by Bruce Walker
A surge in COVID-19 cases in Michigan has prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to promote a two-week, voluntary lockdown of indoor dining, suspension of school sports and a full return to remote education.
Although she noted more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, the governor added the pandemic continued to wreak havoc in the state.
For example, Michigan hospitals reported 3,508 COVID-19 patients on Thursday. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released data on Thursday that revealed the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 492.1 cases per 100,000 people, the highest positivity case rate in the nation.
“Right now, our numbers are alarming, and we all have a role to play to get our state moving in the right direction again,” Whitmer said in her Friday news conference.
“That’s why I’m renewing my call on the federal government to surge additional vaccines to our state. And it’s why I’m urging high schools and youth sports to voluntarily suspend in-person activities for the next two weeks.”
Great Lakes Education Project Executive Director Beth DeShone issued a statement in which she noted the governor’s call for a two-week in-person shutdown of schools occurs within the same time frame as spring student assessments.
“The last time Governor Whitmer suggested closing things for a few weeks, her lockdown lasted a year,” DeShone said in a statement. “Now she’s suggesting closing schools again just as the spring assessment window opens, with billions of federal dollars waiting to help students and schools.
Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association President & CEO Justin Winslow also registered his disappointment in the governor’s request.
“While we support and echo the governor’s call for a surge of vaccines to be prioritized for Michigan, we believe her suggested recommendation around indoor dining is misguided and doesn’t track with available data,” Winslow said.
“Restaurant operators have done an extraordinary job of maintaining a safe and sanitized environment for guests and employees alike since reopening in February and it shows in the data,” he added. “While Michigan is experiencing an unfortunate surge that has fashioned nearly 1,000 new and ongoing COVID-19 outbreak investigations, an insignificant 0.3% of those investigations involved restaurant patrons.”
Winslow said restaurant patrons were adhering to CDC guidance by receiving vaccinations, wearing masks and social distancing.
“As we approach a herd immunity in Michigan that will transform the hospitality industry for the better, it is incumbent on us all to act with common sense and proper precaution,” Winslow said. “But the continued scapegoating of the restaurant industry without proof or reliable data won’t make it come any sooner.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.