Click here to watch Whitmer’s Friday briefing live. It is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Right now, Michigan is two days away from the scheduled expiration of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s latest order.
That “pause” put tighter restrictions into effect statewide, such as eliminating indoor dining at restaurants, forcing college and high school classes to be held remotely and shutting down many entertainment and recreation venues.
When it was first announced, the pause was in effect from Nov. 18 through Dec. 8. Just before that original expiration date, the order was extended 12 days through Sunday (Dec. 20).
Though the initial announcement of the “pause” came on a Sunday evening (Nov. 15), Michigan officials have typically made extensions and modifications on weekdays, so it makes sense that Friday’s briefing could either mark the start of loosening restrictions or another extension.
Numbers trending in right direction
Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers are still much higher than medical experts would like, but Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of MDHHS, said they’re starting to move in the right direction.
Three of the most important COVID-19 metrics — case, hospitalization and positivity rates — are all on the decline.
As of Tuesday, Michigan was at 560 cases per million people, a number that had been trending downward for 22 straight days, Khaldun said. Case rates for all eight geographical regions were on the decline, she said.
Overall, 18.5% of hospital beds in the state had COVID-19 patients in them, which had also declined, according to Khaldun.
The percentage of statewide COVID-19 tests coming back positive was down to 12.3%, Khaldun said. That number had been declining for seven straight days.
Restaurants desperate to reopen
Of all the restrictions handed down in the latest MDHHS order, none have been more controversial than restaurants.
Right now, restaurants are limited to carry-out, deliver and outdoor seating. Since winter has arrived, most Michigan restaurants aren’t able to serve customers in any sit-down capacity.
On Tuesday, Whitmer was asked why restaurants are shut down when other types of places, such as malls, remain open.
“There is a ban on indoor dining, and I think that to the extent that these restaurants are seeing that happen in other realms — that is unfortunate,” Whitmer said. “We know that this virus passes easily through respiration, and that’s why (indoor dining is shut down).”
She thinks the situation will start to improve once the calendar turns to 2021.
“We know that our restaurants are hurting right now, and it is not their fault that COVID-19 has spread so far and wide across the country and across our state,” Whitmer said.
The first group of Michigan health care workers received their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
“Over the weekend, the first shipments of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine left Portage, Michigan,” Whitmer said Tuesday. “In the next week, we expect the Moderna vaccine to be approved.”
That proceeded another positive step Thursday night, as the Moderna vaccine became the second to gain a recommendation of approval from the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel.
Which vaccine should you take if both are approved? Whichever one you can, according to doctors.
“Doctors have been asking which vaccine should they take? And his answer is to take whichever vaccine is available to you,” Whitmer said. “It doesn’t matter which — the Pfizer or the Moderna, or maybe others that will come online. These are safe and effective.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warned residents to beware of scammers offering fake COVID-19 vaccines online. You can read about those scams here.
Most recent numbers
Michigan reported 4,024 new COVID-19 cases and 190 additional deaths Thursday, including 125 deaths from a Vital Records review.
In total, the state has reported 450,776 COVID-19 cases and 11,208 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
While the number of cases is still high, this is the fifth-straight single-day total that has decreased. Michigan has reported fewer than 5,000 daily cases with each announcement since Dec. 11.
Here’s the complete coverage from Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing: