Michigan Winning COVID-19 Surge Sweepstakes Like A Common Florida
Michigan now tops the nation in COVID-19 cases per capita. That's not great news. You wouldn't want to throw a parade, which would only spread more coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan has averaged 361.5 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. New Jersey is number two (as usual) with 351.7 cases per 100,000 people, and Connecticut is third with 246 cases per 100,000 people.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked the White House Tuesday if it could please send more vaccines. This was during a meeting with the National Governors Association, and because the president is no longer a low-life gangster, she didn't have to kiss his ass to get help. White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the Biden administration will do "everything we can to support you as you face a difficult situation in Michigan."
Later, Whitmer said that next week Michigan will receive more vaccines to help mitigate the surge in cases in the state. She said the state's direct allocation will increase by 66,020 doses, for a total of 620,040 vaccines, a weekly record high for Michigan. This includes 147,800 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Millions of additional doses will be sent to federally partnered retail pharmacies in the U.S., which includes numerous locations in Michigan, she said.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have risen 600 percent over the past month. B.1.1.7, the more contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in Britain, has hit Michigan hard, especially in the Thumb and northern Michigan, the state's biggest hotspots. Michigan currently has the second-most cases (after Florida) of the variant.
The variant is also affecting younger people, who are showing up at the hospital in worse shape than seen previously with the original recipe coronavirus. And by “younger" we mean hella young: Infections among 10- to 19-year-olds have increased 117 percent, and cases in the 40 to 49 age group went up 127 percent. This is all over the past three weeks.
Joshua Petrie is a research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, and he thinks the variant is "concerning" but not the primary driver of the surge. He said that Michigan might just be naturally "catching up to where other states are." Whitmer had imposed sensible COVID-19 restrictions for almost a year. The state ranked 43rd overall for infection rates per 100,000 people. The result was that Michigan had one of the largest populations of people without a natural immunity.
This doesn't justify South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem's freewheeling COVID-19 response where she let the virus burn through the state. That callous approach compromised neighboring states such as Minnesota. (Noem also isn't willing to share South Dakota's current vaccine supply with other states, despite having had an open door policy on the virus.)
No, Michigan's troubles arguably stem from relaxing restrictions too soon like a common MAGA state. Effective February 1, schools reopened, and restaurants and bars resumed indoor service at 25 percent capacity. The COVID-19 variant was first identified in the US in December 2020, so this wasn't entirely out of left field. However, Whitmer has done her best managing the pandemic while surrounded by morons. Republican leaders in the House and Senate sued the governor last summer over the use of her emergency powers. Even now, while cases are surging, Republicans passed legislation curbing the state's pandemic restrictions. Whitmer has vetoed past GOP efforts to pretend the virus doesn't exist, which pissed off Republicans who think Whitmer's a tyrant because she freely uses the powers of her office.
Whitmer's current goal is to have 70 percent of Michigan residents who are 16 and older vaccinated by the end of the year. As of Sunday, Michigan was at 32.5 percent. Last month, Black residents accounted for just 3.7 percent of those vaccinated, and they are 14 percent of the total population. Let's hope that statistic improves and soon.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).