GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with several Grand Rapids Public Schools students, received her second and final dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Thursday afternoon. This followed her announcement earlier in the day outlining a new plan to ease safety restrictions that is directly tied to vaccination rates.
Whitmer announced her “MI Vacc to Normal Challenge” plan Thursday morning in a press conference. She was joined by Lt. Gov Garlin Gilchrist, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel for the early announcement.
Following that press conference in the morning, she traveled along with Dr. Khaldun to DeVos Place in Grand Rapids to receive her 2nd Pfizer vaccine dose in front of waiting news cameras.
Watch it here:
“As we keep ramping up our vaccinations, we can also see the light at the end of this tunnel getting brighter,” Whitmer said before receiving her vaccine Thursday afternoon. “We're still in the tunnel, we still have to be smart, we need to encourage our loved ones and neighbors and friends and co-workers to get vaccinated and keep wearing our masks, but, we are getting closer to that normalcy that we all crave.”
In addition to the Governor receiving her final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, she was joined by six Grand Rapids Public Schools students, who were also poked.
The teenagers have volunteered to serve as student ambassadors for the Protect Michigan Commission— meant to encourage other young people to get vaccinated.
“Our goal remains equitably vaccinating 70% of the 8 million Michiganders who are 16 years or older, which is roughly 5.67 million people in our state,” Whitmer said.
She expects to reach Step 1 before the end of May.
In the plan the Governor outlined Thursday morning, being dubbed the “MI Vacc to Normal Challenge”, the easing of health restrictions will now correspond to the percentage of Michigan residents (over the age of 16) who have received their first vaccine dose.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will use four vaccination-based milestones to make decisions about future epidemic order actions.
Two weeks after 55% of Michiganders have received at least their first dose, in-person work will again be allowed for all sectors of business.
Then, two weeks after 60% of Michiganders have gotten at least their first dose, the state will:
- increase indoor capacity at sports stadiums to 25%- increase indoor capacity at conference centers, banquet halls and funeral homes to 25%- increase capacity at exercise facilities and gyms to 50%- lift the curfew on restaurants and bars
At 65% of Michiganders, plus two weeks, the state will:
- lift all indoor capacity limits, requiring only social distancing between parties- further relax limits on residential social gatherings
At 70% of Michiganders, plus two weeks, the state will:
- lift the Gatherings and Face Masks Order such that MDHHS will no longer use broad mitigation measures unless unexpected circumstances arise, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant variants.
Justin Winslow, CEO and President of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said, in part, in response to the Governor’s Thursday announcement, "We applaud the governor for implementing what the MRLA has been requesting for months — a metric driven plan that offers incentives rather than mandates to drive better outcomes and more opportunity for the imperiled hospitality industry.”
Brian Calley, our former Lieutenant Governor under Governor Rick Snyder, now President of the Small Business Association of Michigan, said in part, "For months, small businesses have sought metrics for reopening our economy and the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan does exactly that."
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