200+ federal workers coming to help Michigan with COVID vaccinations

    Ford Field vaccination site | Laina G. Stebbins

    More than 200 federal personnel are headed to the state to assist at three mass COVID-19 vaccination sites: DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, as well as Ford Field and TCF Center in Detroit. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had asked for more federal help in immunizations. 

    “We appreciate the support from our federal partners, especially adding additional boots on the ground to allow for more shots in arms more quickly,” said Whitmer through a statement. “We are still fighting this virus, and we must continue masking up, socially distancing, washing our hands, and crucially, getting vaccinated. I will continue fighting to make sure Michigan gets the support it needs so we can get back to normal sooner.” 

    It comes at a time when Michigan has ranked as the nation’s leader in recent days in the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. Personnel will serve both clinical and non-clinical roles at the sites. They are being deployed from the Department of Defense, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, support is being provided to hire additional ambulance personnel for these sites. They began arriving Wednesday and are expected to be fully operational no later than next Wednesday. 

    U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support Whitmer’s request for more resources. 

    “Getting shots into the arms of Michiganders as quickly as possible is essential to combating this pandemic,” Peters said.  

    Kevin Sligh, FEMA Region 5 acting regional administrator, said the deployment is part of the agency’s “continued commitment to support the state of Michigan’s vaccination effort.” 

    Michigan this week reached 6 million vaccine doses administered, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. To date, 47% of Michiganders 16 and older  have received at least one dose, with 33% of Michiganders being fully vaccinated, moving the state closer to its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible. 

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.