Governor requests, doesn’t order, COVID restrictions

The governor wants people to pause sports and avoid restaurants, but stopped short of ordering new restrictions.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference on Friday morning that many expected to include new restrictions meant to curb Michigan’s surging COVID-19 numbers. Instead, she merely requested that schools pause in-person classes and sports and that people avoid indoor restaurants.

That has left many health experts flummoxed as the state nears its worst rate of COVID hospitalizations on record.

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What Happened: As Michigan continued to have the worst COVID numbers in the nation, Whitmer addressed reporters in a virtual press conference on Friday.

The governor requested that school districts pause all in-person activity – including sports – for two weeks while the state ramps up its vaccination efforts. She also called on individuals to avoid indoor restaurants and continue to follow COVID precautions.

But the requests are just suggestions, and not mandates with the force of law behind them.

“Policy change alone won’t change the tide. We need everyone to step up and to take personal responsibility here,” she said.

So far, most school districts have no plans to cancel spring athletics, despite the rising number of outbreaks tied to such activities.

Instead of mandates, Whitmer focused on the role of vaccines in digging us out of the hole we’re in.

“I am concerned because I believe, as do a number of public health experts, that we really should be surging vaccines to state,” she said, citing her request of the Biden administration to send larger shipments of vaccines to Michigan.

Blowback: Some health experts aren’t convinced that vaccines alone will turn back the surge.

“They’re relying on the vaccine to get us to the end, and I don’t think we’re going to get where we need to be soon enough given how fast cases are growing,” said Dr. Matt Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health, in an interview with Bridge Michigan.

He admits that Whitmer faces blowback from residents if she were to institute new restrictions.

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