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Governor Whitmer Visits Kalamazoo

John McNeill

Teens from 12 to 15 now qualify for Pfizer's COVID vaccine. But they won’t be counted towards the state’s benchmarks for reopening the state.

Federal officials are expected to lay out guidelines for inoculating younger teens on Wednesday, May 12. But Governor Gretchen Whitmer said during a stop in Kalamazoo the day before that rolling back pandemic restrictions still depends on the 16-plus standard. She says that’s why the statistics for adolescents will be kept separately, for now.

"We're not going to immediately roll on those numbers because it would artificially slow the progress that we're making, and we want to give people predictability and goals to focus on, and that's why the 'Vacc-to-Normal' plan was so important."

But Whitmer says it's still important for young people to be vaccinated. She says they may not face the same initial risks from COVID-19, but some kids do get very ill, and others can spread the virus.

"There's also a lot we still don't know about this virus. And 'long-haul' is a real issue that a lot of younger people have gotten, and that's why getting vaccinated really is the best thing we can do for people of 12 and up in our population."

Michigan has reached its first benchmark for reopening. Now that 55-percent of its residents are vaccinated, employers can begin bringing back people who have been working from home.

Whitmer says it's good news that younger people will soon be able to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

"Those vaccines that are coming out of Portage will continue to save lives, and we're just excited that this is being expanded to a younger group of our citizenry so we can keep them safe."

Pfizer's plant in Portage is one of three making its corona virus vaccine.

I-94 Portage Road Reconstruction

Governor Whitmer also visited a highway construction site in Kalamazoo County Tuesday. The I-94 interchange at Portage Road is being rebuilt and the freeway is being widened to three lanes from Portage Road to Sprinkle Road. Whitmer says people should keep an eye out for orange cones as road repair season begins.

Credit John McNeill / WMUK
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer inspects the reconstruction of the Portage Road interchange at I-94 in Kalamazoo on May 11, 2021

"Anytime you see that, recognize, number one, you're in a work zone, so let's slow down and pay attention, and keep people safe. And, number two, let's applaud the fact that we are fixing these damn roads and bridges, and making Michigan a more competitive state."

MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa says the new Portage Road interchange will have a design that goes by the nickname "Spooey."

"'Single-point urban interchange,' the same alignment as we have at I-94 and Westnedge Avenue. Folks will remember that we rebuilt that in 2010 to 2012."

Schirripa says the new interchange is designed for tight urban right of ways where there isn’t a lot of room for on- and off-ramps. He says it will be easier to navigate.