By Bria Brown

(CBS DETROIT) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference on Dec. 10 on the state’s response to COVID-19.

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Here’s the governor’s updates:

  • On Thursday, Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-193 creating the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission within the Department of Health and Human Services 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.  
    • The Commission will be chaired by:
      • Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II
      • Former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley
      • Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun
      • Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin
      • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, associate professor of Pediatrics and C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health
      • SER Metro CEO Eva Dewaelsche
      • Soumit Pendharkar, MHA, FACHE, health administrator for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
      • Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese-Decker
      • Jamie Brown, registered nurse and president of the Michigan Nurses Association 
    • The commission will consist of at least 50 members that will represent the great diversity of our state. 
    • To apply to serve on the Protect Michigan Commission, visit michigan.gov/appointments and apply by Dec. 28.

Thursday is National Get Covered Day and the governor urged Michiganders who need health care coverage to sign up before the Affordable Care Act deadline on Dec. 15. If you haven’t signed up and think you might be eligible, visit healthcare.gov.

Before Thanksgiving, Whitmer sent a letter to the Legislature urging to pass a $100 million relief bill to provide support to families and small businesses in Michigan hit hard by the pandemic. The governor said she looks forward to working with Michigan’s Legislature to enact $50 million to help Michiganders who need it most.

Whitmer added effective immediately, most entertainment recreational venues and restaurants that depend on indoor dining, can postpone their monthly sales, use and withholding tax payments that are due Dec. 20, can be postponed to Jan. 20, 2021.

“The state treasury will wave all penalties and interest for 31 days. This is a crucial step in helping our businesses that are struggling, but we still need the Legislature and the federal government to act,” Whitmer said.

Here are updates from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.

Khaldun says there are 514 cases per million per day in the state and has been declining for the past 19 days. All areas of the state have seen a decline in the case rate. The percent of tests that are positive is at 14 percent and the number has been fluctuating up and down for the past few weeks, but has not changed significantly and is “still quite high.”

Hospitalizations are overall trending down over the past week and decreased in all but two regions in the state. Nineteen percent of in-patient beds have COVID-19 patients in them.

There’s also been a slight decrease in testing. Michigan has averaged a little over 56,500 tests per day last week compared to over 59,000 tests per day this week.

The department is also actively preparing to distribute a COVID vaccine when it is approved by the FDA. Khaldun said this could happen as early as the week of Dec. 14.

“A vaccine will only be approved when it has gone through three phases of clinical trials including tens of thousands of people, and the top scientists and doctors in the country have reviewed the data and have determined that the vaccine is actually safe,” she said.

There are two vaccines in the final approval processes. Once they are approved, the department is expected to receive a “limited allocation” of the vaccines and expects to receive shipments every week. The vaccines would then go to hospitals, local health departments, pharmacies and other partners, according to Khaldun.

READ MORE: Whitmer Announces Plan To Expand Tuition-Free College To 22,000 Additional Michiganders

Based on recents estimates from the federal government, Michigan will receive about 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine if it becomes available the week of Dec. 14. The Moderna vaccine — which is a different vaccine — is behind the Pfizer vaccine in the approval process, Khaldun said.

“If it is approved, and that may be later on this month as well, recent federal estimates suggests (Michigan) will receive about 173,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the first shipment,” she said.

Khaldun reiterated information provided on the vaccines Thursday, were both estimates and depend on the federal government and the manufacturing process.

“The amount and the timing of these shipments could still change, but we are still making plans to send vaccines to hospitals and local health departments across the state that have the ability to administer and store them,” she said.

The first priority for vaccination will be frontline healthcare workers, as well as people living and working in longterm care facilities. As more vaccines become available, they will be distributed to more people including other essential workers, people with underline medical conditions and people who are over the age of 65.

By late spring, Khaldun hopes the vaccine will be available for the general public.

“It is important that every adult in the state starts making plans for getting the vaccine. Talk to your doctor now about your risk factors and when the vaccine may become available to you,” she said.

For the maximum vaccination benefit, there will be two doses for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. If you get the Pfizer vaccine, the doses will be administered three weeks apart. For the Moderna vaccine, the doses will be administered four weeks apart.

Here’s what to expect once vaccinated. The vaccines are preparing your body to fight the real virus if it comes into contact with it. This means many will get mild symptoms after getting vaccinated such as:

  • a sore arm
  • low grade fever
  • general malaise

Khaldun said these are things to expect and it means that the vaccine is working.

Khaldun also urged the public to go to trusted sources when it comes to information on the vaccines visit www.michigan.gov/covidvaccine for more information.

 


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