LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on Michiganders to voluntarily take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during an update Friday morning on the state's pandemic response.
She was joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Whitmer asked high schools to go remote, athletics to be suspended and residents to avoid dining in at bars and restaurants for the next two weeks.
The news conference comes as Michigan sees a massive surge in coronavirus cases, having the highest case rate in the nation.
At the same time, vaccinations have also seen a significant increase in recent weeks, and state officials have previously said their focus during this surge will be on vaccinating at least 70 percent of Michiganders 16 or older, rather than on re-implementing stricter restrictions on activities.
Whitmer said the rise in cases is not a policy issue, but caused by lack of compliance and rise in variants and mobility.
Watch the news conference here:
Khaldun says she's concerned about the rise in cases and the COVID-19 test positivity rate, which has now increased to 18% -- four times where the state was in the middle of February.
There's general community spread of the virus, including of the variants.
The state has seen 58 new outbreaks just in restaurant and retail settings over the past week.
Hospitals and contact tracing teams are overwhelmed, Khaldun said.
Several hospitals are nearing capacity, and contact tracers cannot investigate every case because of the sheer number of them.
Spectrum Health's number of COVID-19 patients has doubled over the past two weeks and continues to climb every day.
"This is serious," Khaldun said. "We are all connected, and we're in this together."
"Just because something is open doesn't mean it is safe or you should do it," Khaldun added.
Michigan has now administered 5.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, up from about 4 million doses two weeks ago.
3 million Michiganders have at least one dose.
However, Whitmer says vaccinations need to ramp up even more during the surge in cases, especially with more contagious variants spreading.
"Anyone who looks at a covid map knows Michigan is unquestionably a national hotspot right now," Whitmer said.
The governor called on the federal government to surge vaccines to states experiencing the worst outbreaks.