@MyKitchenTable: Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Yesterday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said: “I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom…We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge… I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there, but not quite yet."
We all wanted this pandemic over by last Easter. But it’s still with us this Easter. And, if we want a normal 4th of July, we need to stay vigilant and keep doing what we’ve been doing. Wear our masks, wash our hands, and get vaccinated when it’s our turn.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen a concerning uptick in the seven-day average of cases here in Michigan and across the nation. In Michigan, the seven-day positivity rate on coronavirus tests has gone from 7.4% to 10.6% since last week, and 13 counties have a positivity rate over 15%, which you can read more about in MLIVE HERE. In fact, the Detroit News reported that the CDC says Michigan leads all states in COVID cases per population, with 361.5 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. New York City was higher at 366.5 cases per 100,000 people. You can read more HERE. Nationally, we have averaged 65,700 new cases a day over the last week, an increase of 22% compared to the prior week, which you can see in CNN HERE. I’ve talked with our hospitals and health care leaders here in southwest Michigan, and what they are seeing is mostly younger folks who have yet to be vaccinated that are driving the uptick in cases and hospitalizations. This is why vaccinating as many people as we can needs to be our mission as we seek to put this pandemic behind us once and for all.
Coming up on Monday, the state of Michigan is expanding eligibility for the vaccine for everyone 16 and older. MLIVE is reporting that as of today the state has eclipsed 4 million vaccine doses administered, which is encouraging, and you can read more HERE. You can see how many people in your county have been vaccinated HERE.
Yesterday afternoon, we had another teletown hall with thousands of callers here in southwest Michigan about the COVID-19 vaccine. Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten – who has done such an incredible job for our community – joined me for an hour to answer a number of questions folks had about the vaccine, its potential side effects, their eligibility, and put to bed any misinformation about the vaccine. Nicki commended the volunteers, too, who have been helping with vaccinations. If you’d like to volunteer and help out with the vaccine distribution, click HERE.
And last week, I did another teletown hall with Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford and we spoke with thousands of folks across the Kalamazoo region about the same topics. I thought they were really informative calls and folks asked a number of good questions about the vaccines. As of today, those who are 16 years or older who live in Kalamazoo county are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is great news, as the county has already administered 128,649 doses, and at least 37% of folks have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which you can read more about HERE. Appointments are released on Mondays at 7 AM, 12 PM, and 5 PM HERE. If you have questions about the vaccine, please feel free to reach out to our local health departments.
The state announced today that in next week’s vaccine shipment, the Biden Administration will increase the state’s direct allocation by 66,020 doses for a total of 620,040 vaccines, a weekly record high for Michigan. This allocation includes 147,800 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You can read more HERE.
Tomorrow, I’ll be in Portage at Pfizer to thank the heroic team there that helped create the first approved COVID-19 vaccine and celebrate their announcement about expanding their plant. The decision to expand in Portage was made in large part because of the enactment of the tax cuts bill that cut the highest corporate tax rate in the world here in the United States. Last December, the sight of trucks leaving from Pfizer with the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine aboard was cheered by the nation and the entire world. So many folks like me tuned in and watched as boxes were packed and loaded by local heroes in Portage. It had all the excitement and pride of watching a rocket launch. The Pfizer folks deserve all the praise and earned their prominent place in the history books. I’m looking forward to the visit. You can read more at MLVE HERE or in the Detroit News HERE. I’ll be on Michael Patrick Shiels’ radio show tomorrow to talk about the project at Pfizer – tune in!
Last Friday, the Governor and I met with the Berrien County Health Department to talk about the latest vaccine efforts in Berrien. Nearly a third of the county so far has received the vaccine, and they are doing an extraordinary job of the getting shots into arms. We are so grateful for our incredible health care workers. You can read more about our meeting with the BCHD HERE.
After our visit, one of my staffers, Mike, who was eligible to get the vaccine, had an appointment and got his first dose.
March is Restaurant Month in Berrien County – a great time to support all of the local small businesses and restaurants here. Using the website, buylocalberrien.com, you can find a restaurant to dine in safely or order takeout.
Lastly, I talked with WHTC this morning with Gary Stevens. He asked about MI GOP Chairman Ron Weiser’s comments about me, Peter Meijer, the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. You may have seen his comments in the news. You can listen to my full response HERE. But these comments have no place in civil society. Words matter. As Proverbs 12:18 says: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” I’m committed to civility and working in a productive way with anyone to deliver results for southwest Michigan. The only way to go is forward!
One more thing - don’t forget to send in your favorite photos for us to share in the KT – we’d love to feature them. To submit them, click HERE.
All the best,