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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pushes vaccines, not restrictions in state's fight against COVID-19

Posted at 6:40 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 06:40:18-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is doubling down on not issuing any new restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

On Wednesday, the state reported more than 7,900 new COVID-19 cases and 33 new deaths, but current epidemic orders imposed by state health officials are set to expire on Monday night.

Related: 'It's a variant & compliance problem.' Here's why Whitmer says COVID-19 cases are rising in Michigan

Whitmer is instead pushing for increased vaccinations and continued compliance with state protocols instead of issuing new orders.

Instead of issuing new orders, Whitmer said she's looking to get Michigan back to being the envy of the nation through vaccinations.

"We were quite successful compared to the rest of the country," Whitmer said. "At this point, we are now 14 months in, and people are tired. Every single one of us is tired. I'm tired. Dr. J is tired of this."

Related: Michigan's COVID-19 case rate, hospitalizations surpass fall surge

She set out why she believes the state is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"We are seeing people abandoning the protocols," Whitmer added. "We are seeing more mobility. That's what's happening, and the worst part is we now have the existence of variants here in Michigan that are easier to spread."

Related: Michigan expands monoclonal antibody therapy treatment for COVID-19

Now that people without antibodies are no longer quarantining, she said, we're seeing the spread.

The Whitmer administration issued executive and epidemic orders for the first 11 months of the pandemic, limiting public gatherings and in-person schooling. Now, instead of pushing for more restrictions, she's pushing for vaccinations and compliance of CDC protocols.

"The national experts we consult with have said you don't have a policy problem," Whitmer said. "Michigan still has some of the strongest protocols in place, capacity restrictions. We've got mask mandates other states have dropped all of these things."

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, tweeted his support, saying "I applaud @GovWhitmer for resisting the tremendous pressure to lock our state down and trusting Michiganders to do the right thing."

Republican House Speaker Jason Wentworth echoed that sentiment, also touting vaccines.

Kerry Ebersole, the director of the Protect Michigan Commission, who also serves in an advisory role to Whitmer and the MDHHS, said there's an alternative treatment for COVID-19 patients called monoclonal antibodies.

"Therapeutics is one of the avenues the feds have been supportive of our state and those that have contracted the virus disease and may be hospitalized, are needing specialized treatment. We want to make sure that we have the best resources in this fight,' Ebersole said.

The state said it'll expand the use of monoclonal antibodies, which are doses of lab-made antibodies for fighting coronavirus infections. People at high risk for severe symptoms of hospitalization are the target.