Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said a boost in Covid-19 vaccinations alone isn’t the answer — even as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls on the federal government to send more vaccines her way.
“I think if we try to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact,” Walensky said during a White House briefing on the pandemic. It takes several weeks for immunizations to kick in and reduce the caseload, she noted.
The state’s best bet, Walensky said, “is to really close things down.”
Walensky called on Michigan “to go back to where we were last spring, last summer and to shut things down, to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another” and to ramp up testing and contact tracing efforts. Cases in Michigan have dramatically risen in recent weeks, averaging 7,359 new cases per day over the last week and approaching its pandemic highs set around Thanksgiving, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Deaths are also on the rise.
“Really what we need to do in those situations is shut things down,” Walensky said.
Whitmer, a Democrat in a politically purple state where shutdowns have been especially controversial, has been reluctant to order new restrictions in response to the most recent surge in cases.
Last week, she asked residents in her state to voluntarily limit their activities and urged schools to temporarily halt in-person learning. But she stressed that “to be very clear, these are not orders, mandates or requirements.”
No state is recording more daily infections on a per capita basis than Michigan, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
Much of the current surge stems from a highly infectious variant of Covid, B.1.1.7, which is now the most common strain of the virus in the U.S.
Whitmer on Friday called on President Joe Biden’s administration to flood her state with vaccines, going so far as to urge the government to “create a vaccination surge program to help states like Michigan.” The administration is reportedly willing to rush some resources to the state, but not vaccines.