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Whitmer: “Difficult” Winter Ahead Before Vaccine Is Ready

Michigan Executive Office of the Governor
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer provides an update on the state's response to COVID-19 in Lansing, Mich. Thursday, December 3, 2020.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that Michigan should brace for a difficult December and January after Thanksgiving gatherings likely exposed more people to COVID-19.

Whitmer also said decisions made now by people to attend holiday gatherings could lead to a rash of infections as people grow weary of restrictions, and people gain confidence because it appears vaccines could become available early next year.

“You add all those things together, and that’s why they’re telling us that the next weeks are going to be very difficult, December and January because of the lag of this type of a virus,” she said during a news conference. “And, so that’s really, I think, the bigger picture.”

Whitmer said she’s still watching data on infection rates and hospitalizations before deciding her next move.

Whitmer said the good news is several vaccines are well into testing and development. But it will probably be months before the vaccine becomes widely available.

The governor said a more immediate concern is controlling new infections – and she’s afraid infections could spike in December and January before a vaccine becomes widely available.

“It’s a reality that we will all benefit from in the coming months, but right now it’s a really dangerous moment.”

Whitmer said there’s no decision yet from the state Department of Health and Human Services on whether to continue the “pause’ on indoor restaurant dining and in-person high school and college classes. It’s set to expire Tuesday.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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