Washington – The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pushing for stronger restrictions in Michigan to curb an increase in COVID-19 infections, such as a break in an indoor restaurant restaurant or tighter rules around youth sports.

“I want to advocate a number of stronger mitigation strategies, as you know, to reduce community activity, ensure masking, and we are working closely with the state to try to work toward that,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. about Michigan in a Wednesday briefing.

Walensky said that in areas of significant or high societal transfer ̵

1; which includes Michigan – “I urge communities to consider adaptations to meet their unique needs and circumstances,” such as refraining from youth sports that are not outside and cannot be performed at least 6 foot a part.

It was the first time Walensky has publicly suggested that Michigan tighten its COVID controls since state affairs began to increase in recent weeks.

In early March, the Gretchen Whitmer administration eased COVID-19-related restrictions on businesses, nursing homes, and other gatherings, a move the governor described as “good news” for Michigan. The orders, which included a doubling of the capacity limits at restaurants from 25% to 50% and the transfer of the curfew to indoor dining from 1 p.m. 22 to kl. 23, expires on April 19th.

The CDC director’s remarks came when Michigan’s top epidemiologist said Wednesday that the state has the highest number of cases, the highest rates and the highest rates for coronavirus admissions and intensive care units in the country.

Instead of imposing stricter COVID rules, Whitmer told CNN on Tuesday that Michigan could potentially lift most of the remaining COVID-19 business restrictions this summer if the state’s vaccination rate rises.

Michigan’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of individuals older than 16. The rate was nearly 24% until Tuesday.

“If we’s successful and people come in and do their part, we may well be in that position this summer,” Whitmer said.

Michigan’s COVID spike

The state and federal briefings highlighted how Michigan has become the worst-hit state for COVID-19.

The state’s test positivity rate has risen by 348% from six weeks ago, rising from 4.3% on February 19 to 15.6% on Wednesday, Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health, said at a news conference in Lansing. .

Rates have risen by 375% since the low point on 19 February, from 190 per cent. Million to 491 per. Million at the moment, she said. About 5,000 new cases a day are reported in Michigan, where the number in some days exceeds 8,000, Lyon-Callo added.

Michigan added 8,015 cases Wednesday, according to data from the state Department of Health.

Walensky said Wednesday that CDC teams are on the ground in Michigan working to assess outbreaks in crime facilities and facilitate more tests related to youth sports.

Her agency is also doing increased public health monitoring and sequencing to better understand “what’s happening with B.1.1.7” and variants, Walensky said.

She referred to the British variant, which is 50% and 70% more transmissible than the original strain and is now the most common strain in the United States, according to the CDC. There are more than 400 cases in B.1.1.7 in Michigan’s prison system, and the state has a total of 1,817 cases of British variant.

Federal public health officials said there are no plans to increase the supply of COVID vaccines to Michigan as the federal government continues to allocate doses based on population.

However, Wallensky noted that Michigan officials are “increasing” the vaccine supply to areas of the state that are experiencing multiple outbreaks of COVID-19.

“Of course we have the ability to move vaccines around, of course, but we are in close contact – both through the CDC and in direct talks with the governor and her team – about what are the resources that may be most useful at this time,” he said. COVID-19 White House Adviser Andy Slavitt on Michigan.

“And nothing is off the table in these conversations in terms of the kind of support we can offer, and we keep all options open when we stay close.”

Slavitt noted that there is a “menu of things” that his team reviews with states in these kinds of situations, including staff, staff, therapy, and locations.

Asked to comment on Walensky’s remarks, Whitmer’s office said Michigan still has “smart” health policies in place, such as a mask mandate and capacity limits at large gatherings, unlike states like Texas and Florida where the borders were dropped.

“We are still very much in this pandemic, but we have learned an enormous amount about how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy.

“Therefore, every Michigander has a personal responsibility to do their part by wearing a mask, washing hands and maintaining social distance to help us curb the spread of this virus.”

The state is moving forward with plans to increase testing of schools, businesses and nursing homes and expanded testing protocols for all student athletes in addition to expanding the state’s vaccine program in the past two weeks, he noted.

Variant challenge

All three COVID variants of concern are present in Michigan, according to Lyon-Callo. The number of confirmed cases is expected to be lower than the number of actual infections because variants can only be confirmed through genetic sequencing of virus samples.

Of the 12,505 confirmed B.1.1.7 variant cases so far identified in the United States, Michigan has had 1,817 confirmed cases, according to Lyon-Callo.

The United States has found 323 cases with the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa, including seven in Michigan. And of 224 U.S. cases of the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, Michigan has confirmed two.

The state has recently focused on doing more testing. Michigan’s seven-day average state test rate rose from 3,253 tests per year. Million inhabitants per. Day last week for 3,497 tests per. Million inhabitants per. Day this week, Lyon-Callo said.

One area where Michigan has seen outbreaks in recent weeks has been in youth sports, which has contributed to COVID cases among children aged 10 to 19, which have increased in the last five weeks – greater growth than any other age group.

Walensky noted that the CDC’s guidance in this area of ​​youth sports is “fairly clear” in terms of having significant or high transmission.

“These activities should be done outdoors and more than 6 feet apart,” she said, adding that testing should be done at least twice a week if these are sports with a high risk of virus transmission.

An epidemic order issued by Michigan officials last month requires rapid COVID testing for all youth athletes ages 13-19 – rules that apply to middle school kids through high school students as well as private club sports.

Whitmer said Tuesday that officials may need to take further steps to halt transmission through school and club sports.

“We are seeing the spread continue in teenage sports, and honestly it is something we are very concerned about,” she said. “… this may be an area in which we need to do more.”

A group of lawyers last week sued Michigan’s health director for the new COVID-19 roles and protocols for youth sports rules, claiming they are “invalid” and violating rights to due process.

Nationally, the CDC is also tracking an increase in outbreaks in day care, Walensky said Wednesday. Hospitals see more young adults – individuals in their 30s and 40s – hospitalized with “serious illness,” she said.

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.

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