The recent surge in COVID-19 cases throughout Michigan has dampened hopes of a prompt return to normalcy. Schools and universities are once again having to navigate reopening plans for the fall as the state endures significant community spread. Some universities in Metro Detroit, including Oakland University, have announced that they will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated before returning to campus.
Listen: Wayne State University plans for reopening.
M. Roy Wilson is the President of Wayne State University. He says that Michigan was once seen as a leader in managing the racial disparities present in the spread of COVID-19. Now, he says, that progress has dramatically diminished. “Michigan really was a model early on in terms of what can be done … in terms of deaths and racial disparity. … Obviously, the overall situation has really deteriorated … it hasn’t gone back to as bad as early days … but it’s disappointing,” says Wilson on the disparate outcomes of COVID-19.
With the benefit of hindsight, Wilson says while he wouldn’t enact a complete state shutdown at this point, perhaps he wouldn’t have opened the state back up when the governor did. On the criticism Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is facing, Wilson says it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback. “It’s easy to pick one or two things and say this is the cause … overall, I think the governor has done a good job,” says Wilson.
As for Wayne State University, Wilson says he hopes incentives will encourage more students and staff to get vaccinated before the fall. He adds that to open safely, a large majority of the campus must be vaccinated. “We may be heading into a mandate … I don’t want to jump into that, but it’s a possibility for the fall … right now, I’d like to try to do anything possible to not issue a mandate. … I’d like to see about a 90% campus vaccination rate,” says Wilson on a potential vaccine mandate for the fall.