No new orders: Whitmer, MDHHS ask high schools to go virtual, residents to avoid dining in restaurants

As Michigan's COVID-19 cases have surged wildly over the past few weeks, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are urging everyone to take stronger precaution but stopped short of issuing new orders.

During a press briefing on Friday, the governor addressed the surge in cases and the efforts to vaccinate more people throughout the state of Michigan. As of Friday morning, more than 5.1 million vaccine doses of some form have been administered with over 3.1 million people in the state being fully vaccinated. Just a week ago, 4 million doses had been administered.

Related: Deaths climb, cases spike as state works to vaccinate more people

Cases for children aged 0-19 are at an all-time high, and numerous schools have outbreaks. As of Wednesday, the state was reporting 301 school outbreaks.

Some districts have moved back and forth between in-person and remote learning as cases popped up in schools.

School officials have attributed many of these outbreaks to activities and gatherings outside of the classroom, such as sports and students hanging out with friends. Basketball, hockey, and wrestling have been the leading cause of sports outbreaks, according to state health officials.

The governor said the increase in vaccines and accessibility is the light at the end of the tunnel, but we're still not there yet and said everyone needs to continue wearing masks, social distancing from others, staying home as much as possible, and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

She said getting the vaccine is the best way to say thank you to the hospital workers, staff, and personnel at the three vaccine manufacturers.

MORE: State announces 37 pop-up COVID-19 testing sites for spring break travelers

"I went to get back to normal as much as everyone else. I'm tired of this," said Whitmer. 

Stopping short of issuing new restrictions, Whitmer said they're recommending high schools go virtual for two weeks.

"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."

During the question and answer portion, the governor reiterated that these were not orders but also said that she's not taking that option off the table in the future.

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 said the state has the right tools and orders already in place and said that new orders weren't necessary.

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

As cases surge, the governor is pushing for a vaccine surge from the Biden Administration. 

Detailing a conversation she had with the President on Tuesday, Whitmer said she pushed for a vaccine surge program on the national level where vaccines would go to states, like Michigan, that are experiencing increases in cases.

She said she was rebuffed on that request but said she will continue, saying that more Johnson & Johnson doses are necessary because of the convenience of one-dose.

"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."

There have also been big concerns about cases rising in schools after spring break travel. The state has even opened pop-up testing sites and is urging students to get tested before they return to school.