michigan coronavirus

Michigan Governor Urges Halt of High School Classes, Indoor Dining as COVID Cases Rise

As of Thursday, Michigan had the worst rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. over the previous two weeks

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Faced with the country's highest rate of new coronavirus infections, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged a two-week suspension of in-person high school classes, all youth sports and indoor restaurant dining.

She stopped short of ordering restrictions, instead asking for voluntary compliance to slow the spread of COVID-19.

High schools should shift to virtual learning, both school-and non-school youth sports should be paused, people should choose outdoor dining or takeout instead of indoor seating, and they should avoid gathering with friends indoors, she said.

The state health department issued guidance strongly encouraging high schools that remain open for face-to-face instruction to enroll in the state's rapid coronavirus testing program, which was recently mandated for teen athletes.

As of Thursday, Michigan had the worst rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. over the previous two weeks. Related hospitalizations had more than quadrupled in a month and were 88% of the statewide peak from a year ago, leading some hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries. The seven-day average of new daily deaths has been rising for two weeks.

About 39% of the state's residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose.

The White House said Friday that it is surging federal resources to support vaccinations, testing and therapeutics, but not vaccines, to Michigan.

President Joe Biden outlined the moves late Thursday in a call with Whitmer to discuss the situation in the state, according to senior administration officials. It will not include a “surge” of vaccine doses, a move Whitmer has advocated.

Instead, Biden outlined how the federal government was planning to help Michigan better administer the doses already allocated to the state, as well as surge testing capacity and drugs for virus treatment.

Whitmer confirmed Friday that she had asked Biden on the call to send more vaccine doses to Michigan, particularly the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

“I made the case for a surge strategy,” she said. “At this point, that's not being deployed, but I am not giving up.”

Doses are currently allocated to states proportionally by population, but Whitmer has called for extra doses to be shifted to states like hers experiencing a sharp rise in cases.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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