Michigan hits first COVID-19 vaccine goal, to roll back workplace restrictions May 24 – Detroit Free Press

Michigan hit its first vaccination benchmark Monday in the plan that ties rolling back COVID-19 restrictions to residents getting their first dose of a vaccine. 

The move comes as Michigan remains the worst COVID-19 hot spot in the country with a seven-day average of 190.3 cases per 100,000 people, despite weeks of declining case rates, test positivity and hospitalizations. 

“Two weeks from now, we can take the first step on our path to get (back) to normal,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday in a tweeted video. 

“On May 24, all workplaces will be allowed to return for in-person work. And we’re able to take this step forward thanks to every Michigander who has gotten their shot.”

As of Monday afternoon, 4,455,395 Michiganders had received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That’s just a smidge over the 55% of eligible people receiving an initial vaccine dose included in a series of goals outlined recently by Whitmer. 

More: Michigan: 54% vaccinated for COVID-19, including residents outside state

More: Rural Michigan counties face COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Michigan hit this mark faster than previously anticipated in large part because state health leaders announced late Friday they have changed the data they use to determine the statewide vaccination rate. Now, they’re using a compilation of state data and information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By changing the formula, Michigan added almost 227,000 people to the vaccination total. Those additional people were Michiganders who got shots in other states and at federal prisons, Veteran’s Affairs hospitals, Department of Defense facilities and other sites that aren’t reported to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, state health officials said. 

A health department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions. 

Under the state’s plan, starting two weeks from Monday, employers no longer need to require remote work for most employees.

However, that does not mean an immediate return to normalcy: the state’s current workplace restrictions order includes roughly 10 pages of guidance and regulations. That guidance includes requiring employers to come up with a plan that keeps employees safe, including mask and social distancing requirements.

In a press release, Whitmer said by May 24 “we anticipate” allowing employers to have more employees work on-site. 

Sean Egan, COVID-19 workplace safety director for the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, used similar language. In a statement, he said the state “anticipates” nixing the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement “prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”

Egan was a bit cryptic on whether any other rules or requirements would change in light of the state hitting the first benchmark. 

“MIOSHA is in the process of reviewing both the emergency rules and draft permanent rules as the state meets and exceeds certain vaccination rates. MIOSHA’s rulemaking is flexible in that the agency has the ability to modify or rescind all or parts of each rule set to best protect Michigan workers as the pandemic moves closer to ending,” Egan said in a statement.

More: Why Michigan is extending COVID-19 workplace restrictions, and what those rules require

More: Whitmer’s plan to ease COVID-19 regulations leaves larger legislative compromise in flux

In mid-April the state extended workplace regulations for another six months. It was one of the few moves by the Whitmer administration to not ease restrictions.

At the time, the state noted the Michigan Occupational and Safety Health Administration received more than 12,000 complaints from employees who allege their workplace did not follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

For months, Republicans and some business leaders criticized workplace regulations, arguing in part the measures amounted to a ban on employees returning to the office.

“Extending these rules for another six months is a body blow many businesses may never recover from,” Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a frequent Whitmer critic, said when the state extended restrictions in April. 

“Despite the rapid distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the ability to safely manage office spaces, the governor used work groups as cover for her predetermined decision to close businesses for up to a year. Gov. Whitmer’s inability to find ways to work with job creators to restart our economy is a complete leadership failure that will cause economic pain for Michigan workers for years to come.”

The labor department has repeatedly pushed back, noting the restrictions allowed employers to determine which employees need to go to an office or worksite.

The state plans to roll back additional regulations two weeks after 60%, 65% and 70% of eligible Michigan residents receive their first vaccine dose. Even if tweens become eligible for the vaccine this week — a move expected by many — Michigan will not count them toward the goals needed to ease pandemic regulations. 

More: Michigan eases COVID-19 rules on wearing masks outside, during youth sports

More: Michigan won’t count kid vaccinations in data tied to easing COVID-19 restrictions

Michigan ranks 26th nationally per capita in administering COVID-19 vaccines, according to the CDC.

The volume of first doses administered each week in the state has been steadily falling since April 10, when about 396,000 first doses were administered. In the week of May 1, about 154,000 first doses were administered — a 61% decline, state data shows.  

As demand drops off, state health officials are no longer requesting the full weekly allotment of doses available from the federal government, Sutfin said. 

“There has been a change in the supply-demand for vaccines nationally and in Michigan recently,” she told the Free Press in an email last week. 

“We continue to move forward with vaccination efforts here in our state by bringing vaccines to the homebound, into neighborhoods, churches and other venues that are convenient for all Michigan residents to access. We encourage Michiganders to talk to their families and friends about getting the COVID-19 vaccine as it will protect them from the worst impacts of this deadly virus.

“We continually monitor inventory around the state to ensure that vaccine is being administered as quickly as possible,” Sutfin said. “Providers have been urged to share with other providers and increase outreach and communications to promote vaccination uptake if necessary.

Since the pandemic began, 865,349 Michiganders have had confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 18,239 have died from the virus.

Contact Dave Boucher at dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

Sorgente articolo:
Michigan hits first COVID-19 vaccine goal, to roll back workplace restrictions May 24 – Detroit Free Press

User ID Campaign ID Link
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999994 Email Marketing
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999993 Advertise with MDP
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999996 Conference
d9a95efa0a2845057476957a427b0499 l-99999984 Cloud Realtime