Gov. Recommends Two-Week Pause For In-Person Learning, Youth Sports, Avoid Indoor Dining
April 13, 2021
The governor is calling on high schools to voluntarily pause in-person learning for two weeks after their spring break, that youth sports also be suspended for two weeks, and that Michigan residents choose to avoid indoor dining.
As of Friday, Michigan reported 7,834 new cases of COVID-19 and 26 new deaths — bringing the totals up to 731,131 cases and 16,426 cumulative deaths. Friday marked a third consecutive day-over-day increase of weekly average cases and the highest case average since Dec. 2.
“To be very clear, these are not orders, mandates or requirements,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at Friday’s 10 a.m. press conference. “Our recent rise in cases is a compliance, variance and mobility issue. We know enough about COVID-19 after a year of living with it that we know what works and what we have to do to reduce cases.”
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said the state is currently at 515 cases per 1 million people — four times the amount of cases during the middle of February.
The percent of positive COVID-19 tests has increased to 18% — additionally four times the amount experienced in the middle of February.
“We have not seen that high of a positivity rate since our first surge last spring a year ago, and that’s concerning because we are doing many more tests than we were then,” Khaldun said. “And this indicates that there is now broad community spread.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is additionally tracking 991 outbreaks of COVID-19 in counties all across the state, including instances within K-12 schools, manufacturing and construction sites, long-term care facilities, childcare places, retail establishments and restaurants and bars.
“We have seen 58 new outbreaks in just restaurant and retail settings alone in the past week compared to the previous week,” Khaldun said. “Because we are seeing so many cases a day, our public health system is overwhelmed. We are not able to get information on many cases, nor are we able to identify their close contacts.”
She explained because of how swamped Michigan’s public health system is, the state does not know where all the cases or outbreaks are.
With the press conference delivering recommendations instead of orders, Khaldun advised that “just because something is open, it does not mean that it is safe.”
Residents are being encouraged to resist gatherings with multiple households — and if they do choose to congregate, it should be outside, small and masked-up.
“You should get tested if you’ve been exposed. Especially if you just returned from a spring break trip, get tested. We’ve worked with local partners to set up testing sites at some state welcome centers and airports even, to make sure it’s easy for you to check, get tested and make sure you don’t bring COVID home,” Khaldun said.
The Republican Governors Association released a statement on the governor’s press conference and suggestions and described her as being “asleep at the wheel while COVID-19 rages on in Michigan.”
Locally, House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) expressed being glad that Whitmer had encouraged personal responsibility and safety instead of “one-size-fits-all mandates and restrictions.”
“Now let’s take the next logical step. Let’s remove the remaining restrictions in Michigan, put everyone back to work when they can do it safely and trust the people of this state to do the right thing for themselves and their families,” Wentworth said in a press release.
He said other states throughout the country are providing hope to their residents by setting firm timelines for when normal life will resume. Emphasizing that Michigan has failed to provide such a calendar, Wentworth concluded that “it is well past time we catch up and give people the certainty they deserve.”
Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) illustrated the event as Whitmer “finally agreeing with the Legislature that the Michigan people are the best ones to decide what is best for them.”
In his press release on Friday’s event, Zorn added that the President needs to step up and send more COVID-19 vaccine doses to the state.
“The President should have already recognized Michigan’s COVID-19 needs and stepped up to help remedy the crisis,” Zorn said. “I join the governor’s call for everyone to reduce their risk of exposure and to consider if getting one of the vaccines is best for their health.”
Friday’s affairs received criticism from both the K-12 Alliance of Michigan and the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), although both statements were coming from different arguments.
President Mark Greathead of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan and superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools said that he as an educator was “neither qualified nor should be expected” to decide if it’s safe for students to return to in-person learning.
“Today’s announcement from Governor Whitmer, unfortunately, raised serious concerns about the rapid rise in COVID-19 numbers while leaving us to determine how to respond to that on behalf of our students’ health,” Greathead said. “While educators are best suited to make the decisions necessary to support our students’ learning and social growth, we need health experts to determine how and when that can be done safely.”
GLEP made a comparison to when schools were closed down for the rest of the academic year during Spring 2020, including that Whitmer was making the suggestion for school operations “just as the spring assessment window opens, with billions of federal dollars waiting to help students and schools.”
“While students are locked out of classrooms, we’ve seen too many fall into a crisis of despair. Our kids deserve better from Governor Whitmer and the public school bureaucracy. They deserve safely open classrooms,” said GLEP Executive Director Beth DeShone.
Michigan is foreshadowing more than 4,500 hospitalizations by this arriving Monday and 800 patients in the intensive care unit.
As of Wednesday, Michigan residents 20-29 years-old had the highest daily amount of cases with 1,000-plus instances each day.
More than 5.1 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the state, with nearly 40% of the population having received a vaccine in less than four months.
“There is a light at the end of this tunnel, but the recent rise in cases is a reminder that we are still in the tunnel. The only way out is forward and together. We have all the tools we need — we know what works,” Whitmer said.