(CBS DETROIT) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference on Nov. 19 on the state’s response to COVID-19.

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On Thursday, Whitmer, Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich and House Democratic Leader Christine Greig sent a letter to President Trump, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Kevin McCarthy urging them to take swift action and pass a COVID relief bill that provides support to help combat COVID-19, mitigate its economic fallout, provide support for Michigan schools and protect frontline workers, restaurants, and small businesses.

Whitmer and the Democratic leaders also urged the federal government to provide support for Michigan’s unemployed workers.

“Nearly 3 million Michigan workers and counting have applied for unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic, with more than 600,000 still receiving benefits. Rising infections are likely to lead to more layoffs which will only drive this number higher. It is imperative that Congress take action now to extend the UI provisions of the CARES Act, such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, to provide relief to those who lost their job through no fault of their own and to bolster the larger economy,” said Whitmer.

“This virus can be deadly for everyone, that’s why these next three weeks are so crucial. We flattened the curve in the spring by listening to our public health and medical experts we can do this again,” the governor said.

Here are updates from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.

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  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 7,592 coronavirus cases in the state and an additional 134 deaths Thursday.
  • The deaths announced Thursday includes 61 deaths identified during a Vital Records review. This brings the state total of COVID-19 cases to 285,398 and 8,324 deaths as of Nov. 19.
  • Case rates across the state range from 418 cases per million in the Traverse City region to 934 cases per million in the Grand Rapids region. Test positivity ranges from 9 percent in the Traverse City Region to 16 percent in the Grand Rapids and the Kalamazoo regions.

“Every region in the state is seeing alarming case and test positivity rates,” Khaldun said.

Hospitals across the state are “closer and closer” to becoming overwhelmed and are on average 79 percent full, they are becoming more full of Covid-19 patients, according to Khaldun.

Michigan has the fourth highest number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in the country behind Texas, Illinois and California.

The chief medical executive said the public health system is also becoming overwhelmed. Case investigators and contact tracers may not be able to reach everyone they need to in a timely way.

“It is very possible if you have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, our contact tracers may not be able to get in contact with you quickly enough to let you know you need to quarantine. That’s why we are encouraging everyone to download the MI Covid Alert App,” she said.

As for Thanksgiving next week, Khaldun says, “The smartest thing is not to gather.”

“Indoor gatherings are a major way that Covid-19 is spreading right now and at the rates we are seeing in the state, it is very likely if you are gathering for Thanksgiving, the virus will also be around the table with you,” she said.

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