State still watching the numbers, not changing regulations
Fri, 01/08/2021 - 10:14am caleb
Current MDHHS ‘Gatherings and Face Mask Order’ still in place until January 15 as vaccination effort continues
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive, offered a COVID-19 status update to the state on Wednesday, January 6, that included information on the vaccination effort but no announcement of changes to the current regulations in Michigan.
The current “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – a list of regulations that sets limits on gatherings and bans indoor dining at restaurants and bars – is set to expire on Friday, January 15. Previous iterations of the order have been extended, and other versions have been modified to reduce regulations. Governor Whitmer, during Tuesday’s update, said it is too early to announce what will happen with the current order.
“We are going to continue to watch the numbers very closely. The order that has been in effect from DHHS goes through the 15th, and so I’d anticipate some more days of data before a determination is made on what the next steps look like,” Governor Whitmer said.
Dr. Khaldun said some of the current numbers are encouraging while others are not.
“As of yesterday we had 504,410 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 12,867 deaths,” Dr. Khaldun said. “Cases have been plateauing over the past week after having a clear decline over the previous 46 days. Our case rate is more than twice what it was in the beginning of October. Twelve-point-six percent of inpatient beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients. That is down from 19.6 percent on December 4, which is a good thing; however, the percent of tests that are positive is now at 9.6 percent and this is concerning as it had been at 8.2 percent on December 27.”
“We also know that over the holidays the number of tests being done across the state also went down. So overall I am concerned that we may be seeing a slowing of progress we were making before the holidays,” Dr. Khaldun said.
“We know that the rate of decline in our cases is slowing and we still need to see if there will be a post holiday surge in cases and we also want to make sure that we are protecting our healthcare system so that people can get good care for both COVID and non-COVID related conditions,” Dr. Khaldun said.
Dr. Khaldun and Governor Whitmer said the vaccination effort in Michigan is proceeding, and they announced that the state will move into a new phase of its plan.
“We have been working with local public health departments and providers to begin distribution among our most vulnerable populations,” Governor Whitmer said. “Last week we began distributing the vaccines to our skilled nursing home residents and staff and in the past three weeks we have administered more than 152,000 vaccines.”
“By January 11, all counties may begin vaccinating Michiganders who are 65 and up. This will include some essential workers who will also be vaccinated, workers like our school and child care staff, frontline local, state, and federal first responders, and staff in our jails and prisons and in shelters,” Governor Whitmer said.
State officials said the new phase of vaccinations will start as the current phase, which includes healthcare workers and others, continues.
Governor Whitmer said people over the age of 65 should view the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website – Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine – to see when local health departments will start accepting appointments for vaccinations. Dr. Khaldun said state and local health departments will work with employers of eligible frontline workers on vaccination schedules.
Dr. Khaldun said 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths occur in people age 65 and over.
“We want to focus on those who are the most vulnerable to severe illness,” Dr. Khaldun said. “We encourage our older Michiganders, particularly those who are over the age of 75, to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
“The quicker we act to distribute this vaccine the quicker we can reduce the strain on our healthcare system and put an end to this pandemic once and for all,” Governor Whitmer said.
Munson Healthcare, during an online press conference on Tuesday, January 5, reported a decrease in COVID-19 inpatients in its northern Michigan hospitals for December of 2020.
“We continue to see good news in rate of increase,” said Dr. Christine Nefcy, Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer.
Munson Healthcare officials reported that as of 8 a.m. on January 5, 5,371 of its “team members” had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with most of those getting the Pfizer version.
Munson Healthcare, as of January 5, was still in Tier 1A of its Vaccine Priority Levels, vaccinating “healthcare workers” and “residents and staff of skilled nursing facilities.”
On Thursday, January 7, District Health Department #10, which covers Crawford County, announced it was proceeding into part of its Phase 1B vaccination effort, offering appointments for “persons 65 and older, first responders (police and fire), (and) jails/corrections staff.”
The department requests that eligible people schedule their appointments online through a link from www.dhd10.org; however, on Friday morning, January 8, the website did not have the link available.
“Due to vaccine shortage, we have reached full capacity for our clinics. We will post the link again to schedule once vaccine is available,” according to District Health Department #10. “Some individuals who are already scheduled may be rescheduled due to vaccine shortage. We will notify you via the email you entered when you scheduled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and ask for your continued patience.”
DHD#10 is asking people not to call the department for appointments.
“At this time, we ask that individuals please refrain from calling the department to ask about scheduling the vaccine. We will continue to keep our communities updated via press release, social media, our website at www.dhd10.org/covid-19-vaccine, and our Public Health Alert. If you have not subscribed to our Public Health Alert, please do so at www.dhd10.org/subscribe. We ask for your patience as we continue to plan and prepare for additional COVID-19 vaccination clinics,” according to District Health Department #10.