Whitmer on hitting COVID-19 peak: ‘We need to double down on wearing masks and physical distancing’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun give an update on COVID-19 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned on Wednesday that “time is of the essence” when it comes to protection against COVID-19 in Michigan.   

“We are now at our peak when it comes to daily new cases,” Whitmer said at a news conference where she was joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive and DHHS chief deputy director. “This peak is higher — is higher — than we saw in April. We need to take this seriously. We need to double down on wearing masks and physical distancing.”

She pointed out that Michigan is not alone and other states in the region are experiencing an “uptick” in coronavirus cases, like Wisconsin. Health officials there on Wednesday announced a new single-day record-high of 48 new deaths related to COVID-19, increasing the state’s total to 1,681 deaths since the pandemic began.

Michigan cases, Oct. 21, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer office

Meanwhile, in our backyard, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported Wednesday that 150,989 total Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 7,086 have died from the virus — an additional 1,597 cases and 33 deaths since Tuesday.

The state notes one of Tuesday’s additional deaths come from its most recent review of vital records and testing data. This means that individual had already died, but is just now being flagged by the state as official COVID-19 deaths. The DHHS conducts this review process three times per week.

DHHS also reports that an additional 16,883 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 332 probable deaths. The department began tracking probable cases on April 5.

Combining the state’s confirmed positive cases with probable cases brings the total up to 167,872 statewide cases and 7,418 deaths.

Midwest cases, Oct. 21, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer office

The virus has been detected in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. The state’s COVID-19 fatality rate has dropped again slightly to 4.7%.

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

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are more than 41 million confirmed cases worldwide and more than 1.1 million deaths. About one-quarter of those are in the United States, where more than 8.3 million confirmed cases and 221,550 deaths have been recorded.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.