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16 things to know from recent talk about Michigan COVID restrictions, workplace rules, vaccines

Gov. Whitmer, national experts disagree on restrictions, vaccine distribution

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)

It’s been a hectic few days in terms of COVID-19 news in Michigan, with discussions about whether new restrictions are needed, an extension of emergency workplace rules and questions surrounding vaccines.

We’ve been covering each of these issues along the way, but in case you missed anything -- or if you’d simply like a refresher -- here are 16 bullet points that break down the most important details.

Restrictions debate

Workplace emergency rules extended

  • Michigan’s COVID-19 emergency rules for the workplace were set to expire Wednesday (April 14), but MIOSHA issued a six-month extension on Tuesday. For now, those rules are in place until Oct. 14, 2021.
  • The most significant rule is that employees who can feasibly do their job remotely are required to continue doing so. In-person work is allowed for jobs that cannot be done remotely.
  • For businesses that continue to have in-person work, they must follow specific safety protocols. They have to maintain a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to employees. That training must cover workplace infection control practices, how to use personal protection equipment, steps to notify the business about COVID-19 symptoms and how to report unsafe working conditions.
  • The rules also establish safety requirements regarding gathering sizes, masks, capacity limits and other measures.

Vaccines

  • During Friday’s briefing, Whitmer said she believes the federal government should be surging additional vaccines to Michigan because it’s a “COVID hotspot.” She likened it to Michigan helping other states that were short on personal protection equipment early in the pandemic.
  • Walensky refuted that request, saying, “We know that if vaccines go in arms today, we will not see an affect of those vaccines, depending on the vaccine, for somewhere between 2-6 weeks.” She went on to add, “I think if we try to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact.”
  • There’s concern among federal officials that surging vaccines to certain states could create more need in the places those vaccines were originally supposed to be sent. -- “Similarly, we need that vaccine in other places,” Walensky said. “If we vaccinate today and we will have impact in six weeks, and we don’t know where the next place is going to be that is going to surge.”
  • Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, “We have to remember the fact that in the next 2-6 weeks, the variants that we have seen in Michigan -- those variants are also present in other states. So our ability to vaccinate people quickly in each of those states, rather than taking vaccines and shifting it to playing whack-a-mole, isn’t the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out.”

Johnson & Johnson vaccine

  • In other vaccine news, Michigan has temporarily paused the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine statewide, due to recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The reason behind the pause: Six U.S. women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed a rare and severe type of blood clot after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It’s important to note that the blood clot has only been found in six out of 6.8 million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the country.
  • Clinics that have scheduled Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments will either reschedule or use a different vaccine. Residents who had appointments for that vaccine should still attend their appointments or make sure to reschedule.

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