Gov. wants in-person learning option by March, state reports 3,625 new COVID-19 cases Friday

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    While in-person dining in Michigan remains closed until further notice under COVID-19 public health orders, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday announced that all Michigan schools will be urged to establish an in-person learning option by March 1.

    Whitmer said that schools can ensure a “low risk of transmission” by carefully following new infection prevention protocols set forth by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

    Teachers and students may still continue remotely if they choose to do so, however.

    Starting Monday, K-12 teachers and childcare staff will be eligible for vaccinations, as well as some essential frontline workers and Michiganders 65 years of age and older.

    Those who are eligible should check with their local health departments to schedule their vaccination. DHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun acknowledged during Friday’s press conference that there may be a bit of a delay, as we “don’t have enough vaccines in the state” yet, and asked for patience in appointment availability as efforts ramp up.

    Khaldun also expressed concern over the state’s increasing COVID-19 numbers over the last week.

    “Our metrics overall tell me that we are at a pivotal moment,” Khaldun said. “The declines we were seeing prior to the holidays seem to be reversing. And I’m concerned that there were gatherings over the winter holidays, and we’re starting to see the results of that.”

    Michigan is currently seeing about 224 cases per million, which is a slight increase from the week before. The current 9.3% positivity rate has also increased.

    Khaldun encouraged those who traveled over the holidays to quarantine for 10 days and continue to wear masks properly when around other people.

    DHHS reported Friday that a total of 516,376 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 13,132 have died from the virus — an additional 3,625 cases and 38 deaths since Thursday.

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

    The state also reports that an additional 43,279 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 781 probable deaths. The department began tracking probable cases on April 5.

    Combining the state’s confirmed positive cases with probable cases brings the total up to 559,655 statewide cases and 13,913 deaths.

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

    As of Dec. 30, 363,611 people have recovered from COVID-19, according to the state.

    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 88.5 million confirmed cases worldwide and 1.9 million deaths. The United States makes up a significant portion of those, as more than 21.7 million confirmed cases and 367,143 deaths have been recorded nationally.

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).