Vacc to the Future: Whitmer Provides Metrics for Lifting Pandemic-Related Restrictions
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out specific metrics by which the state will eventually lift all pandemic-related restrictions. The loosening of these restrictions will be tied to the percentage of Michigan residents 16 and older who have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
As of April 29, 2021, 48.8 percent of eligible Michigan residents have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The four-step, phased re-opening will proceed at the vaccination thresholds identified in the infographic below:
Of special note to employers, 14 days after 55 percent of eligible Michigan residents have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the state will lift the mandate for employers to require remote work when feasible. At the state's current vaccination pace, Michigan could achieve 55 percent by the end of next week, meaning by late May the remote work requirement could be lifted.
There is one significant caveat to the plan. If new cases remain greater than 250 per 1 million people as a seven-day average in any Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) region at the time of reaching 60 or 65 percent, the restrictions that would otherwise accompany such threshold may remain in effect by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) in that MERC region. Currently, only the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula are below this metric. However, Michigan's case numbers are falling rapidly.
In her address, Governor Whitmer also stated that MDHHS will be releasing a revised Gathering and Face Mask Order that will relax outdoor gathering limits and better align the state's public health rules with recently-released guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.