CDC chief urges Michigan to ‘close things down’ amid coronavirus spike


DETROIT, MI – APRIL 06: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer prepares to receive a dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine at Ford Field during an event to promote and encourage Michigan residents to go and get their vaccines on April 6, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. As the US reaches a milestone in vaccinations, a surge of new Covid-19 cases has swept through the US with Michigan seeing the highest numbers of new cases. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The White House coronavirus response team said Monday it was prepared to send additional therapeutic treatments to the state of Michigan, which is experiencing a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, but declined to promise more vaccine as the state sought.

White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt said the government would work to ensure that states such as Michigan were ordering the full amount of vaccine that was available to them but said that shifting distribution was not in line with the administration’s public health strategy.

“We have to remember the fact that in the next two to six weeks, the variants that we’ve seen … in Michigan, those variants are also … present in other states,” he said on a Monday conference call.

“So our ability to vaccinate people quickly in each of those states rather than taking vaccines and shifting it to playing Whack-a-Mole isn’t the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out,” he said.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has pleaded with the federal government to increase the number of vaccines allotted to her state to address a dangerous surge in cases but has been rebuffed.

Michigan recorded more than 51,000 new coronavirus cases in the past week with a testing positivity of 17.48%, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Michigan should “close things down” to help address coronavirus infections after Whitmer instead urged people to voluntarily restrict certain activities.

“So when you have an acute situation, extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccine,” Walensky said. “The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to back to where we were last spring, last summer … to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another, to test … to contact trace.”

The Democratic governor last spring issued a monthslong stay-at-home order and lifted it in June while keeping in place various restrictions. In November, amid a second wave of cases, her administration tightened limits before loosening them in recent months.

Whitmer has faced fierce political backlash from conservatives in her Midwestern state for her COVID-19 restrictions, including armed groups entering the state capitol and a foiled plot to kidnap her.

Earlier Monday, Whitmer again said the ongoing third surge in Michigan is different because of vaccines and, unlike a year ago, it is known that masks are effective and the state has adequate testing and personal protective equipment.

“We each have enough information to do our part,” she said. “That’s what we’re calling on people to do — to do your part.”

The Biden administration has highlighted an increase in vaccination rates across the country while warning Americans to continue wearing masks, maintain social distance, and follow other health protocols to prevent another major COVID-19 surge.

About 72.6 million people, or 21.9% of the U.S. population, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc/ BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, according to CDC data. 35.9% of the U.S. population, or 119.2 million adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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