Michigan's COVID-19 vaccine rate hits 55%, in-office work could resume in two weeks

Two weeks from Monday, workers across Michigan would be able to leave their work-from-home setup and return to office work, now that the state has administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccinate to over 55% of its residents over 16 against COVID-19.

Michigan crossed the first threshold on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's plan to get residents vaccinated on Monday. The Mi Vacc to Normal plan was released in April and outlines a baseline guide for opening Michigan back up. And step one on that plan would begin two weeks AFTER 55% of the state has gotten protected.

Two weeks after 4,453,304 adults over the age of 16 have gotten their shot, the state will allow all in-person work for all sectors of business to resume. That means, according to the state, on May 24th, in-person work will be permitted to resume across the state in every business sector.

Whitmer released a video statement on Twitter saying this is the first step to get the state back to normal.

"We're able to take this step forward thanks to every Michigander who has gotten their shot. The next step will happen two weeks after 60% of Michiganders get their first doses," Whitmer said.

She also thanked everyone who had received their first doses and urged those who have not to discuss the vaccine with their doctor.

It's a small relaxing of rules and not one that has boiled at the center of controversy over coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic. But as Michigan elevates its protection coverage, more of the state will open.

Following the state's guidelines, two weeks after another 400,000 residents get vaccinated (60% of the population), indoor capacity at sports stadiums, conference centers, banquet halls, and funeral homes will increase to 25%. This will also increase capacity at exercise facilities and gyms to 50%.

The second step will also lift the curfew of 11 p.m. for bars and restaurants to close.

When Michigan gets to step three - 5.2 million residents (65%) - all indoor capacity limits will be lifted but social distancing will be required. It will also relax limits on residential social gatherings.

The final step will be the biggest of all. Two weeks after 70% of Michigan residents are vaccinated (5.6 million people), the state will lift the gatherings and face masks order and will no longer employ broad mitigation measures unless there is a spread of vaccine-resistant variants.

Public health experts weren't worried about reaching 55% coverage. It's the 70% goal established by the state last year that seems more out of reach. 

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There are also questions about what immunity may mean in the future. At least 850,000 Michigan citizens have contracted the virus, which could build on statewide protection. But experts warn this kind of thinking doesn't factor in the uncertainty of protection that post-infection offers. 

Vaccines offer at least six months of protection and likely much more. However, that hasn't been completely determined due to the short time the vaccine has been on the market. Immunity from a previous infection is less known.