The coronavirus vaccines are here and with it the beginning of the end of the pandemic—but you might not know that looking at cases in a hot spot like Michigan, where the state’s public health system is overwhelmed and the governor has asked—though not demanded—that residents pause avoid in-person dining and school sports. To address this and other hot spots in America, Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner and board member for Pfizer, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan appeared on Face the Nation this morning. Read on for the 6 big takeaways about COVID hot spots—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
“What is driving the spike and infections in your state?” host Margaret Brennan asked Gov. Whitmer. “Well, a number of things, Margaret,” she answered. “Number one, we kept our spread low for a long period of time. So we’ve got reservoirs of people that don’t have antibodies. We have variants, a big presence of variants here in Michigan that are easier to catch and people are tired and they’re moving around more.” These are “the combination of things that is contributing to what we’re seen as a large amount of community spread in Michigan right now.” Keep reading to see what other hot spots might arise.
Gottlieb feels “we need to think about putting those resources”—like more vaccines and more people to administer them—”into hotspots,” like Michigan. “It’s been sort of a Hunger Games for vaccines amongst states. We need to think differently about this pandemic. If you look at all the planning for past pandemics, the flu planning that we’ve done in the past, even planning for bio-terrorism isn’t so always contemplate searching resources into hot spots. It never perceived that there was going to be a confluent national epidemic, but there were going to be localized outbreaks that in fact is likely what we’re going to see going forward. So we need to get in the habit of trying to search resources into those hot spots, to put out those fires and spread. It’s not just Michigan right now, the same time, Great Lakes Region.”
Cases in Michigan are “mainly starting to come down, they may be reaching a turning point. A lot of the cases are in younger people, people who haven’t been eligible for vaccination. If you look at the cases about 15% increase in cases for those under the age of 18, a 50% increase of people between the age of 20 and 29 to 30% increase for people between the ages of 30 and 39. So they’re occurring in groups that haven’t been vaccinated.”
“We are seeing a surge in Michigan, despite the fact that we have some of the strongest policies in place—mask mandates, capacity limits, working from home,” said Whitmer. “We’ve asked our state for a two week pause. So despite all of that, we are seeing a surge because of these variants. And that’s precisely why we’re really encouraging them to think about surging vaccines under the state of Michigan.” She praised the White House for their consistency but said an “adjustment” should be made.
Extra-curricular sports are being blamed for the spread of the disease. Shouldn’t they be shut down? “What we’ve seen consistently through this whole pandemic is that the risk and the schools correlate with the risk and community. So if you’re in a community that has relatively low prevalence and that’s a lot of parts of the country right now, things are starting to look better across a lot of parts of the country. The risk in the schools is lower,” said Gottlieb. “If you’re in a community that has a high prevalence, like the Metro Detroit region, the risk in the schools is higher.” He recommended those schools take a “pause.”
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.