LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is providing an update Wednesday on the state’s handling of COVID-19. Here’s what you should know about the upcoming restriction changes, the latest trends in metrics and vaccinations before the briefing.
Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced significant changes to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Now, masks are “generally not required” during outdoor gatherings unless there are 100 or more people. Up to 50 people are allowed to attend residential outdoor gatherings, the state announced.
In places where the density of crowds doesn’t exceed 20 people per 1,000 square feet of usable outdoor space, up to 300 people are allowed to gather, according to a state release.
Anyone who is fully vaccinated and not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms can attend residential gatherings -- both indoor and outdoor -- without a mask.
Masks are still required for contact sports, but they’re no longer required for outdoor practices and games for non-contact sports. Also, new guidance for organized sports no longer requires routine COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated participants if they aren’t experiencing symptoms.
Large outdoor events -- festivals, fairs and golf tournaments -- will now be allowed to exceed the current limit of 1,000 people as long as organizers create and post a safety plan that follows MDHHS guidance, the state announced. They can’t allow a gathering of more than 20 people per 1,000 square feet in any space.
Any stadiums complying with enhanced COVID-19 protocols set by the state are allowed to fill up to 20% of their fixed seating capacity. The state release says those stadiums can host up to 8,000 people.
Stadiums and arenas with fixed seating capacities of 5,000 or greater that do not have enhanced protocols, up to 1,000 people can gather, state officials said. That limit was previously 750.
Stadiums and arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater that do not have enhanced protocols can have up to 1,500 people.
First vaccine milestone
Michigan has reached the first of four vaccine milestones that will trigger the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the state.
Michigan hits first vaccine goal: What that means, restriction changes and what’s next
Whitmer announced in late April that the state will ease COVID-19 restrictions based on the percentage of Michiganders who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
On Monday afternoon, Whitmer tweeted that Michigan has officially reached the first of the four thresholds, with 55% of residents age 16 and older having received a dose of the vaccine.
“I’m excited to announce that 55% of Michiganders have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Whitmer tweeted. “This is a huge milestone in getting #MIVaccToNormal”
On May 24, MDHHS will allow in-person work to resume for all sectors of businesses in the state. Right now, employees are supposed to work remotely unless their jobs must be done in-person.
No additional details about that return to in-person work have been revealed, so it’s unclear what exactly it will look like. Current guidance requires employees to wear masks and socially distance.
While the number of vaccinated residents continues to rise in Michigan, the rate at which people are getting them has slowed.
On May 3, Whitmer announced the state had administered 7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The week’s announcement that 55% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine means that 4,453,304 Michiganders have gotten a shot.
The next goal on the MI Vacc To Normal plan is to have 60% of Michiganders receive at least one shot. That translates to 4,858,150 residents.
Whitmer will likely provide an updated number of total vaccinations administered during Tuesday’s briefing, but the rate at which people are signing up is slowing, so it could take some time to reach that 60% milestone.
COVID case count
Michigan’s COVID metrics have been moving in a positive direction over the last couple of weeks, though numbers are still higher than experts would like.
The number of new cases has been below 2,000 each of the past four days. That’s counting Monday’s two-day announcement of 2,716 cases as a daily average of 1,358.
On Tuesday, the state announced 1,992 new COVID cases. That’s the second-lowest number -- behind Friday’s announcement of 1,825 cases -- since March 9, when 954 new cases were added.
Michigan’s daily case rate was consistently below 1,000 in February, but there were several days in mid-April with nearly 9,000 cases. Now, that number is trending back toward what we saw in the winter.