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Whitmer urges halt of high school classes, youth sports

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Faced with the country’s highest rate of new coronavirus infections, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged a two-week suspension of in-person high school classes, all youth sports and indoor restaurant dining.

She stopped short of ordering restrictions, instead asking for voluntary compliance to slow the spread of COVID-19.

High schools should shift to virtual learning, both school-and non-school youth sports should be paused, people should choose outdoor dining or takeout instead of indoor seating, and they should avoid gathering with friends indoors, she said.

The Democratic governor also renewed her call for the federal government to send additional vaccines. The state health department issued guidance strongly encouraging high schools that remain open for face-to-face instruction to enroll in the state’s rapid coronavirus testing program, which was recently mandated for teen athletes.

As of Thursday, Michigan had the worst rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. over the previous two weeks. Related hospitalizations had more than quadrupled in a month and were 88% of the statewide peak from a year ago, leading some hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries. The seven-day average of new daily deaths has been rising for two weeks.

About 39% of the state’s residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose.

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