Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that a factor in Michigan’s surging COVID-19 cases is fewer people were infected earlier in the pandemic than in other states, and she expressed concern about spring break travel to Florida.
Florida and Michigan have reported the highest and second-highest number of cases of a more contagious variant that was first identified in the U.K. Michigan had the United States’ worst infection rate in the past two weeks.
“Yes, I am concerned” about travel between the states, the governor told reporters while attending the opening of a large-scale vaccination site in Oakland County. “It’s a concern no matter what. That’s why we are really encouraging people to get vaccinated.”
She urged people returning from Florida to work from home and have their kids learn virtually for at least a week. She and health officials later recommended that people get tested after in-state, out-of-state or international travel.
The variant first identified in the U.K. is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists have concluded it is also more deadly.
Whitmer remained averse to tightening restrictions that were loosened in recent months and continued to emphasize vaccines, which have been given to at least 35% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older, including more than 67% of people 65 and up. She said she will get her first shot Tuesday, alongside one of her daughters, a day after eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older.
She said Michigan did well keeping COVID-19 metrics low. She suggested that is a reason — along with variants, pandemic fatigue and increased travel — why there is a third wave.
“Because of that, we’ve got fewer people per capita who have antibodies than a lot of other states do,” she said.
Published with permission of the Associated Press.