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CDC director calls on Michigan to 'close things down' amid surge in cases

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyTop CDC official who warned of pandemic disruption will resign CDC director: Vaccinated adolescents can remove masks outdoors at summer camps CDC: COVID-19 cases, deaths projected to drop sharply in mid-July MORE called on Michigan to “close things down” as the state deals with a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

The CDC director addressed the growing spread of COVID-19 in the Wolverine State by saying sending more vaccines to the state won’t solve the problem, as immunizations take two to six weeks to affect coronavirus statistics. 

Michigan has seen cases skyrocket at a higher rate than in other states, rising sevenfold since its lowest point in February with a current seven-day average of 7,377 new cases per day, according to The New York Times. Hospitalizations have reached a seven-day average of 3,570. 

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"When you have an acute situation, an extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccines — in fact we know the vaccine will have a delayed response," she said.

"The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer ... to flatten the curve, decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent we have available, to contact trace,” she said during a White House COVID-19 response team briefing. 

"If we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we'd be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact," she added.

Andy Slavitt, senior White House pandemic adviser, also noted that federal officials do not know where the next outbreak will be, so sending more vaccines to Michigan now could take them away from locations that experience surges in the coming weeks.

The health officials’ comments come as Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerMore than half of Michigan adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose Michigan Senate votes to exempt high school graduations from crowd restrictions White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states MORE (D) reissued her and other state officials’ request for the federal government to send more vaccines to her state amid the rise in cases and hospitalizations. 

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Whitmer had called for more shots to go to the Wolverine State last week, saying that the federal strategy should be “squelching where the hot spots are.”

“I made the case for a surge strategy,” Whitmer said at a briefing on Friday. “At this point, that's not being deployed, but I am not giving up.”

But White House coordinator for the COVID-19 response Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsOvernight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states Pressure builds for Biden to back vaccine patent waivers MORE responded to the requests during Friday’s COVID-19 response team briefing saying the administration will stick with a population-based distribution plan. 

"The fair and equitable way to distribute the vaccine is based on the adult population by state, tribe and territory," he said. "That's how it's been done, and we will continue to do so.” 

Whitmer has so far avoided tightening coronavirus restrictions during the current surge after facing backlash from residents and former President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE last year for strict regulations to avoid viral spread.

--Updated on April 13 at 9:43 a.m.