3 Michigan coronavirus deaths reported, all in metro Detroit

Gov. OKs childcare service expansion, DNR shooting ranges close

Al Bello/Getty Images

Three people in Michigan have died due to COVID-19. 

The first death reported was a man in his 50s at a Beaumont Hospital in Wayne County. McLaren Oakland Hospital also reported a death on Wednesday, a woman in her 50s. An 81-year-old patient died on Wednesday at Henry Ford Hospital. 

A statewide coronavirus hotline is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136. Information can be found on the DHHS website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state officials said a press conference Wednesday that Michigan has “well above 100 cases” of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus. New numbers coming from counties and hospitals underscore what health officials have been warning: The actual number of cases is significantly higher.

As of Thursday, Henry Ford Health System alone has identified more than two dozen positive cases in the system and expects that number to rise now that additional testing is available. Oakland County confirmed it has 94 cases, as of 9 a.m., Associated Press reporter Dave Eggert reports.

For more than a week, Whitmer has signed a slew of COVID-19-related executive orders. Several state agencies are fighting against COVID-19 contamination by reducing human contact, supporting businesses as they temporarily close and providing childcare to those workers who are needed most by the public right now.

Whitmer: ‘Well above 100’ COVID-19 cases in state

Here’s a roundup of more state action to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Childcare expanded

Whitmer signed an order Wednesday evening to expand child care services for health care workers and first responders. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is set to issue provisional licenses to child care in health care facilities to provide childcare for their employees.

These disaster relief childcare centers must perform a health evaluation on individuals who enter the facility to limit spread of the virus.

Tax assistance

Small businesses scheduled to make their monthly sales, use and withholding tax payments on March 20 can postpone until April 20, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. All penalties and interest will be waived during the 30 days.

Whitmer said in a press release that this action is necessary to give those businesses the support they need to come out the other side. 

Unemployed need to file online for benefits during outbreak. Here’s how.

“I will continue doing everything I can to ensure our small businesses have the support they need during this time,” Whitmer said in the press release. “We will get through this together.”

In addition, TechTown is launching the Detroit Small Business Stabilization Fund to support those impacted by COVID-19. TechTown — in partnership with the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), and Invest Detroit — will administer working capital grants in amounts of up to $5,000 to qualifying small businesses.

“We all know what very real threat lies ahead for our local neighborhood businesses as in-person customer traffic vanishes,” said TechTown CEO Ned Staebler. “Grants of up to $5,000 will provide a critical life-line for a business community just starting to see real gains following the great recession. This support for operational costs like payroll can prevent the loss of a family’s livelihood.”

Price gouging

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office received 572 price-gouging complaints as of 11 p.m. Tuesday as some businesses jack up prices of sought after items such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper. She filed her first action Wednesday against an individual selling face masks at a higher price on Ebay.

The Consumer Protection Hotline hours were extended to 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, while normal hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours have now been extended to noon to 5 p.m. during the weekend.

Nessel fights price gouging on the ‘worst St. Patrick’s Day ever’

Businesses found to be price gouging could face legal repercussions including paying damages to consumers and civil penalties of up to $25,000 if they do not cease and desist. An executive order from Whitmer now makes certain price gouging acts misdemeanors, compounding legal repercussions.

Michigan residents are urged to report any violation of the Consumer Protection Act online as these reports are processed the quickest, according to officials of the Attorney General’s Office or by calling 877-765-8388. 

Trial courts

All trial courts in Michigan, as of Wednesday,  are ordered to limit courtroom attendance to no more than 10 people and to limit court activity to “essential functions,” by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Essential functions include arrangements for in-custody individuals, activity for requests for search warrants and personal protection orders, some child protective proceedings and child support and custody cases.

“All trial courts must take immediate action to protect the public and court personnel by limiting activity only to essential functions,” Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said in a press release. “The Supreme Court speaks with one, decisive voice: Courts must respond so that the policy is uniform all across Michigan.”

Big 3 automakers closing plants to halt spread of coronavirus

Michigan follows several other state supreme courts to limit the amount of people in court, including, Ohio, New York, North Carolina and more.

The Judiciary Response to COVID-19 page has more information on temporary changes to Michigan courts.

Shooting ranges

All shooting ranges are closed and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is limiting general public walk-in traffic to facilities and offices across the state. Licenses, permits and camping registration are available online. Some DNR offices will operate by appointment only.

The Archives of Michigan is closed to walk-in traffic, but individuals can still receive services over the phone and through email. The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Visitor Center and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary offices have shut their doors to the public along with other state museums.