since the November peak.

The state’s percentage of tests coming back positive is also coming down. It currently sits at 6.2%, according to Khaldun.

The percentage of inpatient beds currently occupied by COVID-19 patients is at 9.2%, she said.

But the spread of a new variant is starting to raise concerns. As of Monday, officials had confirmed 13 cases of the variant in Washtenaw County and four in Wayne County.

New COVID variant in Michigan: 13 cases in Washtenaw County, 4 cases in Wayne County

Khaldun thinks this is just the beginning of the spread.

“There are likely more cases that we have not yet identified, and there’s possibly spread of the variant that is happening right now,” Khaldun said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reported progress on the state’s vaccine distribution, saying 67% of the state-controlled supply has been administered, while the rest is scheduled.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, we are still in the tunnel,” Whitmer said.

She asked the Michigan Legislature to pass her COVID recovery plan, which includes a boost to vaccine distribution, support for small businesses and further direction for schools.

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Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.