State health officials urge primary care doctors to become vaccine providers

MARQUETTE — Michigan health officials on Wednesday urged primary care doctors to become COVID-19 vaccine providers.

In a Wednesday news conference, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said officials want to ensure broad access to vaccines in “trusted places” such as offices of individual doctors, pediatricians and family physicians; school clinics; federally qualified health centers; and pharmacies.

“I’m asking every primary care doctor to enroll as a vaccine provider,” Khaldun said. “The most important thing we can do right now is to make vaccines available for whenever someone is ready. We know that patients trust their doctors, and when they’re ready to get vaccinated, we want you to have vaccines on hand.”

She suggested primary care doctors work with their local health departments to keep smaller vaccine quantities on hand.

For people who don’t have primary care doctors, Khaldun said health officials still focus on neighborhood, mobile and homebound vaccination strategies to bring vaccines to people “where they are.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also praised Michigan reaching the first milestone of the MI Vacc to Normal challenge on Monday, with at least 55% of residents 16 and over receiving at least one vaccine dose.

“Our goal remains equitably vaccinating 70% of the 8 million Michiganders age 16 and up, which is around 5.7 million people,” Whitmer said.

Two weeks after the first MI Vacc to Normal milestone is hit, all workplaces will be allowed to return for in-person work, she said.

Whitmer anticipated that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration will take action allowing offices to allow in-person work on May 24.

As of Wednesday, Michigan has administered nearly 7.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccinations, Whitmer said.

Noting the importance of teens getting vaccinated, Whitmer encourages parents to talk with their family doctors.

“As the number of Michiganders getting vaccinated increases, our COVID numbers decrease,” she said.

Whitmer pointed out that nearly two weeks into this month, Michigan has “bent the curve.”

“Cases are down more than 60% and hospitalizations have fallen over 30% since our mid-April peak,” she said. “Tragically, we’ve lost over 18,000 Michiganders to this virus, and we can’t forget that.”

She encourages residents to continue to wear face masks indoors, opt to be outside whenever possible and get vaccinated.

Dr. Srikar Reddy, president-elect of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, said the focus should shift to vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, particularly since summer activities are on the horizon.

“Despite teens not being a high-risk population, the aim of vaccinating them is to control this highly contagious virus and prevent new variants from emerging,” Reddy said.

MDOT releases video

Employees at the Michigan Department of Transportation cited many reasons, such as being able to hug their grandchildren, for getting their COVID-19 vaccine in a public service announcement released on Wednesday.

The employee testimonials support a statewide effort to increase the state’s vaccination rate to 70% of people 16 and older.

“These employees are honoring that commitment by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do the same,” said Jeff Cranson, MDOT director of communications, in a news release. “Sharing their motivation for being vaccinated is a testament to their sense of public service and concern for others.”

The video is available on YouTube.

Cedar Motor Inn responds to MIOSHA citations

The Cedar Motor Inn provided a statement to The Mining Journal Wednesday morning after receiving a COVID-19 citation from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration last month.

The longstanding Marquette Township motel, under new ownership as of this year, received a fine of $500 from MIOSHA and was found to be in violation of three sections of the administration’s COVID-19 Emergency Rules, including:

≤ 7-3: The employer shall keep everyone on the worksite premises at least 6 feet from one another to the maximum extent possible and to reduce congestion; including using ground markings, signs and physical barriers as appropriate to the worksite.

≤ 6-1: The employer shall conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with, if possible, a temperature screening.

≤ 10-1: The employer shall provide training to all employees on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

After a MIOSHA inspection on March 17, the motel was deemed in violation of these three rules for not installing plexiglass barriers at the guest check-in desk, not establishing a daily entry self-screening protocol, and had not trained employees on workplace infection control procedures such as conducting a daily entry self-screening to help prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2, according to the citation.

The $500 fine was issued for violating rule 7-3.

Cedar Motor Inn general manager Johnathon Naracon, along with the motel’s ownership and management team, provided the following statement regarding the citation:

“We are hopeful for the future of all our local small businesses as they navigate through a very difficult time. We respect and appreciate the opportunity to work with our local officials to ensure the health and well being of all of our staff and employees. We are honored to have the opportunity to continue improving and look forward to the future as we move past the trials of this past year.”

MIOSHA has cited 280 Michigan businesses to date, according to its online citation dashboard. Its COVID-19 Emergency Rules are currently in effect until Oct. 14.


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