Washington — Michigan will receive $90.2 million for coronavirus vaccine programs and promotions through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency said Tuesday.
The funding is part of $3 billion for vaccine distribution and access efforts through state and local governments made available through federal COVID-relief packages passed over the last year, according to the CDC.
“We need to ensure that we are reaching those in the communities hit hardest by this pandemic,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “This investment will support state and local health departments and community-based organizations as they work on the frontlines to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake.”
Three-quarters of the funding must be used for programs intended to increase “access, acceptance and uptake” in communities of color and 60% must go to local health departments, community-based organizations and community health centers.
The money could, for example, be used to train volunteers in door-to-door outreach on vaccines, help people sign up for appointments or hire bilingual health workers, the agency said.
CDC representatives did not immediately respond to a request for more details on how the funding could be used, and spokespeople for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services didn’t respond immediately to a request on where the state might focus the funding.
Michigan is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, with the highest positivity rate in recent days since the beginning of the pandemic. Cases are growing in the state faster than anywhere else in the country, and as of Friday, the six metro areas with the worst outbreaks nationwide were in Michigan.
As of Tuesday, St. Clair is the county with the second-highest number of recent cases per resident in the country, according to the New York Times. The first is Chattahoochee County, Georgia.
Public health experts say it’s likely due to a “perfect storm” of business restrictions lifting and vaccine availability, which may be making people feel more comfortable dropping safety measures. As of last Thursday, there have been five variants of COVID-19 confirmed in Michigan.
Vaccinations in Michigan have risen steadily since mid-December, with 1.8 million people fully vaccinated — 22% of the population — according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
As of Tuesday, nearly 702,500 people in the state have been sickened and over 16,200 people have died from the coronavirus.