Biden administration officials are encouraging the state of Michigan to shut down again, denying the governor's pleas for more vaccines to manage surging COVID-19 cases.
Coronavirus cases in Michigan are spiking as the state reported the highest rate of new infections of any state in the nation over the weekend.
On Friday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) asked state residents to take a voluntary two-week pause on dining out, meeting in large groups, and sending children to school for in-person learning so that the spread of the virus would be slowed while the state continues to distribute vaccines.
Whitmer has asked the White House to send more vaccines to her state to combat the virus, arguing that vaccine distribution should be a priority in parts of the country with the highest infectious case rate.
But administration officials have repeatedly said additional vaccine doses will not be sent to Michigan as their priority remains distributing the vaccine to parts of the country with the highest adult populations per capita. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a press briefing Monday that the federal government is "not in a place, nor will we be, where we take supply from one state to give them to another."
At a separate briefing, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said that Michigan needs to close businesses and return to lockdown policies enacted last spring to mitigate spread of the coronavirus.
"We know that if vaccines go in arms today, we will not see an effect of those vaccines — depending on the vaccine — for somewhere between two and six weeks. So when you have an acute situation, an extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccines," said Walensky, who added that vaccines have a "delayed" effectiveness.
"The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics. To go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer. and to shut things down. To flatten the curve. To decrease contact with one another," she continued.
On Sunday, Gov. Whitmer told CBS News' "Face the Nation" that new variants of COVID-19 are presenting a challenge for the state as a leading cause of new infections. Even though Michigan continues to enforce a mask mandate and some of the strictest social-distancing requirements for restaurants, retail stores, and other places where people may gather, sickness and hospitalizations are on the rise.
"I think if we try to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work," Walensky said.