Coronavirus Restrictions End In Sight As Vaccination Supply Increases


How close is Washtenaw County in its march towards normalcy in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic? Governor Whitmer announced on Thursday the requirements her administration will follow to get at least 70 percent of the population 16 and older vaccinated before the state fully reopens.

Washtenaw County Health Department spokeswoman Susan Ringler-Cerniglia said that despite the total number of cases in the county going from the hundreds to “50 or 60” cases per day, the worrying thing is that the total number of cases is shifting from older to younger adults.

“The really good news in terms of vaccination is that supplies have finally caught up with demand, especially here locally,” Ringler-Cerniglia told the Sun Times News. “Vaccine is now much easier to get and we’re now seeing appointments available day of or next day.”

Ringler-Cerniglia said that the amount of vaccine available is now so good that in some locations there are even “walk up opportunities” to get vaccinated; although your best bet to get vaccinated is to sign up either through the county health department’s website, or through a pharmacy or medical network. According to the state, almost half of the Mitten state’s citizens 16 and older are at least partially vaccinated.

Washtenaw County is doing its part with its two main vaccination centers in Chelsea and at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center, as well as roaming pop up centers that go to different parts of the county every day.

The county is also organizing one-day “pop up” vaccination sites at various locations around the county. Huron High School will be administering the recently re-cleared Johnson & Johnson vaccine at 555 Towner Street in Ypsilanti, Friday and at Whitmore Lake High School, Saturday, on May 1. The Pfizer vaccine will be administered at the Lincoln Athletic Building in Ypsilanti on May 3, Milan High School’s cafeteria on May 4, the Emanuel United Church of Christ in Manchester on May 6, Saline High School on May 7 and Pierce Lake Elementary School on May 11.

Certain private pharmacies are also administrating doses, a list
of which can be found on the Washtenaw County Health Department’s website.

The number of confirmed cases in Washtenaw County has been dropping like a rock since hitting a peak of 1,257 cases in the week of April 10 to 510 cases in the week ending April 24. The Washtenaw County Health Department reported 46 confirmed cases, one hospitalization and one death just on Thursday. Like the rest of the country, the demographics of who is getting sick is screwing younger as more and more of the elderly population is partially or fully vaccinated and more younger people are gathering more and more in public.

“That’s good news. Unfortunately [the infections going up among younger adults] is a reminder that this virus is highly contagious and it will find people that are vulnerable to the virus as it continues to circulate. It hasn’t gone anywhere and it’s mutated a bit, and perhaps become more contagious. We’ve seen that reflected in this next wave,” Ringler-Cerniglia added.

The more that people get vaccinated and the more hospitalizations and deaths go down, the faster the federal and state government will be able to return public life to normal; as Lansing laid out in its reopening plan, Thursday. Whitmer’s administration is planning to allow “in person work for all sectors of business” two weeks after 55 percent of Michiganders get vaccinated, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Stadiums, conference centers, banquet halls and funeral homes would be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity, gyms would be able to open at 50 percent capacity and the curfews on restaurants and bars would be lifted two weeks after 60 percent of the state’s population is vaccinated.

All indoor capacity limits would be lifted, albeit with “social distancing between parties,” and the state would “relax limits on residential social gatherings” if the state gets to 65 percent capacity.

If 70 percent of Michiganders get vaccinated, then after another two weeks after that landmark date the Whitmer administration says it would lift “gatherings and face masks order such that Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will no longer employ broad mitigation measures unless unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the case of vaccine resistant variants,” the press release said.

The reason why each of these relaxations in the restrictions that Michigan has been living through for over a year would happen half a month after each of these thresholds are met is because of the way the vaccines work. They need that long to build up an immune response in your system in order to effectively ward off the disease, which according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has taken the lives of 571,297 Americans as of April 29.

That is also why health experts have been spending months reminding people that it will still be necessary to wear masks and socially distance even if you have been vaccinated. This is because just because you are vaccinated, doesn’t mean that everyone is and that transmission of the disease is still a possibility.

About 32 million confirmed cases have been recorded in the United States, about one fifth of the 149,216,984 cases confirmed by the World Health Organization, the United Nation’s healthcare body. But the United States has also quickly become the leader in administrating the vaccines to end the disease; with about 237 million shots being administered nationwide, according to the CDC. That is almost a quarter of the 968,452,196 vaccine doses administered worldwide, according to the WHO.

“If residents continue to get their vaccines, wear masks and avoid indoor gatherings, we will soon be able to take further steps to loosen our public health requirements and better be able to enjoy the activities that we all love,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in the Governor’s press release.

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