Michigan hit the first milestone Monday in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions as vaccination thresholds are met.
“Milestone achieved” read the state vaccine dashboard maintained by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services after the state reported that 4,455,395 residents age 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. That just exceeds the 55-percent threshold in Whitmer’s “MI Vacc to Normal” plan. The milestone allows in-person work to return in two weeks for all business sectors.
“I am excited that 55 percent of Michiganders have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine because it puts us one step closer to getting Vacc to Normal,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Everyone is eligible to get their safe, effective shots, and it’s on all of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. On May 24, we anticipate allowing a return to in-person work across all sectors, and as more Michiganders get vaccinated, we will continue lifting restrictions to get Vacc to Normal safely.”
A 60 percent threshold — or more than 4.85 million residents — is the next step in Whitmer’s “MI Vacc to Normal” plan that was released on April 29. At that rate, the state would increase indoor capacity at sports stadiums, conference centers, banquet halls and funeral homes to 25 percent. The state also would increase capacity to 50 percent for exercise facilities and gyms and lift curfews on restaurants and bars.
Two weeks after 65 percent, or 5.26 million residents, are vaccinated, the state would lift all indoor percentage capacity limits and only require social distancing between parties, and further ease limits on residential social gatherings.
Once the vaccination rate hits 70 percent, the state within two weeks would lift orders on gatherings and the use of face masks. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also would “no longer employ broad mitigation measures unless unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant variants,” according to Whitmer’s plan.
“The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is the most important tool we have to reduce the spread of the virus. By getting shots in their arms as soon as possible, Michiganders can help end this pandemic as quickly as possible,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said in a statement.
The state over the weekend updated the vaccine dashboard to include data on residents who received a vaccine in another state.
The state hit the 55-percent threshold as vaccines have become far more readily available in recent weeks, and COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations decline.
The state hit the 55-percent threshold as vaccines have become far more readily available in recent weeks, and as COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations decline after the recent spring surge.
In a briefing Monday, Small Business Association of Michigan President Brian Calley noted that Michigan’s COVID-19 case load had fallen in the last few weeks to a seven-day average of 2,544 from 7,783.
The rate of people testing positive had also declined to 11.1 percent from a peak of 18.5 percent in early April.
“Just great trends. Everything is heading in the right direction in terms of disease spread,” Calley said.
COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide as of last Thursday totaled 2,743, with 720 people in intensive care units (ICU). That compares to 3,034 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized on May 3, with 780 in an ICU.
As of Monday, the state had recorded 865,349 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18,239 deaths since the pandemic started more than a year ago.