LANSING, Mich. — More than 55% of Michiganders have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday afternoon, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard.
55.02% of residents 16 and older have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine.
It’s the first step in the “MI Vacc to Normal Challenge,” which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced late last month.
According to the plan, the state will lift the requirement for employers to allow remote work “when feasible” 14 days after at least 55% of the state’s residents have receive at least one dose.
SEE MORE: CORONAVIRUS IN WEST MICHIGAN
Whitmer also announced the milestone on Twitter on Monday.
I’m excited to announce that 55% of Michiganders have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a huge milestone in getting #MIVaccToNormal and means that on May 24 we can return to in-person work. If you haven’t yet, please schedule a vaccine appointment today. pic.twitter.com/Q827k3Rhii— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 10, 2021
“I am excited that 55% of Michiganders have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine because it puts us one step closer to getting Vacc to Normal,” Whitmer said. “Everyone is eligible to get their safe, effective shots, and it's on all of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. On May 24, we anticipate allowing a return to in-person work across all sectors, and as more Michiganders get vaccinated, we will continue lifting restrictions to get Vacc to Normal safely.”
Employers must continue to implement mitigation strategies outlined by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), including masking and routine cleaning.
When asked about the new vaccine benchmark hit by the state, Sean Egan, the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director for MIOSHA, provided the following statement.
"MIOSHA is in the process of reviewing both the emergency rules and draft permanent rules as the state meets and exceeds certain vaccination rates. Two weeks after the state exceeds the 55% threshold, MIOSHA anticipates removing the requirement that employers create a “policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.
MIOSHA’s rulemaking is flexible in that the agency has the ability to modify or rescind all or parts of each rule set to best protect Michigan workers as the pandemic moves closer to ending.
COVID-19 Workplace Safety rules, guidance, and resources can found at www.Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplacesafety."
One company reacts:
For more than a year, companies like HR Collaborative have been working from home.
The staffing firm moved into a new office space in downtown Grand Rapids one month before the pandemic began.
"We had been using the new spaces, we were excited about it, and then we had to find new ways of working," said Jon Brickner, thriving workplace architect.
HR Collaborative plans to bring all employees back by July but says some of the companies they work with intend to do so as soon as possible.
Brickner lists pulse surveys, re-configuring spaces, and staggering schedules as ways companies are preparing.
“As restrictions are lifted, we can bring people back in a way that’s comfortable to them," said Brickner. "Really listening to where they’re [employees] at. Acknowledging that, having empathy with that, is a big part of it, and then just being agile; trying different things, seeing how they work, and quickly adapting.”
Earlier this spring, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and other business groups across Michigan petitioned the state to re-open offices.
Rick Baker, the chamber's president, and CEO, called Monday's goal exciting.
“We’re anxious to get people back downtown," said Baker.
Baker and other advocates criticized the remote work policy, saying businesses invest in their workspaces and working from home can sometimes affect productivity and morale. He adds nearby restaurants and shops miss out on the economic opportunity of an employee stopping in.
“Although this is all good news, we’re still a little frustrated this is being put on the back of the business community," said Baker. "To put people's livelihood - business owners' livelihoods - and other peoples' livelihoods.. in the hands of a few that choose not to get vaccinated, I think there's other measurements we could look at as far as positivity rates and hospitalizations."