Michigan took another big step forward this week, with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday announcing the state has reached the next step in the Vacc to Normal plan in which capacity limits—as of Tuesday—were lifted for outdoor events and residential gatherings, as reported by The Associated Press.
Additionally, indoor capacity limits will increase to 50%, allowing indoor social gatherings such as weddings and funerals to move closer to normalcy, officials said. Face masks will be required only for individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated indoors.
“Because so many Michiganders did their part and stepped up to get vaccinated, we are able to return to normal more quickly,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Our state is closer and closer to being back to normal. Now, Michiganders may celebrate safely with family and friends, with less worry of getting COVID-19.
“We have all been working hard for this moment for over the past year, and I am thankful for every Michigander who has gotten vaccinated to keep themselves, their family and our communities safe. Thanks to them, we can take these final steps towards a return to the normalcy and build our economy back stronger than ever.”
Whitmer encouraged people who haven’t been vaccinated to make an appointment to get a vaccine.
“This pandemic has been so difficult for so many Michiganders. We’ve made incredible sacrifices for the good of public health and the safety of our friends, family and communities,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a statement. “This vaccine is helping our small businesses reopen their doors. It’s allowing our economy to come back stronger than ever and allows for a sense of normalcy to return for families across our state.
“I hope that this news is an added incentive for those on the fence about getting a vaccine. I will remain focused on encouraging every Michigander to make a vaccine appointment if they haven’t already.”
Our state has come a long way, but we are by no means done with the pandemic. Health officials in Michigan confirmed 445 new COVID-19 cases and 49 deaths from the virus on Saturday. The numbers pushed the state’s total virus cases to 887,719 and deaths to 19,163 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago.
More than 4.5 million Michigan residents have been vaccinated, officials said. However, there are reports that the state may not hit the goal of 70% vaccination rate until August. If our residents don’t continue to proceed with caution, there could be many more deaths and hospitalizations before that goal is met.
By all means, make plans and enjoy the summer weather—but, be smart about it. Until we hit that threshold of 70% or more of the state vaccinated, we must proceed with the understanding that some of our fellow Michiganders are still vulnerable, especially our youth.