Apr 6, 2021

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 6

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 6
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsMichigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 6

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s April 6, 2021 coronavirus press conference before getting vaccinated. Read the full transcript of her COVID-19 news briefing speech with updates on vaccine distribution here.

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Kerry Ebersole Singh: (01:26)
I’ve gotten the cue to get things started, so good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for this exciting announcement and presentation. And my name is Kerry Ebersole Singh. I am the director of the Protect Michigan Commission. And the Governor Whitmer appointed the commission back in January, and it’s very representative of industries, associations, nonprofits, and a cross section from across the state to help get our state vaccinated. Our new goal is simple, getting at least 100,000 shots in arms a day. And Ford Field and our partnership here with Henry Ford Health System and Meijer have been an important part of getting us there. So as many of you reported yesterday, all Michiganders 16 and up have become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations.

Kerry Ebersole Singh: (02:24)
To highlight that outstanding news, Governor Whitmer and seven Metro Detroit teens will be vaccinated today by Michigan’s chief medical officer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, as well as Dr. Betty Chu from Henry Ford Health System. Dr. Chu is a senior vice president, associate chief clinical officer, and chief quality officer at Henry Ford Health System. And Dr. Chu was performing double duty today, because her son, [Aiden 00:02:56], is also going to be vaccinated today. So it’s very exciting. I know many of us are thinking about our kids as we move forward in this vaccination process. The students that are with us today have volunteered to serve as the Protect Michigan Commission’s ambassadors to help encourage folks to get vaccinated.

Kerry Ebersole Singh: (03:18)
Now, getting vaccinated alone is not the only thing we need to do. We need to make sure that we continue wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing to reduce the spread of this virus. You are going to hear more about these outstanding young people from the very own Detroit Lions radio announcer, Lomas Brown. I do remember watching you play. But first, it is of course my honor to introduce our fierce, our determined, and caring Governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

Governor Whitmer: (03:54)
All right. Thank you, Kerry, and I am so glad to be here with all of you. This is another great moment, our ability to vaccinate more and more Michiganders and protect people’s lives and get back to normal, which is the goal that I know we all share. So today, I am really grateful to be receiving my first dose of one of the three safe, effective vaccines that we can access right here at Ford Field and all across Michigan. There are three vaccines that are safe and effective. Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna. These are miracles of modern science. It’s really a phenomenal thing when you stop to think about it. They’re the most effective way to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and to get our whole world back to some normalcy. So it’s essential that we all get vaccinated so we can get that normalcy, we can hug one another, get back to work, make sure our kids stay in school and able to play sports, and be together again.

Governor Whitmer: (04:56)
More than 165 million doses of effective vaccines have been administered across the United States. One in three eligible Americans have received their first shot, including 75% of seniors. In Michigan, over 4.7 million doses have been administered to almost 3 million Michiganders. There is light at the end of this tunnel, but we are sober about the fact that we are still very much in the tunnel. The only way out is if we work together and everyone does their part, and that means continuing to mask up, washing our hands, social distancing, and crucially, getting vaccinated as soon as you can. As of yesterday, all Michiganders 16 and up are eligible, so I urge you to get your shot at your local pharmacy, a drive-through location, mobile clinic, or one of the many community sites like right here at Ford Field.

Governor Whitmer: (05:52)
And I urge you to take your kids, which I have brought my oldest daughter with me, Sherry, and we are excited about getting this vaccine. Her younger sister got hers two weeks ago, as she has asthma and was eligible a little bit earlier. The vaccine response is a testament to what we can do together. We cannot thank our frontline healthcare workers enough, but we can show them respect and support by taking efforts to make sure that we don’t add to their burden by getting vaccinated ASAP. We owe a debt of gratitude to them and to all who have stayed on the front line throughout this pandemic. So I want to take a moment to speak to our younger Michiganders. I really appreciate all of these young adults who are here today to get their vaccine and to be ambassadors. We know that the Pfizer vaccine, which is manufactured right here in Michigan, is available to Michiganders ages 16 to 18.

Governor Whitmer: (06:49)
And to parents, my fellow parents across the state, I encourage you to bring your high schoolers or college-aged students with you like I did today to get vaccinated, especially if they are in that 16 to 17-year-old range. Because we know what the spread looks like right now, and it’s really crucial that as parents, we not just model, but we help our kids to be safe as well. Right now, students and families traveling across Michigan or to other states or out of the country during spring break, we know that the increased mobility contributes to increased spread, and could fuel some outbreaks as people return back to Michigan. In efforts to make testing easier for travelers, the state is offering 37 pop-up sites located statewide as a part of our special testing program.

Governor Whitmer: (07:40)
COVID-19 continues to be a threat to our families and communities, and that’s why we want to use these pop-up sites to help people get information so that they can stay safe and stay home and get the care that they need, and also to get access those vaccines. So every Michigander has a personal responsibility to do their part. Wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing, and getting that vaccine. The 15-minute post-vaccine waiting areas are some of the most optimistic places in the world. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are administering the vaccines. The tears of joy that people feel, the relief sitting in that 15-minute waiting, which no one likes to wait, but it is a joyful experience from what I’m told, and I’m looking forward to being able to experience it myself today. So please, make your plans to get vaccinated. Make your plans to encourage and support your family members and coworkers and fellow parishioners or neighbors to do the same.

Governor Whitmer: (08:39)
We are truly in this together. Post once you’ve gotten your vaccine, send a happy text. Tell people how easy it was and how relieved you feel about it. So today, I’m happy to add my name to the 4.7 million shots in arms that have happened, and I’m looking forward to it very much. With that, am I handing this over to Dr. J? Yes, okay. Dr. J’s up. I’m so used to handling everything over to Dr. J. Thanks, Dr. J.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (09:12)
Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone. It’s really just a pleasure to be back at Ford Field today, and I of course want to especially thank our partners, including Henry Ford Health System, Meijer, FEMA, and the many others who really are just making this site be a success. So I’m thrilled that as of yesterday, everyone age 16 and up here in the state are eligible to be vaccinated. This truly is the best tool that we have to be able to fight this virus back and to save lives. Already, over 36% of Michiganders have gotten at least one dose of these safe and effective vaccines. Over 68% of people over the age of 65 have gotten at least one dose. Vaccines work. There’s no question that vaccines work. In older ages, especially where we’ve gotten-

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (10:03)
It seems work. In older ages, especially where we’ve gotten more people who have gotten the vaccine, we’ve seen hospitalizations not rise as much as they have in the younger groups. But of course, I’m still concerned that we have to talk about the data and what we’re seeing with cases in the state. So right now there are over 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the state every day, with a seven day average of 491 cases per million people. The percent of tests that are positive is also increasing, it’s now 15.6% up 38% from the previous week. We’re also, unfortunately seeing more variants of concern, which are more easily transmitted from person to person. Our state lab has identified 1,817 variant cases in Michigan in 54 different counties and there are likely many more that we have not yet identified in the state.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (11:03)
We are also at the health department tracking 991 outbreaks in counties all across the state, that includes K through 12 schools, manufacturing, long-term care, childcare settings, retail, and restaurants and bars. And we also know that hospitalizations are also continuing to increase, they’re up from 2,158 the previous week to 3,127 patients now in the hospital, unfortunately fighting this terrible virus. We also know that about half of those people who are hospitalized are actually under the age of 60. And this is really, really important. Younger people can get COVID-19. They can get very sick from COVID-19 or they can pass it on to other people who can get very, very sick. So we are all in this together, no matter your age.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (11:56)
When you get vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself, you’re protecting your family, you’re protecting your entire community. These safe and effective vaccines are really our best chance to protect, not just ourselves and I’m speaking to the youth here, it’s not just about ourselves. It’s about your parents, your aunts, your uncles, your grandparents, your entire community. It’s our chance to be able to have class with our friends and not have to go back to these periodic remote learning styles. It’s our chance to play sports without canceled games or tournaments due to outbreaks. It’s our chance to be able to have traditional proms and graduations and baby showers and other celebrations of life’s milestones again. It’s really our chance to get back to a sense of normalcy.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (12:41)
So today I’m especially asking millennials, generation Z, age 16 and up and their parents, please get on your phone or get on your computer and sign up, make your appointment today. There’s three easy ways to register for an appointment here at Ford Field, you can go to the Meijer website. So www.clinic.meijer.com. You can also text end COVID, E-N-D COVID to 75049. Or you can also call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 hotline and that number is (888) 535-6136 and you can press one. And then finally, you can also go to our state website, michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine to find other vaccine sites in your community.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (13:33)
So until we reach broad immunity and we get as many people as possible vaccinated, at least 16 and up, 70% of people 16 and up, you also have the power to slow the spread of this virus. Wear a mask over your nose and your mouth every time you’re going to be around other people outside of your household, socially distance, avoid gatherings and get tested if you’ve been exposed, especially if you just returned or will soon be returning from a spring break trip. So I’m concerned, but I know that we can absolutely beat this surge back just like we have before in this state, but it’s really going to take all of us. And so thank you. And with that, I’ll turn it back over to Governor Whitmer. I believe we have about five minutes for a few questions before she and the first daughter get their vaccine.

Governor Whitmer: (14:24)
Did you want to say anything? No, I’m just kidding. All right.

Speaker 1: (14:30)
Madam Governor, as much as I have not taken the shot yet, [inaudible 00:14:34], what do we do or say to the people who say I got to [inaudible 00:14:37]. Somebody who took the shot who caught COVID? Maybe I should go to the doctor, but I want you to inspire me first.

Governor Whitmer: (14:45)
Yeah, I think first, let me say this, these vaccines are incredibly safe and incredibly effective. These vaccines are more effective than the flu vaccine that lots of us take every single year without questioning it, 95 plus percent effectiveness. That means that for some, it doesn’t give complete protection, we’re delving into the numbers, but I’m going to hand it over to Dr. Jay. What we do know though, is that this vaccine can save your life. This is a virus that none of us knows how our body’s going to react to it. For so many, it has been fatal or devastating, or for many we’re still learning how long are the impacts of this virus going to impact them, afflict them? So this vaccine still is the best way to protect yourself. I’ll ask Dr. Jay to go in a little bit deeper on your question. Appreciate it though.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (15:47)
The governor is absolutely right. These are some of the best vaccines that we have. You may recall many months ago before we had any vaccine, Dr. Fauci saying, 50, 60, that’s great if we can get a vaccine that’s that effective. We’ve now gotten vaccines that are over 95% effective. And even if you do get COVID-19 and once you’ve had the vaccine, it is highly unlikely that you will be hospitalized or die. And we’ve seen that in our data where we’re still seeing some increases in hospitalizations in people over age 65, but it’s much lower than those who are younger than age 60, where we don’t have as many vaccinations out into those age groups. So it is not a failure at all if someone does get COVID-19 after they’ve had the vaccine, they’re likely going to be not as sick. And they’re also likely going to not pass it to other people who can also get very sick. So these vaccines absolutely are some of the best public health measures that we have, some of the best vaccines that we have.

Speaker 2: (16:42)
Dr. Jay, some states are seeing an increase in cases in younger adults. Are we seeing that here in Michigan as well?

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (16:48)
Absolutely. So we have seen an increase in cases of COVID-19 in younger adults. Initially, so a few weeks ago, it started with a surge in the 10 to 19 year old age group. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing now is it’s 20 to 29, then 30 to 39, then forties. And we’re also still seeing increases in 10 to 19. But again, that over 65 age group, we’re not seeing the increase as much as possible and that is definitely because, as I said earlier, over 68% of people in that age group have gotten at least one dose, which is really, really important. These vaccines really do work.

Speaker 3: (17:21)
Governor, just one more questions.

Speaker 4: (17:21)
One more. One more.

Speaker 3: (17:24)
Governor, with the focus on teens today, we’re traced outbreaks back to sports and athletics. Why not consider any restrictions on those kinds of activities that we’re seeing this incredible spike that we’re experiencing right now?

Governor Whitmer: (17:37)
Well, I mean, you’re right, we are and that’s precisely why we have had some increased testing mandates. We have got increased access now for all athletes, we’re really encouraging athletes to join our quest to get more people vaccinated. And that’s why we’re so glad to be here at Ford Field. And that’s why we’ve enlisted a lot of our partners in athletics to promote the efficacy and the need for getting these vaccines. At this juncture we know what it takes to stay safe. It’s not a policy problem that we have. It is a compliance, it is problem that we have. It is a mobility issue that we’re confronting. It is fatigue that we’re confronting and it’s variants, frankly. And because of all these things, that’s why the vaccine is so important. 95% plus efficacy. Guess what else has 95% plus efficacy? A mask, which is why we have to do both until we get to that plus 70% of our eligible population vaccinated.

Speaker 5: (18:42)
Governor [crosstalk 00:18:43].

Speaker 4: (18:42)
We’re going to continue with the program. We’re going to have time for more questions later.

Speaker 3: (18:51)
Which vaccine Governor?

Governor Whitmer: (18:54)
I think I’m getting the Pfizer vaccine today and as is my daughter.

Speaker 2: (18:57)
And how old is your daughter?

Governor Whitmer: (18:59)
19. Right, honey?

Speaker 4: (19:00)
She goes to Michigan.

Governor Whitmer: (19:02)
She goes to Michigan. Yes.

Speaker 4: (19:04)
Not state.

Governor Whitmer: (19:04)
Not State.

Speaker 4: (19:04)
Okay, just wanted to clarify.

Governor Whitmer: (19:06)
And her younger sister may be going to Michigan as well.

Speaker 6: (19:11)
All right everybody, we’re going to turn it over to Dr. Jay to administer the vaccine.

Speaker 5: (19:48)
[crosstalk 00:19:48].

Speaker 6: (19:48)
Move the chair.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)
[crosstalk 00:21:45]

Speaker 9: (21:45)
You a little scared?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)
Am I scared? No! I got my flu vaccine

Speaker 9: (21:45)
[crosstalk 00:20:46]

Speaker 10: (21:45)
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:20:57].

Doctor: (21:45)
I got to do it. (silence)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)
I’m done. That’s it.

Lomas Brown: (21:45)
How’d it feel?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)
Good. I feel good. I feel relieved, to be honest.

Doctor: (21:45)
All right. There you go.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)
I’m glad we started the process. Thank you doctor.

Doctor: (21:45)
You’re welcome.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)
[crosstalk 00:21:32]

Speaker 7: (21:45)
Is there a reason you did not get the one shot?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)

Speaker 7: (21:45)
Is there a reason you did not get the one shot?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (21:45)
No, no I can’t believe… We’re actually trying to get more J&J vaccines permitted [inaudible 00:21:48]. So, we’re hopeful that we will, because there’s been a lot of demand for it. [inaudible 00:22:04].

Speaker 7: (22:03)
Taking public vaccination and then-

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (22:14)
I would love that to be honest. We’ve got to get politics out of public health, I know it’s been difficult to do. Despite of the science review its really hard too but do you think if we can all keep rolling in the same direction were going to get to our destination a lot quicker and we may not agree on everything but I think we all want that. So we’ve helped getting the word out and pretty confident because its really crucial.

Speaker 8: (22:37)
How does it feel to have your daughter here today and to be here with her?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (22:41)
Its great, I’m just really happy when my younger daughter was able to access the vaccine couple of days ago and to have one and I was a little scared and concerned. I was concerned about Sherry as well and so as soon as I was able to get [inaudible 00:22:56].

Speaker 8: (23:40)
But all right . You guys that’d be great. Thank you. all right. Next up we have.

Lomas Brown: (25:01)
Hello everyone. I’m Lomas Brown, former Detroit Lion. First of all, I’d like to thank my former teammate Herman Moore for coming here and support in this effort to. I’m the color analyst for the Lions Radio Network. I’m proud to have played for the Detroit Lions for 11 of my 18 years. What am I going to do now is I’m going to ask the young kids come on up so you guys could get vaccinated. We’ll do one at a time. Okay. So really, while the kids are getting vaccinated, I just wanted to talk to you guys about why it’s so important for us to continue this effort, to get our young and get really everyone in the state of Michigan vaccinated. Just like some of the teams that I play with, it takes a team effort. We have to keep everyone safe, and this is going to take all of us to do that.

Lomas Brown: (26:07)
I just think it’s just so very important for us to keep doing that in the keep, preaching the message of getting it and getting it out there, how important it is for us to get vaccinated. I have personal experiences. My wife has had a couple of family members that have passed from this dreaded disease and myself, my older daughter and my older granddaughter have had it. So, I seen that firsthand how this could be devastating. Like I said, it’s just so very important that we keep the message out there in front and we keep promoting that the vaccine is good. It’s going to do a lot of good and it may not be for us. It may be for people that are around us, that we want to protect, our older and our vulnerable community. So it’s just so important for us to keep this message going out here, as we know, as rising and our young adults. I’m so proud of these young kids for being able to come in and kind of be ambassadors for us to make sure that they help get the message out there to the younger community. So right now I want to see any questions, any comments?

Speaker 8: (27:38)
How were these teens who are participating selected?

Lomas Brown: (27:38)
Well, that’s a great question. I think these guys are volunteers. Most of them are volunteers and they’re kind of leaders. Once I get a chance and once they get vaccinated, I’ll talk to you about some of the things that they’re involved with in school. So to me, they are leaders. They’re outstanding leaders that want to get that message out there and want to spread the message. It doesn’t hurt either, it doesn’t hurt.

Speaker 8: (28:13)
Are you able to get the shot after having Covid?

Lomas Brown: (28:21)
Are you able to? Yes, you are. I’m fully vaccinated. I got my shot, my second shot on Saturday. So, and you feel kind of empowered. I did. Once I stuck my chest out just little bit farther when I walked by today, but you feel really empowered once you get the shot, especially getting the second shot. So I’m fully vaccinated and happy about it.

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