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State House Oversight Committee votes to recommend lifting winter sports ban, hears update on COVId-19 vaccine

The House Oversight Committee met with MDHHS Director, discussing a resolution to resume play, and focused on improvements to COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House Oversight Committee voted 6-3 to report House Resolution 23 with recommendation, which calls for a lift on the suspension of winter high school sports. 

"There is very little date available to support the suspension of our youth sports," said State Representative Timothy Beson (R-Bay City), who introduced the resolution, "but we have heard stories and stories about the way it is hurting our kids. Parents are forced to watch their children suffer serious harm while government mandates create chaos in their young lives. They are seeing grades slip, kids suffering from isolation, and far too many signs of depression and other mental health struggles. Our children, and my children, deserve better than this."

State Representative Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township), proposed an amendment releasing all federal COVID-19 funding to schools to safely reopen classrooms and implement testing and other costs incurred by resuming sports, it did not pass. 

RELATED: Report: Gov. Whitmer expected to announce return of contact sports

Families and student-athletes have spoken out the past few weeks urging the Governor to lift the ban on winter high school sports. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is slated to provide an COVID-19 update at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and reports indicate that she will announce the return of contact sports. 

The oversight committee also heard from the new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director, Elizabeth Hertel, about vaccination rollout efforts across the state. 

►Watch the full meeting here.

Strategies for vaccination rollout included getting more people vaccinated, building a robust network of vaccination sites, promote efficiency in vaccine delivery and administration, mobilize personnel to maximize vaccination efforts, and empower people with information to gain confidence to get vaccinated. 

RELATED: MDHHS mobile COVID-19 testing program rolling out in several cities, including Grand Rapids and Muskegon

Hertel said in her presentation, to build up the vaccination sites, the state should be leveraging existing nontraditional spaces like casinos, nail salons, barber shops, and syringe service programs. Also, using ride share programs to address transportation barriers. 

Hertel also spoke to the biggest challenge with administering doses across the state. She said it does have the infrastructure to administer the vaccines in a rapid, efficient fashion. The pressure point is the actual number of vaccines they have to administer. However, she said the MDHHS is working closely with the Biden Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase that number.

"I think the greatest misconception about the effort is that we, the state, has a warehouse where we are keeping vaccines," said Hertel, "In fact, the state never receives any vaccines. The vaccine goes directly from the manufacturer to the provider. We help facilitate the ordering process."

RELATED: "It's frustrating:" Hospitals could vaccinate more people, just don't have enough vaccines

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