Whitmer urges vigilance during the ‘worst week of COVID we’ve ever had’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives a COVID-19 update, Aug. 25, 2020 | Whitmer office photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday urged Michigan residents to follow emergency rules as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase rapidly and the state experiences the “worst week of COVID we’ve ever had.” Whitmer also warned residents to not have Thanksgiving celebrations with people outside of their households.

“The second wave of COVID-19 is hitting us, and it’s hitting us hard,” Whitmer said at a press conference. “I’m not going to sugarcoat this. You know by now that I don’t sugarcoat things, and I’m not going to start now: We are in the worst part of this pandemic to date. This is the moment that medical experts have been warning us about.”

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Michigan currently has 236,225 COVID-19 cases and 7,811 have died of the virus — an additional 6,940 cases and 45 deaths since Wednesday.

DHHS also reports that an additional 22,958 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 374 probable deaths. The department began tracking probable cases on April 5.

More than 3K are hospitalized for COVID-19, leaders issue dire warning

Combining the state’s confirmed positive cases with probable cases brings the total up to 259,183 statewide cases and 8,185 deaths.

The continued efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are washing your hands, social distancing, wearing a mask and getting a flu shot. Whitmer said no one is safe from the virus, and said residents should participate in all of these efforts, not just some.

She said the orders laid out by DHHS, such as face mask and gathering orders, must be followed.

“I want to be very clear: These orders have the force of law. These are epidemic powers,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer also said hospitals are nearing capacity and they’re “burning through PPE [personal protection equipment].”

The virus has been detected in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. There are currently 3,186 people hospitalized with coronavirus in Michigan, which is rapidly approaching the spring peak. The state’s COVID-19 fatality rate is at 3.3%.

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

Whitmer warns against Thanksgiving gatherings as state approaches 230K COVID-19 cases

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are more than 52.5 million confirmed cases worldwide and 1.3 million deaths. The United States makes up a significant portion of those, as more than 10.5 million confirmed cases and 242,310 deaths have been recorded nationally.

DHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said there’s wide community spread of COVID-19 across the entire state and 20% of ICU beds across the state are filled with COVID19 patients and this number is “rapidly increasing.”

“The winter holidays simply can not be the same this year,” Khaldun said. “This is not the time to travel for the holidays.”

Whitmer said additional steps and restrictions could be made in the future. She said — especially nearing the colder months — residents must do everything they can to slow the spread of the virus and keep others safe.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Whitmer said. “We will not be doing this forever, but right now it’s really dangerous… We’ll get through this and we’ll get through this together.”

Katie O'Brien Kelley
Katie O'Brien Kelley is a Michigan State University graduate with degrees in journalism and theatre. She was previously a reporter, editor and podcast coordinator at The State News — Michigan State's award-winning student paper. As a reporter there, she covered the university's administration, including its mishandling of reports against former doctor Larry Nassar's abuse, as well as academics and student experiences. She was also previously an intern at the Lansing City Pulse.
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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.