The White House COVID-19 Response Team said Monday more vaccines are not the answer to the surge of cases in the midwestern state of Michigan.
The comments come one day after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer went on the Sunday news program “Face the Nation” and urged the White House to alter its vaccination distribution plan to states – currently based on population – to help the state slow the number of infections.
Michigan currently has one of highest COVID-19 infection rates in the United States, and hospitalizations there are straining the health care system.
But, speaking Tuesday at the regular virtual White House COVID-19 briefing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said it would take two to six weeks to see any effect from the vaccines.
Walensky said the best way to address the situation in Michigan is to “close things down,” the way much of the United States did early in the pandemic one year ago.
Whitmer, a Democrat, has so far urged a suspension of in-person high school classes, youth sports and indoor dining, but has not formally implemented any new restrictions. Last year she came under heavy criticism from Republicans in the state legislature for measures she implemented.
Mask mandates and size limits on outdoor gatherings are still in place, and Whitmer has not ruled out further restrictions.
Senior White House COVID-19 Adviser Andy Slavitt said the government is sending more personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Michigan to get vaccinations delivered faster. It is also sending more diagnostic testing and setting up more testing sites. The government is also prepared by sending more therapeutic treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.