Today, Gov. Whitmer took to Twitter to announce a new vaccine initiative to get the state of Michigan vaccinated. She is calling it the “Vacc to Normal” challenge.
The tweet read:
““Today, I announced the #MIVaccToNormalChallenge, a pathway to gradually get back to normal as we hit our vaccination targets and push toward our goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older. Please, sign up for your vaccine appointment today. Let’s get it done.”
The challenge set forth four tiers that would unlock different things as more people get vaccinated.
Step 1 would occur when the state reaches a 55% vaccination rate (Michigan currently has 48.8% of adults vaccinated). When this tier is reached the work remote rule will be lifted.
Next, Step 2 happens when the state reaches 60% vaccination rate. In this tier restaurants and bars would no longer have a curfew. Gyms’ capacities would be raised to 50%. In addition, sports stadiums and conference centers would have a 25% capacity limit.
Step 3 would take place when the state reaches a 65% capacity. This tier would see no more limits on residential gatherings as well as lifting the capacity limit on indoor facilities, with only social distancing required.
Step 4 occurs at 70% and this would see the Gatherings and Face Mask order lifted with only partial enforcement required. There is a caveat. The mask rule would go back into effect should another variant emerge and threaten the healthcare system.
The governor explained that if certain parts of the state have too many new cases then their openings would be delayed, “For the second and third steps, Whitmer said the state health department may delay implementation in a certain region of the state if its seven-day average of new cases is greater than 250 a day per million residents.”
The reactions to the new order were mixed. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey was critical, telling The Detroit News, “"it took 400 days too long for the governor to be straightforward about how she will navigate this disease."
It should be noted it was Mike Shirkey and his cohorts who stripped the governor of her emergency powers last Summer and tied her hands on how she could act.
However, the Small Business Association was happy about the announcement saying “"For months, small businesses have sought metrics for reopening our economy and the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan does exactly that," association President Brian Calley said. “Widespread vaccinations are the way out of this pandemic, and we urge Michiganders who have not gotten a vaccine yet to do so.”
This marks a shift in Whitmer’s policy as she was previously hesitant to tie reopening with certain metrics. She argued that "For 11 out of the last 15 months we didn't have vaccines, and so we couldn't tie something to a metric that really is the best tool that we have to get back to normal."
Whitmer faces a challenge as vaccine demand has been waning in the last few days the Detroit Free Press reports, “While data shows Michiganders flocked to vaccination sites immediately after everyone became eligible on April 5, more recent trends warn of decreased demand. On April 1, the state's seven-day average was more than 96,000 first and second doses daily. By Monday, that had dropped by more than 22% to less than 75,000 doses a day.”
Hopefully this new challenge can inspire some more people to get their vaccinations.