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State officials say latest COVID-19 restrictions working as key metrics improve

BY Tuesday, December 15, 2020 03:41pm

State leaders expressed cautious optimism on Tuesday as key metrics involving COVID-19 case trends, test positivity rates and hospitalizations are improving under recent emergency restrictions.

The average COVID-19 case load, which is now at 560 cases per million people statewide, has been trending downward for the past 22 days, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said during a press conference today.

Moreover, hospitalizations “are also declining,” while the state’s test positivity rate is now at 12.3 percent. The rate had been at about 14 percent a month ago and 13 percent two weeks ago.

“We’re cautiously optimistic there wasn’t a post-Thanksgiving surge in cases,” Khaldun said.

However, that test positivity rate is still roughly four times higher than what the state experienced in September. 

Last month, the state Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order restricting indoor dining as well as gatherings at various entertainment facilities and conference centers. The initial three-week “pause” was set to expire on Dec. 8 but was extended through Dec. 20. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not say today whether the order would continue beyond Dec. 20, but acknowledged key metrics have improved since it was initially put in place.

“Simply put: What we’re doing is working,” Whitmer said, noting the seven-day case average statewide beginning to decrease.

Meanwhile, Khaldun said Michigan is in a “new era” of fighting the pandemic as hospitals began to administer the first COVID-19 vaccines to frontline health care workers on Monday. The first doses available in the U.S. were manufactured by Pfizer Inc. in Portage, while federal officials are expected to authorize Moderna Inc.’s vaccine on Friday.

Khaldun said more than 300 providers — including hospitals, pharmacies and outpatient clinics — are enrolled to administer the vaccine, which she said should be available for the general public by late spring.

“Everyone age 16 and up should now be planning for how and when they get the vaccine and should know what to expect,” Khaldun said.

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