DETROIT (CN) --- Michigan is reeling from a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases driven by a potpourri of foreign variants that have infiltrated the state as the governor ponders new restrictions and pleads with the federal government for more vaccines, to no avail.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, announced last Friday that the Wolverine State had just surpassed 5 million administered doses of Covid-19 vaccines, but still asked the Biden administration to send more to help curb the rising numbers.
“Right now our numbers are alarming,” she said at a press conference. “That’s why I’m renewing my call on the federal government to surge additional vaccines to our state.”
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in response that it would be more effective if the state simply shut down again as it did last spring to flatten the curve.
Professor Florence J. Dallo, director of wellness and health promotion at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, agreed.
“In my opinion, the best approach to deal with the spike is to shut down the places that are highly associated with transmission of the virus,” she wrote in an email.
Whitmer asked, but did not order, high schools to shift back to remote learning and suspend in-person activities for youth sports for the next two weeks. She also encouraged restaurants to suspend indoor seating.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, concurred.
“Parents and athletes need to understand the risk involved with youth sports if they choose to participate,” she said in a statement last week.
Dallo believes relaxed restrictions and the push to reopen businesses was a mistake that had grave consequences.
“I think the state opened too quickly,” the professor wrote. "We have enough research to suggest that states that opened too early saw a rise in Covid-19 positive cases.”
A month ago, Michigan marked the grim one-year anniversary of the first cases of Covid-19 detected in the state. Since then, more than 756,000 Michiganders have caught the virus and over 16,000 have perished.
An Oakland County resident and Wayne County resident, who both reported traveling internationally, were the first in the state to contract the respiratory disease on March 10, 2020. Cases continued to rise with a peak of around 2,000 new cases a day in early April 2020 but flatlined over the summer at about 1,000 cases a day, until October when a massive increase began. The new daily reported cases exploded to around 7,000 per day by November while deaths averaged about 120 a day.
A slow but steady decrease followed through the winter months, but the new spring surge associated with highly contagious new strains has plunged the state back into uncertainty as the numbers approach and surpass November highs.
The area of Michigan affectionately known as the “thumb” of the mitten-shaped state is now a raging hot spot with climbing case numbers.
According to a report from the Huron Daily Tribune, there was a statewide test positivity rate of 14.7% on April 11. However, counties in the “thumb” region, like Huron County, reported a 24% positivity rate, while Tuscola County had a rate of 22% and Sanilac County was worst in the region with a 35% positivity rate.
Bryant Wilke, public health director for Sanilac County, lamented how some citizens have brazenly disregarded recommendations.
“There’s been a defiance towards masks, and I think it was because it got so political at the beginning of the pandemic,” he told MLive. “People said, 'we don’t trust this. we never had to do it before,' even though it's been proven that it is a protective factor…and now we’re seeing the causation of not doing it.”