Whitmer rolls out updated vaccination plan, state reports 4,326 new COVID-19 cases 

Dr. Joneigh Khladun gives an update on COVID-19 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported Wednesday that 508,736 total Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 12,918 have died from the virus, which is an additional 4,326 cases and 51 deaths since Tuesday.

DHHS reports that an additional 42,762 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 749 probable deaths. Combining the state’s confirmed positive cases with probable cases brings the total up to 551,498 statewide cases and confirmed deaths with probable deaths brings the total up to 13,667 deaths. The department began tracking probable cases and deaths on April 5. 

During a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the state will be moving to a new phase of vaccination on Monday, which will include vaccinations for Michiganders age 65 and older, preK-12 teachers and childcare providers, and frontline essential workers, including police officers, first responders, frontline state and federal workers and jail and prison staff.

“We are pleased to move the state forward in the next stage of vaccinations,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “These vaccines are safe and effective, and we especially want our first responders, teachers and older adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The strategy we are announcing today is efficient, effective, and equitable, focusing on making vaccines available to those who have the highest level of risk, whether it is because of where they work or because of their age.”

Detroit kicks off COVID-19 vaccine distribution

DHHS is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for prioritization of distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. 

The vaccination phases are:

  • Phase 1A: Paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home as well as residents in long term care facilities.
  • Phase 1B: Persons 75 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.
  • Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety and protection during the COVID-19 response.
  • Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.

“We are extremely appreciative that Governor Whitmer and DHHS Director [Robert] Gordon have prioritized educators for receiving the COVID vaccine,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “Making sure educators and students are safe has been our priority.  The availability of the vaccine will go a long way towards teachers and students being able to safely teach and learn in the classroom.”

The state’s goal is to have 70% of Michiganders over 16 vaccinated by the end of 2021.

The virus has been detected in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. The state’s COVID-19 fatality rate is 2.5%.

‘There is an end to this pandemic’ 

Oakland and Wayne counties have the highest number of confirmed cases with 56,150 and 56,346 respectively. Combined with the city of Detroit, which has its own health department, the whole of Wayne County is reporting a total of 82,710 cases and 3,513 deaths.

Keweenaw is currently the only county in the state with total case numbers lower than 100. The majority of counties have caseloads in the thousands.

Other counties reporting case numbers over 10,000 include Macomb, Kent, Genesee, Ottawa, Washtenaw, Ingham, Saginaw and Kalamazoo.

The first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state on March 10. Whitmer declared a state of emergency that day.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are more than 86.9 million confirmed cases worldwide and 1.9 million deaths. About one-fifth of those are in the United States, where more than 21.2 million confirmed cases and 359,593 deaths have been recorded.