55% of Michiganders have had their 1st COVID shot

    Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) Health Department holds a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Lansing, April 17, 2021 | Laina G. Stebbins

    Fifty-five percent of Michiganders have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Monday.

    That also means that Michigan has hit the first milestone of Whitmer’s “MI Vacc to Normal” plan, enabling in-person work to resume across all employment sectors on May 24. Whitmer announced last month that health restrictions will be lifted based on the state’s vaccination rates.

    “Everyone is eligible to get their safe, effective shots, and it’s on all of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities,” she said.

    As of Monday, Michigan has 865,349 COVID-19 cases and 18,239 residents have died from the virus.

    Michigan has administered 4,455,395 vaccines. The state’s goal is to vaccinate least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older to get closer to herd immunity.

    “The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is the most important tool we have to reduce the spread of the virus. By getting shots in their arms as soon as possible, Michiganders can help end this pandemic as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We urge all eligible Michigan residents to make an appointment or locate a walk-in vaccine clinic to get their vaccine as soon as they are able by visiting Vaccinefinder.”

    Want fewer state health orders? Get vaccinated, Whitmer says.

    Here are the steps for Whitmer’s plan:

    • Two weeks after 55% of eligible residents have received their first shot (around 4.5 million Michiganders), the state will lift remote work requirements — likely to happen by the end of next week, according to Whitmer.
    • Two weeks after 60% of eligible residents have received their first shot (around 4.9 million Michiganders), the state will lift curfews on bars and restaurants while increasing indoor capacity to 25% at sports stadiums, conference centers, banquet halls and to 50% at gyms.
    • Two weeks after 65% of eligible residents have received their first shot (around 5.3 million Michiganders), the state will lift all indoor capacity limits, relax social distancing rules and relax residential social gathering limits.
    • Two weeks after 70% of eligible residents have received their first shot (around 5.7 million Michiganders), statewide gathering and face mask orders will be lifted. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will also “no longer impose broad mitigation measures” unless unanticipated circumstances arise, including spread of the B-117 variant.

    The state’s Return-to-Office Workgroup composed of business, labor and public health experts has provided Whitmer with recommendations on how employers can begin to plan for a safe, phased reopening of offices.

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.