Despite the federal government's assurances that it wouldn't require individuals to accept the COVID-19 vaccine with the force of law, states, cities and the private sector are finding new ways to "incentivize" vaccination, especially as waning demand is leaving states with growing piles of unwanted COVID-19 jabs - and the Biden Administration with egg on its face.
And while NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was announcing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" (a show which we didn't realize was essential viewing for his 9 million constituents) that he plans to "fully reopen" NYC on July 1, moving to take full credit for the city's return, presumably to spite his archrival, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was detailing a new plan to tie the pace of MIchigan's reopening to vaccination levels.
The "MI Vacc to Normal" plan will begin easing restrictions only after 4.5MM Michiganders (55% of the state's adult population) have received their first dose. That threshold could be reached within the next week and a half, Whitmer said, but residents and business owners will still need to wait an additional two weeks after the threshold is reached for any loosening of restrictions.
"The MI Vacc to Normal challenge outlines steps we can take to emerge from this pandemic as we hit our vaccination targets together," Whitmer said. "On our path to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders 16 and up, we can take steps to gradually get back to normal while keeping people safe. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to rise to the challenge and be a part of the solution so we can continue our economic recovery and have the summer we all crave."
The second step starts two weeks after 4.9MM residents, or 60% of the adult population, receive their first dose. The administration will increase capacity limits on stadiums, gyms and banquet centers and lift the current curfew on bars and restaurants, Detroit News reported.
The third step comes two weeks after 5.3MM residents, or 65% of the adult population, gets their first dose. The administration will lift all indoor capacity requirements and relax restrictions on residential social gatherings. The fourth and final phase will begin two weeks after the 5.7MM-resident threshold, representing 70% of the adult population (roughly the level at which vaccine-induced "herd immunity" is expected to kick in), gets their first dose. Then, the state will lift its restrictions on gatherings and face mask-wearing.
Now that the CDC has decided, after a lengthy delay, that it would no longer "recommend" wearing masks while outdoors, Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned yesterday that the guidance coming from the federal government is becoming increasingly byzantine and difficult for the average citizen to understand and accept.
What's more, what happens once studies on minors and young children clear them to receive the vaccine? Will Whitmer set new restrictions to "incentivize" young people to get their jabs as well? While Whitmer insists that the plan represents "some of the best work" that she and Democratic lawmakers have accomplished during the pandemic, by tying easing of restrictions to vaccination numbers, Whitmer risks leaving unnecessary business-killing restrictions in place longer than they need to be, placing small business owners at an even bigger disadvantage to well-heeled corporations...like Amazon.