Gov. Whitmer, Congresswoman Dingell reiterate need to get COVID vaccine at EMU

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell spoke Monday morning after touring the COVID-19 vaccination site at Eastern Michigan University, urging residents to find a vaccine

Whitmer and Dingell tour the EMU vaccination site Monday and then spoke at 10:30 as the state's COVID-19 cases continue to soar, making the state the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation.

Dingell called the moment critical and stressed the need for more vaccines, specifically in Black and Latinx communities.

"We need to bring the vaccines close to home and ensure equity in the rollout process," Dingell said.

The Congresswoman admitted she was afraid to get the vaccine but said she ultimately did get it.

"I'm not gonna have a normal life unless I get that vaccine. We need to acknowledge the fear - it's real. I was really scared and, by the way, I'm standing here today, being Debbie," she said.

Whitmer spoke next, reiterating the need for people to sign up for vaccines and for the federal government to surge more doses into the state, something she touched on during her speech on Friday.

"Only way out is if we move forward and move together," the governor said

She also said she's lobbying for additional vaccines and is grateful for therapeutics and other resources from the federal government, which has bipartisan support on Washington.

"I'm grateful to have a bipartisan delegation to echo the call for more assistance to Michigan," she said.

Last week, Whitmer held a press conference to discuss COVID-19 cases and vaccinations but did not issue new orders. Instead, she recommended schools return to virtual learning for two weeks, pause youth athletics for two weeks, and urges residents not to eat indoors at restaurants.

"These are not orders, mandates, or requirements," Whitmer said. "This has to be a team effort we have to do this together. We have to fight back against variants. We have to be vaccinated to keep you and your family safe."

Whitmer was pressed why she did not issue new mandates and said that she 'wouldn't take anything off the table' in the future but said the state's residents need to voluntarily comply with current orders of wearing masks, maintaining social distance, staying home as much as possible, and getting a vaccine.

"Policy change alone won't change the tide. We need everyone to take personal responsibility here," she said.

Whitmer said that there are multiple reasons for the surge in cases. First, people have started to let their guard down as the vaccine has become more widely available. Second, previous orders have kept positivity rates low so the state is more vulnerable than others. 

"It's a behavior change. We need everyone to be a part of that," said Whitmer.

The governor is also advocating for a surge in vaccine from the Biden administration, saying that Michigan needs more Johnson & Johnson doses to vaccinate more people, faster. 

"One-shot vaccine is critical to protecting younger people and people who can't return for a second shot," she said. "It's Michigan and the midwest today, tomorrow it could be the northeast or the south or other parts of our country."