CDC director says answer to Michigan's COVID surge is to 'close things down'

Posted at 1:11 PM, Apr 12, 2021

(WXYZ & ASSOCIATED PRESS) — Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House COVID response team press briefing Monday that the answer to Michigan's case surge is not necessarily to deploy more vaccinations to the state, but rather to flatten the curve by shutting things down.

"If vaccines go in arms today, we will not see an effect of those vaccines … for somewhere between two to six weeks. When you have an acute situation, extraordinary number of cases, like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccine, in fact, we know that the vaccine will have a delayed response," she said Monday. "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, to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent that we have available, to contact trace … really what we need to do in those situations is shut things down."

She added, “I think if we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work to actually have the impact.”

Washington, instead, will rush federal resources to support vaccinations, testing and treatments to Michigan in an effort to control the state’s worst-in-the-nation COVID-19 outbreak.

Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strongly recommended, but did not order, a two-week pause on face-to-face high school instruction, indoor restaurant dining and youth sports. She cited more contagious coronavirus variants and pandemic fatigue as factors in the surge, which has led some hospitals to postpone non-emergency procedures.

Statewide hospitalizations have quadrupled in a month and are nearing peak levels from last spring and fall.

“Policy alone won’t change the tide. We need everyone to step up and to take personal responsibility,” Whitmer said Friday, while not ruling out future restrictions. Michigan’s seven-day case rate was 506 per 100,000 people, well above second-worst New Jersey, with 314 per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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