Whitmer: Outdoor arenas, stadiums can welcome more fans starting Monday

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Starting Monday, outdoor stadiums and arenas can welcome up to 20% of their capacity with proper COVID-19 prevention plans in place, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday.

The revised order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requires stadiums and arenas to:

  • Establish an infection control plan that complies with the protocols included in the MDHHS’s Enhanced Outdoor Stadium and Arena Guidance.
  • Post their prevention plan publicly.
  • Send infection control plans to the local health department and MDHHS at least seven days before scheduled events.
  • Administer a testing program as specified in MDHHS’s Guidance for Athletics for all players.

The updated mandate also increases weekly testing for youth ages 13 to 19 who are participating in sports.

The Detroit Tigers are preparing to allow approximately 8,200 fans into each of their games, with single-game tickets available starting next week.

The new order will remain in effect through April 19, according to the MDHHS.

FRIDAY DATA: 3,730 CONFIRMED CASES

Michigan on Friday reported 3,730 confirmed cases of the virus and 15 related deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 622,151 since the virus was first detected here about a year ago and the total number of deaths to 15,850.

On Wednesday, labs tested 44,526 samples for the virus and 3,250 were positive. That’s a positivity rate of 7.3%. The number of positive tests is not the same as the number of new cases because people may be tested more than once. Additionally, testing numbers are from a single calendar date, while the number of new cases lists the increase since the last time the state compiled the data; these two time frames do not match up precisely.

Kent County confirmed 147 more cases for a total of 50,625. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 666.

Ionia County’s death toll was revised down by one to 71. This has not been uncommon as cases are double-checked and sometimes moved between counties. Ionia County has had 4,256 confirmed cases.

Wayne County, where Detroit is, saw two more deaths for a total of 3,976 and 684 more cases for a total of 100,517. Neighboring Oakland County has had 68,599 total cases (505 more than the previous day) and 1,928 deaths (three more). Macomb County has had 59,197 cases (549 more) and 1,896 deaths (one more).

‘VERY CONCERNING DATA’

Although the daily death rate continues to trend downward, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said Michigan’s case rate has been increasing for the past four weeks, now at 173 coronavirus cases per million people.

The state’s positive testing rate has also risen for the last month, with the seven-day average now at 6.2%, up 177% from mid-February. It is more than twice the 3% that public health officials look for to show community spread is controlled.

“What we are seeing now is very concerning data that shows we’re going in the wrong direction with the key metrics that we’re tracking for COVID-19,” Khaldun said, warning the state could potentially be at another surge.

Hospitalization rates have also increased in the last two weeks, with 4.9% of available in-patient beds used by COVID-19 patients.

As the numbers increase, public health officials are advising people to ramp up mitigation efforts to keep the virus under control until we reach herd immunity via vaccinations.

“Let’s not give up our fight,” Khaldun said.

‘STILL IN THE TUNNEL’

“Last week’s numbers are a reality check that COVID-19 is not yet behind us,” Whitmer said during the Friday morning news conference.” We may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel. The only way out is to move forward and to do it together.”

While vaccination numbers are on the rise, so are the number of variant cases of the virus. Michigan has recorded 756 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant, the second most confirmed cases of any state behind Florida. On Friday, Allegan County health officials announced they had confirmed their first case of the B.1.1.7 variant in a middle-aged person who had not been traveling.

“We also have two cases of the South African B.1351 variant,” Whitmer said. “We can precisely track these variants because we in Michigan are doing more genetic sequencing that just about any state, which helps us better monitor outbreaks of the COVID variants.”

K-12 OUTBREAK INCREASE

Cases have been increasing in all age groups, but Khaldun said people ages 10 to 19 saw the largest uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Many cases are related to outbreaks, which have increased 9% in the last week to 645, Khaldun said. For the first time since the state began tracking outbreaks, outbreak numbers in the K-12 group exceeded those in long-term care facilities. 

That number speaks to the kinds of activities children are engaging in, like sports, Khaldun said. 

“In January and February, local health departments identified 315 outbreaks associated with different sports teams related to clubs, schools and recreational sports,” she said. 

RAMPING UP VACCINATION EFFORTS

For families planning spring break trips, Khaldun said the state is working with schools to inform parents of COVID-19 testing options when they return home.

As of Friday, just over 3.4 million vaccines had been administered statewide, reaching a little more than 27% of the population over the age of 16.

The Mid-Michigan Health Department and Ionia County Health Department, in conjunction with Kroger, are hosting a vaccine clinic at Belding High School on March 31. With the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine being distributed there, health officials are saying it will be a good option for agricultural workers. You can sign up for an appointment online.

Starting March 24, Detroit’s Ford Field will host a mass vaccination effort as part of a federal pilot program.

Whitmer said Thursday the site would administer 6,000 shots daily for eight weeks.

“We’re getting there, Michigan,” Whitmer said of the movement toward “normal” life.

“We’ve come so far, but the battle is not won,” Khaldun said, urging people to follow prevention measures.

Effective Monday, people ages 16 to 49 with certain medical conditions or disabilities will be qualified to get the vaccine, along with residents age 50 and older. All residents age 16 and up will be eligible starting April 5. Whitmer and Khaldun have urged everyone to get registered so they can get their shots when it is their turn.

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