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Portage Preps For Biden Visit

Evan Vucci
AP Photo

The mayor of Portage says her city is excited about hosting President Joe Biden on Friday, February 19.

Patricia Randall will be among those greeting Biden at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport before he tours the nearby Pfizer COVID vaccine production facility.

Randall says Biden's visit is a great honor.

"It means that we're a focal point for the country and the world. And, it's all for the right reasons. You sure don't want national acclaim if it's not for anything positive, and I couldn't think of anything that offers more hope to our country than the vaccine production here in Portage, Michigan." Randall says she hopes to have a few words with Biden after he lands to relay questions she's getting from her community.

"Every single day I get people from Portage who still haven't been unable to get the vaccine who are in their 70's. And, the question I always get is, 'If it's produced here, why can't we get it?'"

Health officials say about 20-percent of older residents in Kalamazoo County have had at least one corona virus shot.

Randall also says she'll tell the President how important it is to speed up the vaccination process.

"Our small businesses are really suffering. And, the quicker we can get that vaccine put out there and get that herd immunity, then things can return to normal and we'll have more economic stability for Portage and the region." This is the first presidential visit to the area since former president Barack Obama addressed graduating Kalamazoo Central High School seniors at Western Michigan University's Read Fieldhouse in 2010.

Portage officials say Portage Road near the Pfizer plant will be closed to traffic at times during the president's visit. They say motorists should seek alternate routes and be prepared for detours. Commercial airline flights at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport won't be affected. But private aircraft will be grounded while Biden is in Portage.

UPDATE: The Kalamazoo Air Zoo says it will not be open for public viewing of the arrival and departure of Air Force One because of security and traffic concerns.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.