Several signs of the pandemic's waning sway over lives in Michigan and the U.S. continue to be validated by encouraging statistics reported by the state and the subsequent ending of epidemic orders from the health department. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference on Belle Isle with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. Whitmer announced a plan to expand the ‘Future for Frontliners’ program to allow frontline workers to expand their education. Read more about her plan and what else she laid out here.
A threat to public health remains. The state reported another 327 cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths over a three-day period on Monday. But the transmission rate has softened to nearly 100 new cases a day which is similar to the rate of Michigan's best days last summer. And the low number of infections isn't just attributed to lockdown measures but immunity.
So far 61.2% of the state is covered by some form of protection from a vaccine. Another 42,587 people got their first vaccine shot last week, which is similar to the previous two weeks. About 55.8% of the state has completed their two-shot recommendation - or one-shot if it's the Johnson & Johnson variant.
Here is a breakdown of Southeast Michigan county vaccine rate coverages:
- Wayne County - 62.83%
- Washtenaw County - 66.95%
- Oakland County - 66.41%
- Macomb County - 55.42%
- St. Clair County - 48.71%
- Livingston County - 57.92%
At least one county, Leelanau, has already hit 75% coverage.
But the state has its work cut out for it. Several counties in the middle and southern portions of the state are below 50% coverage. In Hillsdale and Cass County, rates are in the mid-30s.
And in Detroit, only 37.4% of the city's residents are vaccinated - about 207.937.
Regardless of the reason behind the hesitancy, a lack of protection is a problem as it can lead to more infections, more deaths, the potential for a new and more deadly variant of COVID-19, and an unbalanced immunity across the state.
"We're not COVID-free yet. Remember that to wash our hands, keep our distances as needed, and just enjoy the spaces that we're able to provide," said Shahida Mausi, president and CEO of The Right Productions.
Michigan could continue to see flare-ups of the coronavirus in places that vaccines haven't made as much progress, which could prolong the disease's presence in Michigan and its threat to vulnerable populations.
Tuesday is significant not for the increase of protection, but the scaling back of pandemic orders.
Some restrictions for nursing homes and prisons will remain, but event limits, capacity restrictions, mask mandates, and most other health orders that residents have needed to navigate through the last year-and-a-half are now lifted.