Category Archives: COVID-19 coronavirus

The Huron Hub’s current coverage of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Whitmer announces Michigan at full capacity beginning today, COVID-19 restrictions ended

Governor Whitmer announced the reopening of state to full capacity during a press conference at Belle Isle in Detroit.

Posted by The Huron Hub | June 22, 2021

Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist today announced the reopening of state to full capacity at Belle Isle in Detroit, while highlighting the administration’s Economic Jumpstart Plan focused on strengthening the economy and putting Michigan residents back to work.

Starting today, capacity in both indoor and outdoor settings will increase to 100% and the state will no longer require residents to wear a face mask.

Small businesses and other venues still can require mask usage.

“Today is a day that we have all been waiting for, as we can safely get back to normal day-to-day activities and move forward together,” said Governor Whitmer. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the medical experts and health professionals who stood on the frontlines to keep us all safe. And we are incredibly thankful to all of the essential workers who kept our state moving. Thanks to the millions of Michiganders who rolled up their sleeves to get the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine, we have been able to make these changes ahead of schedule. Our top priority going forward is taking full advantage of the billions in federal relief funding and our $3.5 billion surplus to jumpstart our economy. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that Michigan’s families, small businesses, and communities emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before.”

Present at the announcement in Detroit were representatives of Michigan’s small businesses.

“As a small business owner Covid 19 was devastating to my business, but with the help of the State of Michigan and Governor Whitmer, we were able to maintain and stay open,” said Tiffany Barber, owner of Tiffany’s Delicious Dogs LLC. “Tiffany’s Delicious Dogs was a City of Detroit vendor for 15 years, forced to change our business model to survive. With grants and training funded by the State of Michigan, to learn new business techniques we made it together and are thankful to our great Governor and the State of Michigan for the support to make it through the storm. We look forward to getting back to business in a safe environment guided by a great leader.”

Case rates, percent positivity and hospitalizations have all plummeted over the past several weeks, while vaccination rates continue to increase.

To date, 61.2% of Michiganders ages 16 and older receiving their first vaccine dose. As part of these efforts, Michigan is partnering with organizations across the state to create more opportunities for Michigan residents to receive a vaccine.

Whitmer says state will open to full capacity on June 22

Posted by The Huron Hub | June 17, 2021

Governor Gretchen Whitmer today accelerated the end of all COVID-19 epidemic orders on gatherings and masking as COVID-19 cases continue to plummet following increased vaccinations. Beginning June 22, capacity in both indoor and outdoor settings will increase to 100% and the state will no longer require residents to wear a face mask.

“Today is a day that we have all been looking forward to, as we can safely get back to normal day-to-day activities and put this pandemic behind us,” said Governor Whitmer. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the medical experts and health professionals who stood on the front lines to keep us all safe. And we are incredibly thankful to all of the essential workers who kept our state moving. Thanks to the millions of Michiganders who rolled up their sleeves to get the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine, we have been able to make these changes ahead of schedule. Our top priority going forward is utilizing the federal relief funding in a smart, sustainable way as we put Michigan back to work and jumpstart our economy. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that Michigan’s families, small businesses, and communities emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before.”

Nearly five million Michiganders ages 16 and older have received their first vaccine dose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. According to data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, half of Michigan residents have completed their vaccination and over 60% have gotten their first shots.

Case rates, percent positivity and hospitalizations have all plummeted over the past several weeks. Currently, Michigan is experiencing 24.3 cases per million and has recorded a 1.9% positivity rate over the last seven days.  

“This is a great day, however, there is more work to be done,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We can’t let our guard down as there continue to be several variants of the COVID-19 virus circulating in our state, including the concerning Delta variant. The COVID-19 vaccine is the most important tool we have to reduce the spread of the virus and I urge everyone ages 12 and up who has not yet received their vaccine to get it as soon as possible. Talk to your health care provider, your local health department or your neighborhood pharmacist about joining the millions of Michiganders who have received their vaccine.”

In addition to the Gatherings and Mask Order, additional orders are being rescinded as of June 22.These include: 

Additionally, some orders will remain in effect to protect vulnerable populations in corrections, long-term care and agriculture. Public health measures will continue for reporting requirements and COVID testing to make sure areas where community spread is high are identified, kids are safe in school and free COVID-19 tests are available. Guidance for keeping children and staff safe in schools will be released next week.  

MDHHS will continue to provide recommendations to keep Michiganders safe and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in higher risk settings and places where vulnerable populations or populations with large numbers of individuals are not yet fully vaccinated.

Michigan to lift COVID-19 outdoor capacity limits on June 1, increase indoor capacity to 50%

Posted by The Huron Hub—Thursday, May 20, 2021

Gov. Whitmer announced Thursday morning that on June 1, all outdoor COVID-19 capacity limits will be lifted.

Additionally, indoor capacity limits will be increased to 50%.

Whitmer said that when the CDC changed its guidance on mask wearing, state officials went back to the drawing board to change the MI Vacc to Normal plan.

On July 1, the mask mandate and gatherings order will be lifted and there will no longer be any broad mitigation measures during the pandemic, Whitmer said.

Currently, Michigan is at 56.8% of Michiganders, 4,600,119 people, with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s increased only 1.8% in the past 10 days.

Initially, the state had tied reopening to vaccination rates, with four different benchmarks.

It was going to take 70% of Michiganders vaccinated before the order was lifted. That changed with the CDC guidance.

“The vaccine is the best way to keep you and your family and the most vulnerable among us safe from COVID-19,” Whitmer said at a press conference on Thursday.


Whitmer lifts Michigan’s face mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents

Posted by The Huron Hub | Friday, May 14, 2021

Governor Whitmer today announced the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is updating the “Gatherings and Mask Order” to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on face coverings.

The new order will go into effect on Saturday, May 15.

“For more than a year, we’ve been following the best data and science to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Whitmer. “The vast majority of us have trusted the scientists and experts to keep us safe during the pandemic, and it has worked. With millions of Michiganders fully vaccinated, we can now safely and confidently take the next step to get back to normal. The message is clear: vaccines work to protect you and your loved ones. If you have not yet received your vaccine, now is the time to sign up. This pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges of our lifetimes, but we came together as a state to persevere. We have all been working incredibly hard toward getting back to some sense of normalcy, and today’s news makes all of that work worthwhile.”

On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidance recommending “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” 

“It’s critical that eligible Michigan residents who have not yet been vaccinated schedule their appointments as soon as they can,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and MDHHS chief deputy director for health. “Getting shots in arms is the best way to end the pandemic. If you have not yet been vaccinated, it is important to continue to mask up to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

Under the updated MDHHS Gatherings and Mask Order, Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. While indoors, fully vaccinated Michiganders will no longer need to wear a mask, but residents who are not vaccinated, or have not completed their vaccinations, must continue to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others. After July 1, the broad indoor mask mandate will expire.

“The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and all the hard work that Michiganders have done allows us to take a big step in returning to normal,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “This updated order keeps Michigan in alignment with CDC guidance that is based on the knowledge of health experts. I urge our residents to continue to be respectful of each other as we move forward.”

To date, Michigan has administered 7,875,785 vaccines. According to CDC data, 55.6% of Michiganders ages 16 and older have received at least one dose, with more than 43% percent of Michiganders ages 16 and older being fully vaccinated. The state has also administered the vaccine to 927 Michiganders between the ages of 12 to 15 years old.


CDC says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors, with few exceptions

(Photo/Pexels)


The Huron Hub | Thursday, May 13, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a move to send the country back toward pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.

The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

“We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC.

The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds. The announcement comes as the CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — people who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot.

Walensky announced the new guidance on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing, saying the long-awaited change is thanks to millions of people getting vaccinated — and based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

The easing guidance is likely to open the door to confusion, since there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those fully vaccinated and those who are not.

President Joe Biden was set to highlight the new guidance Thursday afternoon in a speech from the White House.

The new guidance comes as the aggressive U.S. vaccination campaign begins to pay off. U.S. virus cases are at their lowest rate since September, deaths are at their lowest point since last April and the test positivity rate is at the lowest point since the pandemic began.

To date about 154 million Americans, more than 46% of the population, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines and more than 117 million are fully vaccinated. The rate of new vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks, but with the authorization Wednesday of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, a new burst of doses is expected in the coming days.

Just two weeks ago, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors in all settings and outdoors in large crowds.

During a virtual meeting Tuesday on vaccinations with a bipartisan group of governors, Biden appeared to acknowledge that his administration had to do more to model the benefits of vaccination.

“I would like to say that we have fully vaccinated people; we should start acting like it,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, told Biden. “And that’s a big motivation get the unvaccinated to want to to get vaccinated.”

“Good point,” Biden responded. He added, “We’re going to be moving on that in the next little bit.”

Walensky said the evidence from the U.S. and Israel shows the vaccines are as strongly protective in real-world use as they were in earlier studies, and that so far they continue to work even though some worrying mutated versions of the virus are spreading.

The more people continue to get vaccinated, the faster infections will drop — and the harder it will be for the virus to mutate enough to escape vaccines, she stressed, urging everyone 12 and older who’s not yet vaccinated to sign up.

And while some people still get COVID-19 despite vaccination, Walensky said that’s rare and cited evidence that those infections tend to be milder, shorter and harder to spread to others. If someone who’s vaccinated does develop COVID-19 symptoms, they should immediately put their mask back on and get tested, she said.

There are some caveats. Walensky encouraged people who have weak immune systems, such as from organ transplants or cancer treatment, to talk with their doctors before shedding their masks. That’s because of continued uncertainty about whether the vaccines can rev up a weakened immune system as well as they do normal, healthy ones.

Article courtesy of The Associated Press.
View source article here


 

The Waltz Inn restaurant announces closure after 37 years in business

The Waltz Inn has closed its doors for good. Photo by Scott Bolthouse — The Huron Hub


By Scott Bolthouse | THE HURON HUB
Posted Monday, May 10, 2021

A popular local restaurant announced Monday that it is closing its doors for good.

The Waltz Inn, 28080 Waltz Road in Waltz, made a post on Facebook May 10 saying the business will close after being owned and operated by the current owners for 37 years.

The restaurant closed its doors at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after giving some thought to reopening according to their recent social media posts, the business will in fact not reopen.

The business posted to Facebook and thanked the loyal customers who have frequented the restaurant over the years.

Here is their Facebook post:

Whitmer to host afternoon update on coronavirus response


The Huron Hub
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2021
9:00 AM EST

Gov. Whitmer will host a 3 p.m. live streaming update Wednesday on Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Whitmer will be joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The live stream will be broadcast on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


Whitmer to host 10 a.m. press conference on coronavirus response

 


The Huron Hub
Posted Friday, April 9, 2021
9:00 AM EST

Gov. Whitmer will host a 10 a.m live streaming update Friday on Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Whitmer will be joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The live stream will be broadcast on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

First P.1 variant case identified in Bay County; variant associated with increased transmissibility


Posted By The Huron Hub | April 1, 2021

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been notified of a case of the P.1 or “Brazil variant” in a Bay County resident.

The case was reported by commercial lab Quest, and MDHHS was notified March 31.

The Bay County Health Department has been notified and is investigating the individual’s exposure history to attempt to identify the source of the infection.

The county is also confirming appropriate isolation measures, recontacting identified contacts and requiring a full 14-day quarantine period for all close contacts.

“We are concerned about the discovery of another variant in Michigan,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “It is now even more important that Michiganders continue to do what works to slow the spread of the virus by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.”

“This is the second new variant of COVID-19 to be identified in Bay County since last week, and the rise of these new variants definitely impact the progress we have made this year with vaccinations,” said Joel Strasz, public health officer of the Bay County Health Department. The Bay County Health Department has investigated three cases of the B.1.1.7 variant identified since the first case was identified in the county on March 261. No cases of the 1.351 (South African) variant have been identified in Bay County to date.

The P.1 variant was first identified in travelers from Brazil during routine airport screening in Tokyo, Japan in early January. This variant has been associated with increased transmissibility and there are concerns it might affect both vaccine-induced and natural immunity.

As of March 31, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 172 confirmed P.1 cases from 22 states. As of March 31, Michigan has also identified 1,468 cases of B.1.1.7 variant infections in 51 Michigan jurisdictions and seven cases of B.1.135 variant infections in six Michigan jurisdictions.

Based on available evidence, current tests can identify COVID-19 in these cases. The available COVID- 19 vaccines also work against this new variant. Protective actions that prevent the spread of COVID-19 will also prevent the spread of all of the variants that have been identified in Michigan.

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time.

Whole genome sequencing allows scientists to examine the genetic material of pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2. Over the past 10 months, laboratories across Michigan have been submitting samples to the state public health laboratory for surveillance to help monitor the emergence of any variants of concern. MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories prioritizes additional specimens for whole genome sequencing when there is increased concern for a new variant of the virus, such as in people with a travel history to places where the variant is known to be circulating.


Whitmer increases daily vaccination goal to 100,000 shots per day, Michigan increases testing to ‘slow spread of COVID-19’


Posted by The Huron Hub — March 31, 2021

Governor Whitmer raised Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination goal from 50,000 to 100,000 shots per day in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Michigan.

The new goal is based on the state’s efforts to expand equitable and efficient vaccine administration by partnering with private and public organizations in communities across the state, and is made possible by continuous week-over-week increases in the number of vaccines allocated to the state of Michigan, the governor said on Wednesday.

Michigan is also ramping up testing in an effort to “slow the spread of COVID-19,” the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

According to MDHHS, testing plus masks and vaccines are the best tools we have to slow spread of the virus.

Michigan is facing a third surge in cases, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

Michigan reportedly had the nation’s second-highest infection rate over the past two weeks.

“Michigan is making great strides as our rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines continues ramping up,” Whitmer said. “The safe, effective vaccines are one of the best ways to protect you and your family from coronavirus, and they are essential to getting our country back to normal so we can hug our families, get back to work, send our kids to school, and get together again. These new, higher vaccine targets are a testament to what we can do together, and we need to meet them so we can keep rebuilding our economy. Thanks to capable leadership at the national level, heroic efforts by frontline workers who are working around the clock, and the dedication of millions of Michiganders, we will put this pandemic behind us. I urge everyone to continue doing their part with masks, social distancing, and hand washing, and when you are eligible, get your vaccine.”

To help slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is increasing testing and urging Michiganders to continue mitigation practices that help slow the spread of the virus.

“Now is the time for us all to come together and do what’s necessary to end this pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We are making progress in the fight against the virus with more than 4 million doses administered and 2.6 million Michiganders having at least their first dose of the safe and effective COVD-19 vaccine. It is important, now more than ever, that we double down on the things that work: wearing masks, social distancing, getting tested and making plans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The presence of more infectious variants, such as the B 1.1.7 variant, threatens the state’s progress in controlling the pandemic and MDHHS continues to monitor the data closely.

“Our goal is to loosen restrictions while reducing public health risk which is why we move slowly to maintain progress and momentum with thoughtful public health measures,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “We are also increasing testing in key populations to help identify cases more quickly, and help prevent additional spread of the virus.”

As part of the state’s efforts to help fight the virus and keep Michiganders healthy:

-More than 1.4 million antigen tests have been sent to long-term care facilities.
-More than 72,000 free tests have been conducted at neighborhood testing sites in socially vulnerable communities and continue to provide testing. To locate a testing site near you, visit gov/Coronavirustest.
-Over 76,000 students, student-athletes and educators in K-12 schools have been tested in more than 500 school districts.
-Testing for student-athletes begins Friday, April 2. This testing program is vital to ensure school can remain open and students are able to be in the classroom.
-Free post-spring break testing pop up sites are planned for school districts in 34 communities.
-Testing sites at Welcome Centers and Michigan airports are in the works for returning travelers.

As April 5, all Michiganders age 16 and up who were not previously eligible will be eligible to receive a vaccine.

This is based on the anticipated amount of vaccines becoming available to the state and President Biden’s directive that all adults should be eligible by May 1.

As providers are scheduling appointments, they should consider an individual’s risk of exposure due to their employment and their vulnerability to severe disease in determining how to prioritize scheduling appointments. Vaccine providers with the capacity to vaccinate all individuals ages 16 years and older may do so at this time.

It is anticipated that it may still take several weeks beyond April 5 for everyone who wishes to receive a vaccine to have an appointment.

Michiganders are encouraged to be patient as supplies and appointments continue to expand. Those who want the vaccine will be able to get the vaccine.

In next week’s shipment, the Biden Administration will increase the state’s direct allocation by 66,020 doses for a total of 620,040 vaccines, a weekly record high for Michigan.

This allocation includes 147,800 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The state is working hand-in-hand with health care systems, local health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers, primary care providers and others to get Michiganders vaccinated with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Providers have administered more than four million doses in just four months and we praise and appreciate their willingness to serve their communities, and are confident they will meet and exceed the new 100,000 shots per day goal.”