3 takeaways from Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s COVID briefing on Thursday

Whitmer urges relief from state, federal lawmakers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer COVID-19 briefing on Dec. 10, 2020. (WDIV)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a COVID-19 news briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Whitmer was joined by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. Here were some of the main takeaways from the briefing:

Trends around the state

When Michigan extended restrictions for 12 additional days this week, MDHHS said they would be monitoring three key data points as they decide when to begin re-opening some of the businesses that are closed and the schools that are remote.

Earlier this week: Michigan extends COVID-19 restrictions for 12 days to gauge Thanksgiving impact

On Thursday. Dr. Khaldun offered an update on these data points:

  • COVID-19 case rate: Khaldun said the state is at 514 cases per million, per day, which has been declining for 19 days. All areas of the state have seen a decline.
  • Percentage of positive tests: This has remained unchanged around 14%, and is still very high, Dr. Khaldun noted.
  • Hospitalizations: Overall, hospitalizations are trending down in most of the state. 19% of beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients

Dr. Khaldun noted that testing has been down over the last week and urged people to get tested if they have symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who tested positive.

Vaccine planning

Dr. Khaldun said the state continues to prepare for the potential of a vaccine being approved this week and perhaps a second one later this month.

According to the latest estimates, Dr. Khaldun said the state is expecting about 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by next week, if approved. And about 173,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, if approved. Those estimates are just the first shipments.

Front line health workers and long term care facilities will be the first priority for vaccination.

Dr. Khaldun urged residents to begin figuring out how they will get vaccinated and said she hopes vaccines will be available to the general public by late Spring 2021.

“These vaccines work by preparing your body to defend itself if you come into contact with the virus,” Khaldun said. “Mild symptoms are expected -- this means the vaccine is working.”

Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-193 creating the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educate the people of this state, and help protect the health and safety of all Michigan residents.

Gov. Whitmer said there is no talk of mandating vaccinations.

Whitmer pushes state, federal stimulus

Gov. Whitmer again urged lawmakers at the state and federal level to take action and to provide relief for unemployed workers and struggling businesses.

“They can’t afford to wait,” Whitmer said, saying she is looking forward to working with the Michigan Legislature to get something done.

Earlier this month, Whitmer asked Michigan lawmakers to approve $300 million in state spending to fight the coronavirus into 2021, including money to support the broad-based distribution of pending vaccines.

COVID-19 funding and other outbreak-related bills are a top priority in the remaining two weeks of the two-year session. The state budget office said the $300 million is needed to continue critical response activities that cannot be funded with previously authorized U.S. aid after Dec. 30 under federal law. It is unclear if Congress will enact an additional round of federal relief by year’s end.

New COVID-19 cases are slowing but deaths continue to rise in Michigan. Testing has remained steady, with more than 46,000 diagnostic tests reported per day, but the positive rate has increased to near 14% over the last week. Hospitalizations have slowed but remain high over the last five weeks, including upticks in critical care and ventilator use.

More: How to track Michigan COVID-19 data

Coronavirus trends in Michigan are beginning to show signs of improvement in early December following a recent influx of COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to health experts.

Michigan, like much of the country, has been experiencing a surge in coronavirus spread that sometimes rivaled numbers only seen at the onset of the pandemic earlier this year. COVID-19 cases in Michigan have been on the rise since September, with virus hospitalizations and deaths steadily increasing since October.

In a report published Dec. 9 by Sarah Lyon-Callo, Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan’s COVID cases and deaths appear to be increasing at slower rates and virus hospitalizations are either plateauing or decreasing throughout the state as of Dec. 5. More on this here.

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About the Author:

Ken Haddad has proudly been with WDIV/ClickOnDetroit since 2013. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters, and helps lead the WDIV Insider team. He's a big sports fan and is constantly sipping Lions Kool-Aid.