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Michigan Emerges as U.S. COVID Epicenter as Gretchen Whitmer Marks 18 Days Without Briefing

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Michigan has emerged as the nation’s coronavirus epicenter, with a surging number of cases and hospitalizations, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer has not held a press conference in 18 days.

At least 10,293 new virus cases were confirmed from Sunday to Monday, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health, as well as 21 COVID-19-related deaths.

The surge in virus cases has also led to an increase in hospitalizations in Michigan. According to data from the state’s department of health, roughly 78 percent of hospital beds in intensive care units are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Michigan has also seen the second-largest number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first discovered in the U.K. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan has reported at least 1,649 cases of this variant, second only to Florida, with 3,191.

This virus strain was designated a “variant of concern” by the CDC and is known for having 50 percent increased transmission and “likely increased severity based on hospitalizations and case fatality rates,” according to the CDC.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer arrives at the Capitol in Lansing on December 14, 2020.
Jeff Kowalsky/Getty

Whitmer held her most recent press conference on March 19, when she notified residents that virus cases in the state were on the rise for the fourth consecutive week.

“Cases have been rising since late February,” Whitmer said. “Thankfully, deaths have remained low.”

On Tuesday, she spoke at the Ford Field stadium, which is being used as a mass vaccination site, and received her COVID-19 vaccine.

In an email to The Liberty Buzz, a spokesperson for Whitmer said, “The governor received her vaccination today and has continued to provide updates, visit vaccination sites, encourage folks to get vaccinated and follow safety precautions.”

During a recent press briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “Cases are increasing nationally, and we are seeing this occur predominately in younger adults.”

Walensky also noted that vaccinating young adults will have a “massive impact” on the transmission of the virus.

In Michigan, more than 2.9 million residents have received a COVID-19 vaccine, which accounts for roughly 36.5 percent of the state’s population.

Michigan recently expanded its vaccine eligibility, and as of Monday, residents 16 or older were permitted to get a shot. Despite the expanded eligibility, young adults in the state account for the largest group of residents yet to receive a vaccine.

According to data from the state’s health department, at least 37,892 residents between 16 and 19 have received at least one dose of a vaccine, which is the lowest number across all age groups.

The Liberty Buzz reached out to the Michigan Department of Health for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

The Liberty Buzz, in partnership with NewsGuard, is dedicated to providing accurate and verifiable vaccine and health information. With NewsGuard’s HealthGuard browser extension, users can verify if a website is a trustworthy source of health information. Visit the The Liberty Buzz VaxFacts website to learn more and to download the HealthGuard browser extension.

This story was updated on April 6 to include a statement from a spokesperson for Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

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