CDC to Michigan: Shut Down Again

Gretchen Whitmer wants more vaccines; federal government has different ideas
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2021 12:03 AM CDT
Michigan Governor, White House Are at a Vaccine Impasse
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer talks about the statewide COVID-19 vaccination effort during a press conference outside the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, which was hosting a vaccination clinic, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Ypsilanti, Mich.   (Lon Horwedel/Detroit News via AP)

Michigan's current coronavirus outbreak is the worst one in the US, and now the state's governor and the White House are in what CNN refers to as a "standoff" (or, if you prefer the New York Times' take, "at loggerheads") over vaccines. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has made multiple requests for more vaccines, all of which federal health authorities have rejected. The governor, a close ally of President Biden's and even a one-time vice presidential contender, even called Biden directly and talked to him for 20-30 minutes about the issue. But health authorities disagree with Whitmer that increased vaccinations are the way to combat the surge. "The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer, and to shut things down," said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Monday.

In the coming weeks, variants including the B117 variant driving Michigan's surge could cause similar surges in other states, another coronavirus adviser to Biden added. "So our ability to vaccinate people quickly in each of those states, rather than taking vaccines and shifting it to playing whack-a-mole, isn't the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out," he said. While Whitmer on Monday did extend current workplace-related restrictions another six months, her advisers have said that due to a state Supreme Court's ruling last October, she lacks the authority to order the state locked down, as she did (quite controversially) early in the pandemic. She did, last week, call for a two-week pause on indoor dining, youth sports, and in-person high school classes, but per the Detroit Free Press, most of the entities involved in those activities appear to be ignoring those recommendations. (Michigan is one of just a few states driving new COVID-19 infections across the US.)

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