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Whitmer: State reopens when 70% vaccinated

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Southgate resident Paula Gravlin shops Thursday at Rusty Petunias Marketplace in Alpena.

ALPENA — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday morning that the state can begin to fully reopen once health officials fully vaccinate 70% of Michiganders 16 and older.

As of Wednesday, about 37% of those Michiganders had been fully vaccinated against coronavirus infection, according to state data. About 44% of Alpena County residents, 50% of Presque Isle County residents, 45% of Alcona County residents, and 43% of Montmorency County residents in that age group had been fully vaccinated, according to state data.

According to Whitmer’s Vacc to Normal plan, two weeks after hitting the 70% target — meaning 5.7 million fully vaccinated Michiganders — Whitmer says her Department of Health and Human Services would lift its limits on gatherings and its requirement that Michiganders wear face masks in public.

Unanticipated circumstances, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant coronavirus variants, could delay reopening.

However, Whitmer on Thursday said her administration would reopen more of the state at several points along the way toward herd immunity, including:

∫ allowing in-person work for all industries two weeks after 55% had been vaccinated,

∫ increasing indoor capacity at stadiums, conference centers, banquet halls, and funeral homes to 25%, increasing indoor capacity at gyms to 50%, and lifting curfews on bars and restaurants two weeks after 60% had been vaccinated,

∫ and, two weeks after 65% had been vaccinated, lifting all indoor capacity limits, though social distancing still would be required.

“The MI Vacc to Normal challenge outlines steps we can take to emerge from this pandemic as we hit our vaccination targets together,” Whitmer said in a statement. “On our path to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders 16 and up, we can take steps to gradually get back to normal while keeping people safe. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to rise to the challenge and be a part of the solution so we can continue our economic recovery and have the summer we all crave.”

For weeks, Michigan has led the nation in worsening coronavirus trends, though those trends have improved.

The interactive graphic below shows the percentage of residents 16 and older in Northeast Michigan counties who had been fully vaccinated. Viewing on mobile? Turn your device horizontally for the best viewing experience. Story continues below graphic.

As of Wednesday, an estimated 1,261 Northeast Michiganders were actively infected and potentially contagious, according to a News analysis of local health department data and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of a recovered COVID-19 patient as someone still living 30 days after getting infected. Local public health agencies no longer report recoveries.

Northeast Michigan public health agencies had reported 203 newly infected Northeast Michiganders in the past week.

“We can end this virus on our terms by following the protocols we are putting forward, encouraging everyone in your life to do the same, and ensuring that everyone eligible to receive a vaccine gets one,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a statement. “What we have been observing across our state is that the thing that moves a person to choose to get vaccinated is hearing from someone they know about why it is so important, why they chose to get vaccinated. That means that every person who has not yet chosen to get vaccinated is one conversation away from making that choice. We can make that happen for them and for all of us. The MI Vacc to Normal challenge is a great reminder that we’re all on one team, working towards ending COVID-19.”

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