Whitmer: ‘We are nowhere near the end’ of COVID-19 outbreak 

Michigan COVID-19 cases top 10K, sees 400+ deaths

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on COVID-19 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak in Michigan is probably a month away, and hospitals all across the state still do not have the supplies they need to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We know that the apex is probably not until the end of April or the beginning of May,” Whitmer said. “That means we’re a month out from when we think we’ll hit the height of this.”

Michigan posted more than 10,000 cases and 400 deaths Thursday. According to Whitmer, we are “nowhere near the end of COVID-19 in the state of Michigan.”

“We know that we are in for a tough three, four, five, six weeks here in front of us,” she said. “We are far from out of the emergency that we find ourselves in.”

More than 10K cases, 400+ deaths

Michigan has now had 417 people die of COVID-19. There were 337 deaths as of Wednesday, so there were 80 new deaths reported Thursday.

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.

There are now 10,791 positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, as of 3 p.m. Thursday, although state officials believe the actual number of cases is much higher. There were 9,334 cases Wednesday. A total of 1,457 new cases were reported Thursday — a slightly slower pace than the 1,719 new cases that posted Wednesday. 

Sixty-eight of Michigan’s 83 counties have cases and 26 have reported deaths. Southeast Michigan continues to have the majority of cases and deaths.

Detroit, the only city with its own health department, reported 2,858 cases and 101 deaths. For the rest of Wayne County, there are 2,211 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 93 deaths. Oakland County has reported 2,183 cases and 199 deaths and Macomb County reported 1,332 cases and 58 deaths.   

The new state-reported numbers only recently began incorporating data from other commercial and private labs and hospitals around Michigan, which caused an apparent spike in numbers that speaks more to the number of cases just now being publicly reported.

The first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state on March 10. Whitmer declared a state of emergency that day.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are 998,000 confirmed cases worldwide and 51,335 deaths. In the United States, there are 234,642 confirmed cases and 5,607 deaths.

Michigan gets 400 ventilators

Whitmer said that on Tuesday the state received 400 ventilators from the strategic national stockpile and President Donald Trump told Whitmer the state will be receiving more. Additionally, Detroit will be one of the first cities in the country to receive five testing machines and 5,000 testing kits. 

While the state is starting to obtain more personal protection equipment and medical devices, we still are not prepared to handle the rise of cases. 

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said many hospitals on the frontlines are at capacity right now, some hospitals are running low on critical medication and intensive care units are running out of masks and gowns, and, in some cases, reusing them between patients.

Fear and exhaustion in Detroit, state’s COVID-19 ‘epicenter’ 

Khaldun said that without a vaccine or a cure, the best way to get ahead of the virus is by social distancing. 

On Wednesday, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley issued a mandatory curfew that is in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the next 30 days to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 and get people to stay at home.

Whitmer said she has not discussed a statewide curfew yet, but says she anticipates a conversation about it “at some point.” 

Whitmer asks Legislature to stay home

Whitmer declared a state of disaster in Michigan on Wednesday and asked the Legislature to OK a 70-day extension on the state of emergency. 

House GOP spokesperson Gideon D’Assandro said the House will extend the state of emergency once it gets back on April 7, however Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said the governor’s request is “too long.”

Whitmer declares state of disaster over COVID-19, Senate GOP leader opposes 70-day extension

“The circumstances surrounding the outbreak of this virus in Michigan change rapidly and often.  The conditions we are experiencing today will likely be different than those we encounter next week, next month, or in 70 days,” Shirkey said.

That echoed what Michigan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rich Studley said on Twitter Wednesday, complaining, “The current emergency order is broad & restrictive, any expansion is unwarranted and a 70 day extension would be far too longDouble exclamation mark!!”

The House and Senate have not been in session since March 17. However, Whitmer believes next week is too early for the Legislature to return.

State Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) was diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending a roughly 12-hour session of the Michigan House, and state Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) died Sunday after having coronavirus-like symptoms.

The Legislature’s insistence on coming in next week is something I implored them not to do,” Whitmer said. “We’ve already lost a member of the Legislature to suspected COVID-19. A person of the 110 member House has lost their lives already. I think that is very inadvisable for them to congregate and to start meeting.”

When legislators do return, however, Whitmer said she hopes they approve her 70-day extension. 

Robinson’s death renews calls for safer Legislature protocols

“It doesn’t mean it’s embracing a 70-day extension for every other order that I’ve issued,” Whitmer said. “It simply means that we acknowledge that we are going to be in this emergency and we’re going to need to have unique powers during this time to combat COVID-19 and to save lives.”

Whitmer said extensions on state of emergency declarations have been granted in the past for “much less serious times,” including a Macomb County sinkhole and the Flint water crisis.