by Scott McClallen
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has once again ditched her COVID-19 reopening plan, announcing the state will drop its COVID-19 restrictions on June 22. Her previous plan dropped restrictions on July 1.
“Today is a day that we have all been looking forward to, as we can safely get back to normal day-to-day activities and put this pandemic behind us,” Whitmer said in a statement.
Whitmer thanked those who received vaccinations. She also thanked medical staff and other frontline workers.
“Thanks to the millions of Michiganders who rolled up their sleeves to get the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine, we have been able to make these changes ahead of schedule. Our top priority going forward is utilizing the federal relief funding in a smart, sustainable way as we put Michigan back to work and jumpstart our economy. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that Michigan’s families, small businesses, and communities emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before.”
Nearly 5 million Michiganders ages 16 and older have received their first vaccine dose. Half of Michigan residents have completed their vaccination and over 60% have gotten their first shots.
“This is great news and a day all of us have been looking forward to for more than a year,” Michigan Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “We have said all along that the vaccine would help us return to a sense of normalcy and today we announce that day is here.”
The move follows California and New York dropping COVID-19 restrictions.
Michigan has enacted COVID-19 restrictions on 10 million Michiganders for 15 months. More than 3,000 restaurants permanently closed in 2020.
Case rates, percent positivity, and hospitalizations and deaths have all plummeted over the past several weeks. Currently, Michigan has a 1.9% positivity rate over the last seven days.
Michigan Freedom Fund Director Tori Sachs said both dates to revoke restrictions were arbitrary.
“Michiganders will not forget the destruction that occurred under @GovWhitmer’s healths orders that she herself refused to follow,” Sachs tweeted. “July 1 was arbitrary. June 22 is arbitrary. Instead of following political science, Whitmer should end all the restrictions today.”
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Joneigh Khaldun welcomed the news.
“This is a great day, however, there is more work to be done,” Khaldun said in a statement. “We can’t let our guard down as there continue to be several variants of the COVID-19 virus circulating in our state, including the concerning Delta variant. The COVID-19 vaccine is the most important tool we have to reduce the spread of the virus and I urge everyone ages 12 and up who has not yet received their vaccine to get it as soon as possible.”
Statewide, indoor capacity will return to 100%.
Additional orders rescinded include:
- Temporary restrictions for entry into congregate care and juvenile justice facilities
- Mandatory testing for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ juvenile justice facility staff
- Mandatory testing for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services hospitals and centers staff
- Exceptions to temporary restrictions on entry into congregate care and juvenile justice facilities
- Exceptions to temporary restrictions on entry into certain facilities
- Safe Housing for housing unstable individuals
- Handling of bodily remains
- Safe Housing for Michigan homeless
Some orders will remain in effect to protect vulnerable populations in corrections, long-term care, and agriculture. Public health measures will continue for reporting requirements and COVID-19 testing to identify high community, so kids are safe in school. Free COVID-19 tests are available. Guidance for children staff in schools will be released next week.
MDHHS will provide recommendations to keep Michiganders safe and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in higher-risk settings.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Grand Rapids” by Rachel Kramer CC 2.0.