(CBS DETROIT) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Monday morning providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.

Whitmer announced updates to those returning to in-person work and released a new epidemic order expanding capacity limits and increasing indoor social gatherings, such as weddings, conferences and funerals to 50 percent capacity which is set to go into effect on June 1.

READ MORE: Michigan Reports 5,616 New COVID-19 Cases, 68 Deaths

The new order will continue through July 1 and masks will continue to be required indoors for individuals who are not yet vaccinated.

Now that the state has reached the 55 percent vaccination threshold, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has removed the requirement that employers must create a “policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”

MIOSHA has updated other aspects of the emergency rules to reflect the recent order from MDHHS and guidance from the CDC.

Those changes include:

  • Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees to not wear face coverings and social distance provided they have a policy deemed effective to ensure non-vaccinated individuals continue to follow these requirements.
  • The rules have been reformed focusing on performance, eliminating industry-specific requirements. Definitions have been updated to more clearly reflect changes in close contact and quarantining requirements for fully vaccinated employees.
  • Cleaning requirements have been updated to reflect changes in CDC recommendations.
  • Employers should continue to have and implement a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan in accordance with the updated rules.

“As we work to put Michigan back to work, we are moving quickly to invest in our families, small businesses, and communities to help them succeed,” Whitmer said. “The reason we can take these steps is thanks to every Michigander who has stepped up and taken action to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe. Together, we are eliminating this once-in-a-century virus, and now we are poised to jumpstart our economy and power it to new highs.”

The latest COVID-19 information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.

May 20 Conference

Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Thursday morning providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.

Whitmer said the state will fully lift outdoor capacity limits on June 1.

On July 1, the state will end indoor gathering caps that were put in place to curb COVID-19.

Whitmer’s announcement — which includes raising indoor capacity limits to 50 percent and ending bar and restaurant curfews on June 1 — comes nearly a week after her administration eased a mask order due to updated federal guidance.

Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask when they are indoors. The updated mask order will be released on Monday, May 24 from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“We may have one or more targeted orders in place to protect vulnerable populations, but for the most part, life will be back to normal and we can have the kind of independence day we’re all looking forward to,” Whitmer said.

To date, Whitmer says the state has administered almost 7.9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 4.6 million Michiganders ages 16 and up, with at least 57 percent of the population receiving at least one dose.

Cases and test positivity have declined for five straight weeks, hospitalizations have been declining for three straight weeks and the COVID metrics are trending downward, Whitmer said.

Whitmer says the state has adjusted its mask policy to match the new CDC guidelines which mean Michiganders who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear a mask outdoors or indoors unless required by a business.

The state’s recovery is also “picking up steam,” the governor said Thursday stating Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen by nearly 80 percent.

In Michigan’s Vacc To Normal plan, the governor said the state’s first step was to have 55 percent of Michiganders vaccinated which the state “hit pretty quickly.” On May 10, the state surpassed the 55 percent mark.

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May 12 Press Conference

On Wednesday the governor said vaccinations in the state are up and cases and hospitalizations are down. To date, Michigan has administered nearly 7.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Over 55 percent of Michiganders have received their first shot and over 40 percent are fully vaccinated including 70 percent of seniors, the governor said.

Cases in Michigan are down more than 60 percent and hospitalizations have fallen over 30 percent since the state’s mid-April peak.

“Tragically we have lost over 18,000 Michiganders to this virus and we cannot forget that,” said Whitmer.

The governor encouraged Michiganders to keep “masking up” indoors and always opt to be outside whenever possible.

On April 29, Whitmer unveiled the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan as the state continues to push toward its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Michiganders ages 16 years or older and “set the state of Michigan on a pathway to return to normal.”

The ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ challenge includes four steps:

  • Step 1: At 55 percent of Michiganders vaccinated plus 14 days would lift the state’s requirement for employers to require remote work when feasible.
  • Step 2: At 60 percent of Michiganders vaccinated plus 14 days indoor capacity at sports stadiums would be increased to 25 percent. Indoor capacity at conference centers, banquet halls and funeral homes to 25 percent. Exercise facilities and gyms would be increased to 50 percent capacity. The curfew on restaurants and bars would be lifted.
  • Step 3: At 65 percent plus 14 days all indoor percentage capacity limits would be lifted, requiring only social distancing between parties (lifting 100-person cap of restaurants and 300 person cap on other facilities). Current limits on residential social gatherings would be relaxed.
  • Step 4: At 70 percent plus 14 days the gatherings and face mask order would be lifted. Broad mitigation measures would not be imposed during the pandemic unless the virus threatens to overwhelm the medical system, or other unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant variants.

On Monday, May 10, the state hit step one in its MI Vacc To Normal plan surpassing its 55 percent number of Michiganders vaccinated.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its COVID-19 gatherings and face masks epidemic order. Going forward, Whitmer said fully vaccinated people do not need to mask up anymore when gathering indoors at a residence. Outside of the home, masks are only required at outdoor gatherings with more than 100 people.

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

  • Michigan has 253 cases per million people. Khaldun says that number has been decreasing for four weeks.
  • The percent of tests that are positive is 9.8 percent almost half of where Michigan was at during its peak in the beginning of April.
  • 11.8 percent of hospital beds are being used for COVID-19 patients and the state’s hospitalizations are continuing to decline.

Because of these metrics continuing to decrease and vaccinations are increasing, Khaldun says this will allow businesses to bring employees back to work soon.

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April 29 Press Conference

Whitmer unveiled the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan as the state continues to push toward its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Michiganders ages 16 years or older and “set the state of Michigan on a pathway to return to normal.”

The ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ challenge includes four steps:

  • Step 1: At 55 percent of Michiganders vaccinated plus 14 days would lift the state’s requirement for employers to require remote work when feasible.
  • Step 2: At 60 percent of Michiganders vaccinated plus 14 days indoor capacity at sports stadiums would be increased to 25 percent. Indoor capacity at conference centers, banquet halls and funeral homes to 25 percent. Exercise facilities and gyms would be increased to 50 percent capacity. The curfew on restaurants and bars would be lifted.
  • Step 3: At 65 percent plus 14 days all indoor percentage capacity limits would be lifted, requiring only social distancing between parties (lifting 100-person cap of restaurants and 300 person cap on other facilities). Current limits on residential social gatherings would be relaxed.
  • Step 4: At 70 percent plus 14 days the gatherings and face mask order would be lifted. Broad mitigation measures would not be imposed during the pandemic unless the virus threatens to overwhelm the medical system, or other unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant variants.

To date, Michigan has administered 6,657,997 vaccines. Currently, 48.8 percent of Michiganders ages 16 and older have received at least one dose, with 35.9 percent of Michiganders ages 16 and older being fully vaccinated, moving the state closer to its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70 percent of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible.  

“The MI Vacc to Normal challenge outlines steps we can take to emerge from this pandemic as we hit our vaccination targets together,” said Whitmer. “On our path to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders 16 and up, we can take steps to gradually get back to normal while keeping people safe. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to rise to the challenge and be a part of the solution so we can continue our economic recovery and have the summer we all crave. 

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

  • COVID-19 cases remain high but key metrics are trending in the right direction
  • This week, Michigan has 493 cases per million people, which is 30 percent lower than it was two weeks ago, but still four times where the state was in the middle of February
  • About 13.2 percent of COVID-19 tests are positive which is nearly three times where the state was in the middle of February but down by 4.3 percent where the state was two weeks ago.

April 14 Press Conference

Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the state is working to expand the use of a medical intervention designed to significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

The governor says this involves additional doses of monoclonal antibodies being made available to providers and requests to providers to expand the number of infusion sites in the state.

“We are using every mitigation strategy, every medication, and every treatment option to fight the virus here in Michigan,” said Whitmer. “These antibody treatments could keep you out of the hospital and save your life, and my administration and I will continue working with the federal government to make sure we are using all the tools in our toolbox to keep you and your family safe and get back to normal sooner.”

Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are laboratory-produced molecules that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells. mAb targets different parts of the virus and prevents it from bonding with cells in the body, effectively neutralizing it.

Whitmer’s administration said clinical trials have shown promising data that this therapy works for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe symptoms and/or hospitalization, including older Michiganders.

To date, preliminary data suggests more than 6,600 Michiganders have received this treatment with 65% reporting feeling better with two days of treatment and less than 5% of them requiring hospitalization following treatment.

April 9 Conference

Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Friday morning providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.

To slow the spread and protect Michiganders, Whitmer urged Michiganders to voluntarily suspend in-person activities for high schools, indoor dining, and youth sports for two weeks. Here’s everything you need to know.

  • To date, Whitmer says Michigan has administered over five million vaccines to 3.1 million residents.
  • Last week Whitmer raised Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination goal from 50,000 to 100,000 shots per day.
  • All Michiganders 16 and up are now eligible to get vaccinated.

“The vaccine is the most effective way to protect you and your family from this virus,” Whitmer said.

  • Michigan will hit more than five million vaccinations by the end of the day, according to Whitmer.
  • Michigan is currently considered a “hot spot” due to a recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
  • Michigan will continue to implement smart health policies and mitigation measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including a statewide mask mandate, limits on indoor social gatherings larger than 25 people, expanded testing requirements for youth sports, and dozens of pop-up testing sites across the state.

Over the last few weeks, Michigan has tracked outbreaks associated with youth sports.

To prevent additional outbreaks, Whitmer is urging youth sports on both school-sponsored and non-school sponsored teams to suspend in-person activities, like games and practices, for the next two weeks.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requires testing for youth sports between the ages of 13-19, and provides testing assistance through the MI Safer Sports testing program, which expanded weekly testing protocols for athletes and teams. 

For all youth sportsparticipants must test on at least a weekly basis for COVID-19, and also before any unmasked activity. 

In addition to urging youth sports to suspend in-person activities, Whitmer is asking high schools to utilize virtual instruction for the next two weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The health department issued guidance to schools strongly encouraging them to enroll in the department’s testing program if they are open to in-person instruction.

Additionally, the state is offering 56 pop-up sites located throughout Michigan as part of the special program in an effort to increase access to testing for Michiganders returning from Spring Break. For more information on additional test sites, visit here.

The governor also urged Michiganders to avoid dining indoors and avoid gathering with friends indoors for two weeks. 

By opting to dine outdoors or order takeout, restaurants can remain open while operating safely to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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

  • The state is on track to potentially see a surge in cases that is greater than the one the state saw in the fall.
  • Michigan is now at 515 cases per million people, which is four times where the state was in the middle of February.
  • The percent of positive tests has increased to 18 percent, which is also four times where the state was in the middle of February.
    • Khaldun says the state has not seen this high of a positivity rate since the first surge last spring, which indicates there is a broad community spread.
  • Hospitalizations have also increased with 15.2 percent of hospital beds being used for COVID-19 patients.
  • The state health department is also tracking 991 outbreaks in counties across the state which includes outbreaks in K-12 schools, manufacturing and construction, long-term care facilities, child care, retail, restaurants and bars.

March 19 Press Conference

Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Friday morning providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.

Starting Monday, March 22, gatherings can be increased up to 20 percent capacity in outdoor stadiums and arenas that establish infection control plans.

The update also increases testing for youth ages 13-19 to ensure athletes can safely participate in sports.

The changes will remain in effect until April 19.

Gatherings at outdoor stadiums and arenas are increased to 20 percent of the venue’s capacity if the site:

  • Establishes an infection control plan that complies with the protocols included in MDHHS’s document entitled Enhanced Outdoor Stadium and Arena Guidance.
  • Posts the mitigation plan publicly.
  • Sends infection control plans to the local health department and MDHHS at least seven days before scheduled events.
  • Administers a testing program as specified in MDHHS’s Guidance for Athletics for all players.

The state now has at least 756 cases of the B 1.1.7 variant, which is the second most confirmed cases of any state behind Florida. Michigan also has two confirmed cases of the South African, B 1351 variant.

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

Michigan’s metrics have been increasing for the past few weeks. The presence of more infectious variants, such as the B 1.1.7 variant, threatens our progress in control of the epidemic and MDHHS will be monitoring data closely. In recent days:

  • Positivity rate: has increased for four weeks to 6.2 percent. This metric is up 177 percent from the mid-February low but remains below the December high of 19.4 percent.
  • Statewide case rate: This metric has increased over the past four weeks to 172.9 cases per million. The rate is up 77 percent from the low in mid-February but remains below the peak of 737.8 cases per million on Saturday, Nov 14.
  • Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 is now at 4.9 percent. This metric peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and is now up 25 percent from an end of February low.

Beginning Monday, March 22 all Michiganders 50 and up as well as Michiganders ages 16 and up with underlining medical conditions or disabilities will be eligible to get vaccinated.

READ MORE: Detroit Police Seek Assistance Locating Suspect Wanted For Critical Assault

The governor also announced, beginning April 5, all Michiganders ages 16 and up will be eligible to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals may now participate in residential gatherings with other fully vaccinated individuals without wearing a mask. For more information, visit here.

To date, Michigan has administered 3,310,162 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

To register for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit here.

March 18 Press Conference 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Thursday morning providing details on Ford Field’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic, which is set to open on March 24.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces details about the Ford Field COVID-19 vaccination clinic opening March 24.

Ford Field will operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week for eight weeks under the federal government’s vaccination pilot program.

The Ford Field clinic has the capacity to administer 6,000 doses daily to serve residents in the broader Southeast Michigan region. The vaccine will be offered at no cost and insurance is not required, nor will it be requested at the vaccination clinic.

The site will be managed by the state of Michigan with support from FEMA, Wayne County, the city of Detroit, Ford Field, Meijer, Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Lions and the Protect Michigan Commission.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II provides remarks at a press conference on March 18 about the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Ford Field which is set to open on March 24.

Those wishing to register can simply text EndCovid to 75049 and select Ford Field as the location or visit here.

Residents who don’t have access to the internet or need assistance navigating through the registration process can use the MDHHS COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1) to register.

Michigan residents can call Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Meijer will also manage the check-in process for those receiving vaccines at Ford Field, provide onsite pharmacists for clinical review, and vaccine security and stability, deploy IT development teams and infrastructure, coordinate data submission to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry and preserve the patient’s immunization record.

For more information, visit here.

March 10 Press Conference 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Wednesday afternoon providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.

On March 10,2020 Michigan detected its first case of COVID-19.

Here’s the governor’s updates:

  • To date, the state has administered over 2 million vaccines to Michiganders of all races making the state 10th nationwide.
  • The governor said the Biden Administration’s recent announcement that there will be enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end of May is “nothing short of a miracle.”

From 8-9 p.m. Wednesday night, Whitmer requested Michiganders to turn on their porch lights to light up the streets in memory of those lost to the coronavirus.

The governor also released a video during her press conference of a video on social media of her and Lt. Gov. Garlin Flichrist reflecting on the first anniversary of COVID-19 in Michigan. You can watch the video below.

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

  • Since the first diagnoses in the state, over 15,600 Michiganders have died from COVID-19
  • Khaldun says the silver lining in this pandemic is that so many strong partnerships have developed across multiple sectors such as government, business, academia and health care to fight the pandemic.
  • Statewide test positivity has increased to 4.1 percent which is up from 3.4 percent three and a half weeks ago
  • Michigan’s case rate is now at 114 cases per million people and has increased for the past three weeks
  • There is a slight increase in hospitalizations with over 4 percent of hospital beds being used to treat COVID-19 patients
  • There are over 500 cases of the new COVID-19 variant (B 1.1.7) identified in the state
  • Two days ago the state identified the first known case of the B.1.351 variant

Khaldun says the state is seeing a slight reversal in some of the progress that was made over the past couple of months. She urged Michiganders to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands frequently, avoid large gatherings and to get a vaccine when possible.

The state has expanded eligibility to Michiganders over the age of 50 with underlining conditions and disabilities. Soon the state plans to vaccinate anyone over the age of 50. This week, Michigan also provided additional vaccine allotments to more than 20 partnerships across the state. The partnerships include hospitals, local health departments, health centers, community-based organizations and faith leaders bringing vaccines into neighborhoods and to those who are home bound and older residents.

This week, the CDC came out with an updated guidance on what people who have been vaccinated (with both doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can do.

FEBRUARY 24 PRESS CONFERENCE

Here’s the governor’s updates:

  • 85 percent of Michigan school districts are currently back in-person
  • According to a report from the governor’s research partners at Epic, 97 percent of school districts will be back in-person by Monday, March 1
  • The governor says schools environment provides social and emotional skills that are foundational to a child’s development
    • While some students and families have been successful with distance learning, far too many have struggled, Whitmer said
    • The governor added there have been disheartening impacts on children’s mental and physical health since their lives were upended in March
  • Since last April, grants have been provided to more than 6,500 child care providers and child care professionals are being vaccinated
  • Whitmer proposed a $370 million investment in her budget to make childcare low or no cost for 150,000 more families
  • Whitmer’s administration established a $6 million child care innovation fund to find pioneering solutions for working families

“The transition to remote learning during this pandemic has exacerbated existing equity gaps statewide that we have worked to narrow,” said Whitmer.

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

  • Michigan is now at 95 cases per million people and has continued to decline for six weeks
  • 3.5 percent of tests in the state are positive but continues to decline.
  • 4.9 percent of hospital beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients

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FEBRUARY 9 PRESS CONFERENCE 

Here’s the governor’s updates:

  • On Tuesday, Whitmer and Major General Paul Rogers visited the Michigan State University Pavilion to observe its ongoing vaccination efforts for area residents. Joining them for the site visit were Lt. Col. Karen Sims, the Medical Detachment Officer in Charge, along with state Representative Julie Brixie.

  • As of Tuesday, Whitmer says the state has administered 1,292,572 vaccines, moving the state closer to its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible
  • Michigan is working to administer 50,000 shots per day through the Governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, partnering with private and academic organizations like at MSU Pavilion to create more opportunities for Michigan residents to receive a vaccine.
  • As part of her commitment to keep Michigan safely moving forward, Whitmer’s administration set a goal that all school districts will be prepared to offer an option for in-person learning no later than March 1.

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

  • Case rates have steadily declined to 144 case per million, which is down 81 percent from the mid-November peak.
  • 4.5 percent of tests in the state are positive but continues to decline.
  • 6 percent of hospital beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients which is down 72 percent since the fall peak of Dec. 1.

Michigan’s numbers continue to trend overall in the right direction, but Khaldun says she’s concerned about the new coronavirus variant, adding that the state is now aware of 45 cases of the variant have been identified across 10 counties.

Khaldun says Michiganders can continue to slow the spread of the coronavirus by social distancing and wearing a mask. She also added data has shown that schools can establish a low-risk of virus transmission by making sure they wear a mask and adopt careful infection prevention protocols.

“That’s why continue to encourage all school districts to develop and implement their own plans to adopt an in person learning option by March 1,” she said.

 

February 4 Press Conference

Here’s the governor’s updates:

  • Michigan has passed the one million mark of administering vaccines
  • This week the Biden administration the is taking action to increase the vaccine supply to the state. It is now 10 and a half million doses per week nationwide.
  • On Thursday, Whitmer signed an executive order to create the Student Recovery Advisory Council of Michigan. The Student Recovery Council will provide guidance and recommendations to ensure Michigan students have the tools and resources they need to get back on track.
  • Housed within the Department of Technology Management and Budget, the council will be composed of 29 members from diverse backgrounds who are appointed by the governor. The Council is tasked with:  
    • Developing and submitting recommendations to the governor, state superintendent, and state budget director regarding student recovery.  
    • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for academic support for students who experienced learning loss due to COVID-19. 
    • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for mental and physical health for students impacted by COVID-19. 
    • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems to support high school students transitioning into postsecondary education.  
    • Recommending actions to develop and improve out-of-school time supports, including, but not limited to, summer school, before and after school programs, and extended school years.  
    • Assembling critical voices from the education and public health communities to assist in identifying key challenges students face due to the pandemic.  
    • Providing other information or advice or take other actions as requested by the governor. 
    • Reporting regularly to the governor on its activities and make recommendations on an ongoing basis. 
    • The council will serve until December 31, 2021. 
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its current epidemic order to allow contact sports to resume as of Monday, Feb. 8. The order remains in effect through Monday, March 29.  
    • Masks must be worn during practices and competition
    • If masks cannot be worn, participants must be regularly tested for COVID-19 consistent with guidelines issued by MDHHS.
    • Safety protocols like wearing masks and testing will help keep kids, coaches and families safe and allow our schools to remain open for in-person instruction.
    • Sports organizers are encouraged to administer a testing program even if it is not required.
  • Participants need to maintain six feet of distance when not actively engaged in play and wear face masks at all times. Spectators are allowed with up to 250 people in stadiums that seat less than 10,000 and up 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Michigan hard, and our students, families, teachers, and school staff have all felt the strain. Still, our educators have worked tirelessly to teach our children during this pandemic under the most stressful conditions, and for that our state is forever indebted to them for their service,” said Whitmer. It is important to remember that schools also provide other services that students need to succeed including reliable access to the internet, nutritious meals, and mental health supports. COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities in our education system, and we know more work is needed to address the significant impact this pandemic has had on our children. This Council will be integral to ensuring our students and educators are equipped with everything they need to thrive.” 

MDHHS had been closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks, and Michigan continues to see improvements. Here are updates from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.

In recent days:

  • Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in 10-week decline, with current capacity at 6.6% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
  • Overall case rates:  Currently at 159 cases per million after peaking at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14.  Rate has been in solid decline for 24 days. Three MERC regions in the state are now below 150 cases per million people: the Detroit, Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions.
  • Positivity rate: currently at 4.9% and declining. This is the first time positivity has been this low since mid-October

 

January 25 Press Conference

Here’s the governor’s updates:

  • President Joe Biden is expected to sign a Buy American executive order Monday insuring when the federal government spends tax payer dollars, they are on American made goods. Whitmer says in Michigan, this means building a stronger state for the thousands of dedicated auto workers who build Michigan-made cars.
  • The President’s executive order strengthens American supply chains and federal purchasing power to invest in America’s industry, unions and workers.
  • Monday morning, Whitmer announced appointments to the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission to raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Whitmer announced last week the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan that includes a direct focus on vaccine distribution.
  • The governor says when it comes to vaccine doses used, Michigan is one of the top 10 states in the nation. As of Jan. 12, the state had administered 44 percent of the Michigan controlled vaccines with the rest scheduled. As of Jan. 22, now the state has administered 67 percent.
  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity made changes that allowed students in college career and technical education programs to keep their food assistance and stay in school. Whitmer said close to 90,000 students qualified.
  • Last spring, food assistance recipients were given the chance to redeem their benefits with online food purchases from Amazon, and Walmart with Aldi later joining.
  • MDHHS’ Aging and Adult Sercives Agency provided home delivered meals to older adults while congregate dining sites were closed during the pandemic. Whitmer says more than 46,000 aging adults received more than 6.4 million home delivered meals from March through September 2020.
  • In August, Whitmer formed the Food Security Council within MDHHS to develop recommendations for addressing food insecurity during the pandemic.
  • Whitmer says it’s crucial that the Legislature joins forces with her to pass the MI COVID Recovery Plan to ramp up vaccine distribution, support small businesses and get students and educators back on track.

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

  • The state is now at 203 cases per million and that’s down 73 percent since the November peak
  • Test positivity rate has declined and is now at 6.2 percent
  • Hospital in patient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is trending down and now at 9.2 percent

Khaldun says there are now at least 13 variant cases confirmed in Washetnaw County and at least four in Wayne county. She says there is likely more cases of the variant and it is more than likely being spread.

“This means for any given case, it will likely affect more people and lead to more spread, and this means possibly more cases overall, more hospitalizations and deaths,” she said.

The variant does not appear to cause more severe disease, Michigan’s current tests can identify it and the current vaccines appear to work against it according to Khaldun.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel acknowledged the actions Whitmer’s administration has taken during the pandemic to provide access to food for residents whose finances have been affected by the coronavirus.

“Every day MDHHS staff in local offices from Southeast Michigan to the Upper Peninsula work to provide residents with access to food through SNAP benefits,” said Hertel. “It’s one of the most important things our department does. Our staff stepped up without missing a beat during difficult circumstances and met the increased need for food assistance that was created by the pandemic – even while our employees adjusted to working remotely to keep everyone safe.”

MDHHS also implemented a 15 percent increase supported by Whitmer and MDHHS and secured by Sen. Stabenow in the recently enacted Coronavirus Relief Act. This will increase food assistance benefits by $102 per month for a household of four, for six months.

Other actions that Whitmer and MDHHS took to address food insecurity during COVID-19 include:

  • Starting the Restaurant Meals Program, through which aging adults, residents with disabilities and homeless people can use their food assistance to get hot prepared meals at participating restaurants. The program also helps an industry that has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • Forming a Food Security Council that has made recommendations that are being implemented to address food insecurity.
  • Providing home-delivered meals to older adults through Michigan’s aging network. More than 46,000 people received more than 6.4 million home-delivered meals from March through September 2020 – an 8% increase in the number of meals.
  • Providing home-delivered meals to older adults through Michigan’s aging network while congregate dining sites were closed during the pandemic. More than 37,000 congregate meal participants received more than 1.6 million home-delivered meals during fiscal year 2020.
  • Distributing 47,600 quarantine boxes of 20 meals each to adults 60 and over through Area Agencies on Aging, as well as arranging for 115,428 USDA-produced boxes to be distributed to older adult by the local agencies.
  • Distributing 230,000 USDA Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers to allow older adults to get local, fresh fruit and produce.

To apply for food assistance or other public assistance benefits, go to www.Michigan.gov/MIBridges.

January 22 Press Conference

Whitmer announced the state would allow indoor dining to resume in Michigan starting Feb. 1. The new order will last three weeks, until Sunday, Feb. 21.

Here’s more about the new order:

  • indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements
  • concessions at casinos
  • movie theaters and stadiums
  • personal services requiring mask removal
  • and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.

“The pause has worked. The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives. Now, we are confident that starting February 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place,” said Whitmer.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor contact sports and other venues and activities where participants have close physical contacts and are not consistently masked, like water parks.

However, as of Jan. 22, stadiums can allow up to 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people and stadiums that seat less than 10,000 are allowed to be at 20 percent capacity, up to 250 people. This will allow for additional attendance at high school football finals being hosted this weekend.

The Michigan Department Health of Human Services had been closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks.

Michigan continues to see improvements in these metrics which has allowed for additional relaxing of protocols and reopening of activities. In recent days:

  • Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in seven-week decline, with current capacity at 9.9% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
  • Overall case rates: Currently at 225 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14, plateaued after a decline to 239 on Friday, Dec. 25 and has been in decline for 11 days.
  • Positivity rate: currently at 6.8 percent and declining.

For more information, visit here.

January 13 Press Conference

Michigan updated its epidemic order Wednesday to allow the re-opening of additional activities where Michiganders can remain masked and socially distanced.

This includes indoor group exercise and non-contact sports. The new order is effective Saturday, Jan. 16 and will last until Sunday, Jan. 31.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. The working plan is to open indoor dining with mitigation measures, capacity limits and a curfew on Feb. 1, but the ultimate decision depends on data continuing to stabilize.

Colleges and universities can have students return to campus for the winter semester and restart in-person courses as of Jan. 18.

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; and personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment.

Previously, MDHHS had identified stabilization or declines in three metrics as critical for relaxing protocols. Although Michigan saw improvements across all three following the “pause” implemented in mid-November, some numbers have plateaued or begun to increase in recent days:

  • Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in 13-day decline, with current capacity is at 12 percent for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
  • Overall case rates: increasing, currently at 266 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14 and declined to a low of 239 on Friday, Dec. 25
  • Positivity rate: plateauing; currently at 9.1 percent after reaching a low of 8.1 percent on Monday, Dec. 28 and increasing up to 10 percent since then.

Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department.

Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible  to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

Here are more updates from Whitmer:

  • This week, the governor sent a letter to the Trump Administration requesting permission to directly purchase up to 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines for the state of Michigan.
  • On Monday, Whitmer’s office announced the UIA has begun issuring $300 weekly payments to an estimated 365,000 claimants in Michigan.
  • Whitmer also announced Employee Assistance Grants will put dollars in the pocket of Michiganders who work in hospitality, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services sectors as well as the gym and fitness sectors.
    • Applications open for submission beginning at 9 a.m. Jan. 15 and will be available until Jan. 25, 2021 at 5 p.m.
    • The grants are not first come, first serve and the application will be open for submissions for the entirety of that 10-day period. Eligible recipients meeting all criteria and providing a complete and accurate application will be awarded assistance up to $1,650. The award is taxable, but it will not count against your Unemployment as income.
    • For more information and applications visit here.
  • On Thursday, Whitmer said the Michigan Strategic Fund Board will consider the authorization of $58.5 million in additional COVID-19 support for small businesses.

 

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