DETROIT – The White House has postponed President Joe Biden’s planned trip to Michigan, where he is delaying his tour of a Pfizer facility in Portage until Friday, according to sources familiar with the visit.
Bad weather is expected in the Washington, DC area on Thursday. the national weather service issued a winter storm warning predicting 3 to 6 inches of snow.
The visit underscores the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for the state, country and term of Biden: The safe and rapid distribution of effective vaccines means a possible return to normalcy and all of the economic and social implications that it entails.
Here’s what we know about the trip:
What is the purpose of the visit?
While the White House hadn’t released specific details about the event on Wednesday afternoon, the president typically answers some media questions during such visits. It is unclear whether the president will announce new guidelines or plans during the trip.
Biden continues to urge Congress to pass its $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 plan This includes additional funding for vaccinations and US $ 1,400 stimulus checks for those earning below a certain income threshold.
When will Biden be in Portage?
We don’t know for sure. FAA records had indicated that he would visit the facility sometime on Thursday afternoon. The timing of his trip on Friday is unknown. The trip is his second to the Midwest this week after one CNN City Hall in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Why this facility in Michigan?
Pfizer, in collaboration with Germany-based biotechnology company BioNTech, has developed one of the two coronavirus vaccines that are now approved in the US for emergency use. The company makes the vaccine at its Portage facility as well as locations in Chesterfield, Missouri and Andover, Massachusetts.
The southwest Michigan facility, south of Kalamazoo, is the company’s largest manufacturing facility and covers 1,300 acres. This is where the company finishes manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine, fills the vials, and prepares them for shipment.
Pfizer, headquartered in New York, invested more than $ 150 million in capital to advance its COVID-19 vaccination program at the site and hired an additional 400 people for the facility, which focuses on manufacturing, inspecting and packaging coronavirus – Concentrate on vaccines.
Chaz Calitri, the company’s vice president of sterile injection solutions, told Freie Presse in a 2020 interview that the $ 150 million investment was being used to build high-speed vial fill lines at the plant to enable Pfizer to develop the vaccine can mass-produce.
“We’ll get up fast and furious,” said Calitri. “We have in-depth technical knowledge and experience here. This is one of the reasons why Kalamazoo is one of the most important production locations.”
Calitri told USA Today for a story published Feb. 7 that the company is on track to cut the time it takes to make a batch of vaccine in half – from 110 days to 60 days, as production continues to streamline.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28.4 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine have been injected into Americans’ arms since December.
Will Governor Gretchen Whitmer come to see him?
When asked during a press conference on Wednesday, the governor was vague about whether she intended to join the president.
“There aren’t a lot of details that can be officially released about the president’s visit tomorrow, but I’m really glad he’s coming.” Said Whitmer.
“We have a good relationship so I expect we can share this with you when I learn more.”
She said one of the state’s proudest moments last year was watching trucks full of vaccines exit the Pfizer facility.
“The partnership we have forged with the Biden administration is refreshing. I am just glad that the president is prioritizing the introduction of vaccines, buying and distributing vaccines and ramping them up every week since he took office and for the foreseeable future . “Said Whitmer.
Contact Dave Boucher at [email protected] or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @ Dave_Boucher1.