State Watch

Bipartisan lawmakers urge Biden to send more vaccines to Michigan amid spike

Kristoffer Tripplaar

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers representing Michigan wrote to President Biden on Thursday urging him to increase the vaccine allocation for the state amid a surge in cases.

“The number of new coronavirus cases in Michigan has risen rapidly in recent weeks, which has placed growing stress on the state’s public health infrastructure,” wrote Reps. Fred Upton (R) and Debbie Dingell (D). “An increase in vaccine allocation to the state will help save lives and effectively deal with this new outbreak.”

The Biden administration, though, has not changed its formula for sending vaccines to Michigan.

Asked about the possibility at a briefing Wednesday, officials did not fully rule out the idea, but pointed to other moves like increasing testing in youth sports, which has helped drive outbreaks, and sending more staff to the state.

“I want to leave you with the impression that there is not one tool, there are a menu of things — including staff, personnel, therapeutics, locations, and other kinds of things — that we review with states in this kind of situation,” White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response Andy Slavitt said when asked about sending more vaccines to Michigan.

Slavitt also said vaccines could be shifted within the state to hard-hit localities.

Like other states, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there is a gap between the vaccine doses delivered to Michigan and the number administered so far.

The state is seeing a troubling spike. Michigan has by far the most cases per capita of any state in the country, and hospitalizations are also accelerating, from a total of around 850 at the beginning of March to more than 2,500 now.

Several prominent experts have called for sending more vaccines to the state.

“We saw how Israel used very aggressive vaccination to crush a surge and we’re not doing it in Michigan,” tweeted Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research.

The Washington Post reported at the end of March that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) had asked the White House for more supply.

Now, members of Congress in both parties are adding to the pressure, and asking for changes to vaccine allocations, which are largely based on a state’s population.

“Currently, federal vaccine allocation is population-based and does not account for the rising COVID-19 case count or public health situation that states like Michigan are facing,” Upton and Dingell wrote. “Surging additional vaccines into Michigan and other hard-hit areas is consistent with guidance from public health experts.”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines Debbie Dingell Fred Upton Gretchen Whitmer Joe Biden Michigan
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