Questions about science remain as Michigan ends most COVID restrictions

Posted at 1:50 PM, Jun 22, 2021

(WXYZ) — The reopening of our state as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t come without scrutiny over how science is being used and why specific goals have been set aside.

There are questions being asked by everyone from COVID survivors, to health experts, to elected leaders. When it comes to reopening our state are we still following the science? And what happened to the numbers we were given when it came to achieving herd immunity?

“I can’t predict precisely when we’ll get to that 70 percent,” Gov. Whitmer said about COVID-19 vaccination distribution.

It was the percentage of people in Michigan receiving their first dose of vaccinations. Whitmer repeatedly pointed to it as a symbol of when our state could safely reopen.

Her message about following the science came at a time when millions were looking for leadership, including Detroiter DeJuan Brown who spent three months hospitalized with COVID.

“Why are we still opening up so early, when we still haven’t met the numbers we are trying to accomplish?” he asks now.

In Michigan, data from the state shows just more than 60% of people have received their first dose, just more than 50% fully vaccinated.

In Detroit, the first dose percentage is just more than 37%, with only 30% fully vaccinated.

For Brown, COVID remains a very real danger he hasn’t forgotten.

“You try to breathe and can’t. (It's the) scariest thing I went through," he said. "Have we got an answer to how the science changed? I don’t think so."

Across the state, the governor is responding but stopping short of speaking to her promise of reaching 70%.

“Our case rates plummeted, hospitalizations plummeted. Mortality rates. Cases have just plummeted,” she said. Seconds later she was gone.

Back in metro Detroit, Beaumont Health infectious disease expert Dr. Matthew Sims also calling out the striking change in direction and concerns that remain.

“You’re hearing two different things,” he says.

He adds while rates have dropped the newest variant brings increased danger we can’t fully understand.

“The circulating virus is low," Dr. Sims said. "The Delta variant is still a big concern because it spreads faster and makes people sicker."

In Macomb County, Executive Mark Hackel says he’s also been left with unanswered questions that continue to this day. Among them is why change what science is used and why set goals that have proved to be unrealistic.

“Guess that’s the question. When you say follow the science, we know data and numbers, but never really got a lot of answers when you ask for a deep dive into the science,” Hackel says.

The science that’s left a number of questions on the minds of Detroiters like DeJuan.

“No. I don’t feel it’s over,” he says.

7 Action News requested a sit-down interview with the governor but were told she was not available. She’s promised to talk with us later this week.