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

Posted at 7:16 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 07:16:38-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer outlined several reasons she said COVID-19 cases are surging in Michigan, blaming the variants and a lack of compliance by residents more than a year after the pandemic first began.

The state ranks among the worst in the country for cases of COVID-19 per capita, and the case rate of 574 cases per million people is higher than it was when we had a massive surge in the fall.

According to Whitmer, her team is talking often and also talking with national health experts about why the state is seeing such a rise in cases.

Part of the problem, according to Whitmer, is how well the state handled the pandemic at the beginning.

"We were very successful for a long period of time pushing COVID-19 rates down in Michigan. We were the envy of most other states," Whitmer said. "We didn't know a lot about this virus a year ago, so we took action and we were quite successful compared to the rest of the country."

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

According to Whitmer, keeping people safe for so long means that there are now a lot of people who don't have antibodies. When you combine that with more contagious variants spreading throughout the state and people abandoning protocols, the cases are going up.

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

"At this point, we are 14 months in and people are tired. I'm tired of this, Dr. J. is tired of this. We are seeing people abandon the protocols, we are seeing more mobility, and the worst part, we have the variants," Whitmer said.

Whitmer was asked why she isn't instituting more restrictions, and she said Michigan still has some of the tightest protocols in the country with capacity caps and mask mandates, yet a nearly 18% positivity rate.

"We have reservoirs of people who didn’t get COVID but are now vulnerable to these variants, and we have exhaustion," she said. "It's not a policy problem. It's a variant and compliance problem."