Whitmer asks for extra vaccines to be sent to ‘COVID hotspot’ Michigan

Whitmer, Khaldun ask for 2 weeks of voluntary restrictions

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (State of Michigan)

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan is a hotspot for COVID-19 right now, so she believes the federal government should send extra vaccines here to help slow the spread.

READ: 13 takeaways from Gov. Whitmer’s April 9, 2021, COVID update

On Friday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a COVID-19 briefing for the first time in 21 days. Among the main topics were the state’s alarming COVID-19 trends, a set of voluntary recommended restrictions for Michiganders and vaccination progress.

So far, Michigan has vaccinated more than 3.1 million people and administered more than 5.1 total doses, Whitmer said. It took less than two weeks for Michigan to go from 4 million to 5 million doses administered, she said.

“That’s 5 million doses in less than four months to nearly 40% of our state,” Whitmer said.

But that hasn’t stopped the state’s COVID-19 metrics from reaching alarming levels.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, revealed Friday that the state’s case and positivity rates are four times higher than they were in mid-February. Hospital beds are also starting to fill up with COVID patients.

“We have not seen that high of a positivity rate since our first surge last spring, a year ago, and that’s concerning because we are doing many more tests than we were then,” Khaldun said. “This indicates that there is now broad community spread.”

Whitmer believes Michigan should receive more COVID vaccines because of these trends. She wants the federal government to prioritize states that have the worse COVID-19 situations.

“Anyone who looks at a COVID map knows that Michigan is unquestionably a national hotspot right now,” she said. “I am concerned because I believe, as do a number of public health experts, that we really should be surging vaccines to states that are experiencing serious outbreaks.”

She likened it to when the country had to surge personal protective equipment to certain states that needed help the most.

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said there are no plans to surge vaccines to Michigan.

“In terms of the situation in states that are experiencing increases in cases, this pandemic has hit every state, every county hard,” Zients said. “Thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people have died, and more are dying each day, and there are tens of millions of people across the country in each and every state and county who have not yet been vaccinated, and the fair and equitable way to distribute the vaccine is based on the adult population by state, tribe and territory.

“That’s how it’s been done, and we will continue to do so. The virus is unpredictable. We don’t know where the next increase in cases could occur, and you know that we push out all vaccines as soon as they’re available, and we’re not even halfway through our vaccination program, so now is not the time to change course on vaccine allocation.

“We’re going to stick with the allocation system of allocating by state, adult population. That said, it is a challenging situation in many states, and we want to do all we can to help those states. That’s why we’re working with states to make sure that every dose that they do receive is administered as efficiently and equitably as possible. We’ll also send more federal personnel to help with getting needles in arms and other aspects of fighting the pandemic.

“We’re increasing testing -- both diagnostic testing and screening testing, sending those resources to states who have increases in cases, and as I talked about earlier, we’ll also make more therapeutics and treatments available. This is all in the context that we’ve delivered 90 million doses across the last three weeks, and we’ll continue to get doses out to states, tribes and territories and through our federal channels as soon as they’re made available.”

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.