Federal officials are advising leaders in Michigan to re-implement lockdown measures instead of sending more COVID-19 vaccine doses to the state as cases surge.
White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response Andy Slavitt said Monday that the Biden administration would not play “whack-a-mole” by re-allocating vaccine doses to hot spots. At the forefront is the state of Michigan, where infections and hospitalizations are surging more than anywhere else in the country.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said it’s too late for Michigan to vaccinate their way out of this new wave. Instead of more vaccines, she said the answer is to re-institute lockdowns.
“In fact, we know that the vaccine will have a delayed response. 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 and to shut things down, to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent that we have available, to contact trace,” she said.
Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said the state will not take that path because the ongoing surge is “not a public policy problem.” Whitmer faced intense scrutiny for lockdown measures she implemented earlier on in the pandemic. There was even a failed plot to kidnap her. (RELATED: Texas COVID Cases, Deaths Plummet After Gov. Abbott Repeals Mask Mandate)
Despite repeated calls by Michigan Gov. Whitmer to surge doses to her state, officials are making clear they don’t plan to. CDC director says the delayed response of vaccines wouldn’t help what’s happening now & Andy Slavitt says playing vaccine whack-a-mole “isn’t the strategy.”
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 12, 2021
Whitmer previously asked President Joe Biden and his team for an increased shipment of vaccine doses, but the request was declined, according to the Detroit Free Press. Slavitt said the surge in Michigan, thought to be driven largely by the B.1.1.7 variant, could be a precursor of things to come elsewhere in the U.S.
“We have to remember the fact that in the next two to six weeks, the variants that we have seen in Michigan, those variants are also present in other states. So our ability to vaccinate people quickly in each of those states rather than taking vaccines and shifting it to playing whack-a-mole isn’t the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out,” he said.
Slavitt added that there are excess vaccine doses already present in Michigan that aren’t being efficiently used. “We’re going to help work with the state, and any state quite frankly, to help in the rebalancing which occurs in a situation like this,” he said.
Over the last 14 days in Michigan, hospitalizations are up 112%, deaths are up 115% and cases are up 60%, according to The New York Times. Almost one-quarter of the state’s residents have been fully vaccinated, and more than one-third have received at least one vaccine does.