Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel asks Biden for 50,000 weekly virus vaccine doses

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel is asking President Joe Biden to provide 50,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses there each week.

"As our nation continues to respond to the pandemic, we know that the greatest impact we can collectively have is at the local level. Here in Macomb County, Michigan, we are prepared to support your administration's promise to administer 100 million vaccinations in 100 days," the Democratic official wrote in a letter Friday to Biden.

“We stand ready to be a leader in this ambitious endeavor to protect millions of Americans. Our request is simple: 50,000 doses per week during those 100 days. Our County already has the systems in place with our health care professionals and community partners to achieve this inspiring goal."

In a letter Hackel signed Friday, he called Macomb County "a willing and capable partner" for the Biden administration.

The county receives a limited supply from the state of 5,000 doses a week, officials said in a statement Friday.

That equals about 4% of the population, which is "woefully inadequate," Hackel said in a video message posted Friday on YouTube. Increasing the amount tenfold would allow the county to vaccinate about 40%, he added.

"I think Macomb County will be the standard" in the vaccination efforts, Hackel said. "We can be the lead. ... We stand ready to help the president of the United States make good on that promise of getting 100 million vaccines out in 100 days."

The Macomb County Health Department started vaccinating emergency service workers several weeks ago, officials said Friday. And since the state opened up vaccinations this month to residents over 65, school employees, law enforcement personnel, childcare workers and others, "the county saw a dramatic spike in people seeking appointments," according to the release.

Two weeks ago, Hackel issued a video statement showing there were no vaccines available in the county’s five freezers.

"Unfortunately our potential has been limited by the number of doses we’re getting," he said Friday.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel shows off empty vaccine freezers on Jan. 8, 2021.

Michigan health officials have said the state received requests for 444,306 doses of the vaccine but only received an allocation of 258,100 this week from the federal government: 117,850 first doses and 140,250 second doses.

Meanwhile, among his first actions since being inaugurated, Biden signed 10 executive orders to combat the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, including one broadening the use of the Defense Production Act to expand vaccine production. The 1950 Korean War-era law enables the government to direct the manufacture of critical goods.

A statement from the White House this week summarizing the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness also said the president "has developed a plan for expanding vaccine manufacturing and purchasing COVID-19 vaccine doses for the U.S. population by fully leveraging contract authorities, including the Defense Production Act; deploying onsite support to monitor contract manufacturing operations; and purchasing additional FDA-authorized vaccines to deliver as quickly as possible."

Biden has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up vaccination centers, aiming to have 100 up and running in a month. He’s ordering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin a program to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month. And he’s mobilizing the Public Health Service to deploy to assist localities in vaccinations.

The Associated Press contributed.