Why Whitmer hasn't shut down Michigan again; thinks COVID-19 cases will decline — 6 notes

The nation has watched as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths surge in Michigan, which experts believe may be due, in part, to a high level of variant spread

The state recorded its second highest daily COVID-19 case count April 16, with 8,955 new cases, second only to Nov. 20, when Michigan saw a total of 9,779 new cases, reports NBC affiliate WDIV-TV. The state is also reporting one of the highest weekly case rates in the U.S. 

On April 16, Michigan extended its epidemic order through May 24 and expanded its mask mandate to children ages 2 to 4. The order requires mask-wearing in public and at gatherings, limits indoor residential social gatherings larger than 15 people to no more than three households, and expands testing requirements for youth sports.  

On April 18, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, discussed the COVID-19 surge in Michigan on NBC's Meet the Press. 

Six notes from the Meet the Press interview: 

1. "We still have very strong measures to keep people safe," Ms. Whitmer said, citing mask mandates, capacity restrictions, and her recent requests for schools to offer remote education, youth sports to pause and people to avoid eating indoors at restaurants, all for two weeks. 

2. "What we know is that our success at keeping COVID spread down for such a long period of time has left us with vast reservoirs of people who don't have antibodies," Ms. Whitmer said. "And that was a good thing until the variants came onstage, until we are 15 months into this, and people are tired and dropping the protocols." 

3. Citing therapeutics and other resources sent from the federal government, the governor said the state is starting to see "the beginning of what could be a slowdown."  

Though Gov. Whitmer did not share specific data with Meet the Press, Michigan is averaging around 7,600 daily cases, a measure that hasn't increased by more than a few hundred for more than a week, according to data tracked by The New York Times.  

4. When asked what had changed from past lockdowns, in which Ms. Whitmer had taken more strict safety measures, the governor cited increased knowledge about transmission and the power of mask-wearing, increased PPE supply, improved testing measures and vaccine development. The governor also said, "I have been sued by my legislature … I don't have all of the exact same tools."      

5. "At the end of the day, this is going to come down to whether or not everyone does their part," Ms. Whitmer said, emphasizing the need for the public to get vaccinated, but also the importance of getting the state's economy back on track.  

6. During the interview, Dr. Fauci underscored the efforts from the federal government, such as sending officials to Michigan to help with testing and contact tracing. Dr. Fauci said vaccine distribution to the state hasn't been increased because it would make other states "vulnerable to what's going on in Michigan."


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