CDC Director Rochelle Walensky: Michigan Should ‘Close Things Down’ Amid Coronavirus Surge

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday suggested Michigan “close things down” as part of an effort to curb the state’s rising number of coronavirus cases.

“When you have an acute situation, an extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccines — in fact, we know the vaccine will have a delayed response,” Walensky said in a briefing with reporters. “The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer… to flatten the curve, decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent we have available, to contact trace.”

“If we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we’d be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact,” the official added.

Walensky’s comments come as Michigan’s average daily coronavirus case count has increased approximately sevenfold from its low point in February, while nine of the 10 metropolitan areas with the most new cases per capita recently are in Great Lakes State, according to the New York Times.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) conceded Sunday that she is “seeing a surge “of coronavirus cases despite implementing restrictions on residents to combat the pandemic.

“We are seeing a surge in Michigan despite the fact that we have some of the strongest policies in place, mask mandates, capacity limits, working from home,” Whitmer told CBS’s Face the Nation. “We’ve asked our state for a two-week pause. So despite all of that, we are seeing a surge because of these variants. And that’s precisely why we’re really encouraging them to think about surging vaccines into the state of Michigan. And I’m going to continue to fight for the people of Michigan.”

Whitmer then said that while she understands that the White House has a national distribution plan for vaccines in place, officials should consider making changes to accommodate Michigan’s growing case numbers.

However, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients stated Friday that shipping additional doses to Michigan was not under consideration.

“There are tens of millions of people across the country, in each and every state and county, who have not yet been vaccinated, and the fair and equitable way to distribute the vaccine is based on the adult population by state, tribe, and territory,” Zients said.

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