(CBS DETROIT) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Wednesday afternoon providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.
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Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the state is working to expand the use of a medical intervention designed to significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.
The governor says this involves additional doses of monoclonal antibodies being made available to providers and requests to providers to expand the number of infusion sites in the state.
“We are using every mitigation strategy, every medication, and every treatment option to fight the virus here in Michigan,” said Whitmer. “These antibody treatments could keep you out of the hospital and save your life, and my administration and I will continue working with the federal government to make sure we are using all the tools in our toolbox to keep you and your family safe and get back to normal sooner.”
Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are laboratory-produced molecules that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells. mAb targets different parts of the virus and prevents it from bonding with cells in the body, effectively neutralizing it.
Whitmer’s administration said clinical trials have shown promising data that this therapy works for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe symptoms and/or hospitalization, including older Michiganders.
To date, preliminary data suggests more than 6,600 Michiganders have received this treatment with 65% reporting feeling better with two days of treatment and less than 5% of them requiring hospitalization following treatment.
April 9 Conference
Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Friday morning providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.
To slow the spread and protect Michiganders, Whitmer urged Michiganders to voluntarily suspend in-person activities for high schools, indoor dining, and youth sports for two weeks. Here’s everything you need to know.
- To date, Whitmer says Michigan has administered over five million vaccines to 3.1 million residents.
- Last week Whitmer raised Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination goal from 50,000 to 100,000 shots per day.
- All Michiganders 16 and up are now eligible to get vaccinated.
“The vaccine is the most effective way to protect you and your family from this virus,” Whitmer said.
- Michigan will hit more than five million vaccinations by the end of the day, according to Whitmer.
- Michigan is currently considered a “hot spot” due to a recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
- Michigan will continue to implement smart health policies and mitigation measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including a statewide mask mandate, limits on indoor social gatherings larger than 25 people, expanded testing requirements for youth sports, and dozens of pop-up testing sites across the state.
Over the last few weeks, Michigan has tracked outbreaks associated with youth sports.
To prevent additional outbreaks, Whitmer is urging youth sports on both school-sponsored and non-school sponsored teams to suspend in-person activities, like games and practices, for the next two weeks.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requires testing for youth sports between the ages of 13-19, and provides testing assistance through the MI Safer Sports testing program, which expanded weekly testing protocols for athletes and teams.
For all youth sports, participants must test on at least a weekly basis for COVID-19, and also before any unmasked activity.
In addition to urging youth sports to suspend in-person activities, Whitmer is asking high schools to utilize virtual instruction for the next two weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The health department issued guidance to schools strongly encouraging them to enroll in the department’s testing program if they are open to in-person instruction.
Additionally, the state is offering 56 pop-up sites located throughout Michigan as part of the special program in an effort to increase access to testing for Michiganders returning from Spring Break. For more information on additional test sites, visit here.
The governor also urged Michiganders to avoid dining indoors and avoid gathering with friends indoors for two weeks.
By opting to dine outdoors or order takeout, restaurants can remain open while operating safely to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Here are updates from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.
- The state is on track to potentially see a surge in cases that is greater than the one the state saw in the fall.
- Michigan is now at 515 cases per million people, which is four times where the state was in the middle of February.
- The percent of positive tests has increased to 18 percent, which is also four times where the state was in the middle of February.
- Khaldun says the state has not seen this high of a positivity rate since the first surge last spring, which indicates there is a broad community spread.
- Hospitalizations have also increased with 15.2 percent of hospital beds being used for COVID-19 patients.
- The state health department is also tracking 991 outbreaks in counties across the state which includes outbreaks in K-12 schools, manufacturing and construction, long-term care facilities, child care, retail, restaurants and bars.
March 19 Press Conference
Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Friday morning providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.
Starting Monday, March 22, gatherings can be increased up to 20 percent capacity in outdoor stadiums and arenas that establish infection control plans.
The update also increases testing for youth ages 13-19 to ensure athletes can safely participate in sports.
The changes will remain in effect until April 19.
Gatherings at outdoor stadiums and arenas are increased to 20 percent of the venue’s capacity if the site:
- Establishes an infection control plan that complies with the protocols included in MDHHS’s document entitled Enhanced Outdoor Stadium and Arena Guidance.
- Posts the mitigation plan publicly.
- Sends infection control plans to the local health department and MDHHS at least seven days before scheduled events.
- Administers a testing program as specified in MDHHS’s Guidance for Athletics for all players.
The state now has at least 756 cases of the B 1.1.7 variant, which is the second most confirmed cases of any state behind Florida. Michigan also has two confirmed cases of the South African, B 1351 variant.
Here are updates from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.
Michigan’s metrics have been increasing for the past few weeks. The presence of more infectious variants, such as the B 1.1.7 variant, threatens our progress in control of the epidemic and MDHHS will be monitoring data closely. In recent days:
- Positivity rate: has increased for four weeks to 6.2 percent. This metric is up 177 percent from the mid-February low but remains below the December high of 19.4 percent.
- Statewide case rate: This metric has increased over the past four weeks to 172.9 cases per million. The rate is up 77 percent from the low in mid-February but remains below the peak of 737.8 cases per million on Saturday, Nov 14.
- Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 is now at 4.9 percent. This metric peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and is now up 25 percent from an end of February low.
Beginning Monday, March 22 all Michiganders 50 and up as well as Michiganders ages 16 and up with underlining medical conditions or disabilities will be eligible to get vaccinated.
The governor also announced, beginning April 5, all Michiganders ages 16 and up will be eligible to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals may now participate in residential gatherings with other fully vaccinated individuals without wearing a mask. For more information, visit here.
To date, Michigan has administered 3,310,162 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To register for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit here.
March 18 Press Conference
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Thursday morning providing details on Ford Field’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic, which is set to open on March 24.
Ford Field will operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week for eight weeks under the federal government’s vaccination pilot program.
The Ford Field clinic has the capacity to administer 6,000 doses daily to serve residents in the broader Southeast Michigan region. The vaccine will be offered at no cost and insurance is not required, nor will it be requested at the vaccination clinic.
The site will be managed by the state of Michigan with support from FEMA, Wayne County, the city of Detroit, Ford Field, Meijer, Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Lions and the Protect Michigan Commission.
Those wishing to register can simply text EndCovid to 75049 and select Ford Field as the location or visit here.
Residents who don’t have access to the internet or need assistance navigating through the registration process can use the MDHHS COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1) to register.
Michigan residents can call Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Meijer will also manage the check-in process for those receiving vaccines at Ford Field, provide onsite pharmacists for clinical review, and vaccine security and stability, deploy IT development teams and infrastructure, coordinate data submission to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry and preserve the patient’s immunization record.
For more information, visit here.
March 10 Press Conference
Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Wednesday afternoon providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.
On March 10,2020 Michigan detected its first case of COVID-19.
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- To date, the state has administered over 2 million vaccines to Michiganders of all races making the state 10th nationwide.
- The governor said the Biden Administration’s recent announcement that there will be enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end of May is “nothing short of a miracle.”
From 8-9 p.m. Wednesday night, Whitmer requested Michiganders to turn on their porch lights to light up the streets in memory of those lost to the coronavirus.
The governor also released a video during her press conference of a video on social media of her and Lt. Gov. Garlin Flichrist reflecting on the first anniversary of COVID-19 in Michigan. You can watch the video below.
Here are updates from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.
- Since the first diagnoses in the state, over 15,600 Michiganders have died from COVID-19
- Khaldun says the silver lining in this pandemic is that so many strong partnerships have developed across multiple sectors such as government, business, academia and health care to fight the pandemic.
- Statewide test positivity has increased to 4.1 percent which is up from 3.4 percent three and a half weeks ago
- Michigan’s case rate is now at 114 cases per million people and has increased for the past three weeks
- There is a slight increase in hospitalizations with over 4 percent of hospital beds being used to treat COVID-19 patients
- There are over 500 cases of the new COVID-19 variant (B 1.1.7) identified in the state
- Two days ago the state identified the first known case of the B.1.351 variant
Khaldun says the state is seeing a slight reversal in some of the progress that was made over the past couple of months. She urged Michiganders to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands frequently, avoid large gatherings and to get a vaccine when possible.
The state has expanded eligibility to Michiganders over the age of 50 with underlining conditions and disabilities. Soon the state plans to vaccinate anyone over the age of 50. This week, Michigan also provided additional vaccine allotments to more than 20 partnerships across the state. The partnerships include hospitals, local health departments, health centers, community-based organizations and faith leaders bringing vaccines into neighborhoods and to those who are home bound and older residents.
This week, the CDC came out with an updated guidance on what people who have been vaccinated (with both doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can do.
FEBRUARY 24 PRESS CONFERENCE
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- 85 percent of Michigan school districts are currently back in-person
- According to a report from the governor’s research partners at Epic, 97 percent of school districts will be back in-person by Monday, March 1
- The governor says schools environment provides social and emotional skills that are foundational to a child’s development
- While some students and families have been successful with distance learning, far too many have struggled, Whitmer said
- The governor added there have been disheartening impacts on children’s mental and physical health since their lives were upended in March
- Since last April, grants have been provided to more than 6,500 child care providers and child care professionals are being vaccinated
- Whitmer proposed a $370 million investment in her budget to make childcare low or no cost for 150,000 more families
- Whitmer’s administration established a $6 million child care innovation fund to find pioneering solutions for working families
“The transition to remote learning during this pandemic has exacerbated existing equity gaps statewide that we have worked to narrow,” said Whitmer.
- Michigan is now at 95 cases per million people and has continued to decline for six weeks
- 3.5 percent of tests in the state are positive but continues to decline.
- 4.9 percent of hospital beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients
FEBRUARY 9 PRESS CONFERENCE
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- On Tuesday, Whitmer and Major General Paul Rogers visited the Michigan State University Pavilion to observe its ongoing vaccination efforts for area residents. Joining them for the site visit were Lt. Col. Karen Sims, the Medical Detachment Officer in Charge, along with state Representative Julie Brixie.
- As of Tuesday, Whitmer says the state has administered 1,292,572 vaccines, moving the state closer to its goal of equitably vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible.
- Michigan is working to administer 50,000 shots per day through the Governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, partnering with private and academic organizations like at MSU Pavilion to create more opportunities for Michigan residents to receive a vaccine.
- As part of her commitment to keep Michigan safely moving forward, Whitmer’s administration set a goal that all school districts will be prepared to offer an option for in-person learning no later than March 1.
- Case rates have steadily declined to 144 case per million, which is down 81 percent from the mid-November peak.
- 4.5 percent of tests in the state are positive but continues to decline.
- 6 percent of hospital beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients which is down 72 percent since the fall peak of Dec. 1.
Michigan’s numbers continue to trend overall in the right direction, but Khaldun says she’s concerned about the new coronavirus variant, adding that the state is now aware of 45 cases of the variant have been identified across 10 counties.
Khaldun says Michiganders can continue to slow the spread of the coronavirus by social distancing and wearing a mask. She also added data has shown that schools can establish a low-risk of virus transmission by making sure they wear a mask and adopt careful infection prevention protocols.
“That’s why continue to encourage all school districts to develop and implement their own plans to adopt an in person learning option by March 1,” she said.
February 4 Press Conference
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- Michigan has passed the one million mark of administering vaccines
- This week the Biden administration the is taking action to increase the vaccine supply to the state. It is now 10 and a half million doses per week nationwide.
- On Thursday, Whitmer signed an executive order to create the Student Recovery Advisory Council of Michigan. The Student Recovery Council will provide guidance and recommendations to ensure Michigan students have the tools and resources they need to get back on track.
- Housed within the Department of Technology Management and Budget, the council will be composed of 29 members from diverse backgrounds who are appointed by the governor. The Council is tasked with:
- Developing and submitting recommendations to the governor, state superintendent, and state budget director regarding student recovery.
- Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for academic support for students who experienced learning loss due to COVID-19.
- Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for mental and physical health for students impacted by COVID-19.
- Recommending actions to develop and improve systems to support high school students transitioning into postsecondary education.
- Recommending actions to develop and improve out-of-school time supports, including, but not limited to, summer school, before and after school programs, and extended school years.
- Assembling critical voices from the education and public health communities to assist in identifying key challenges students face due to the pandemic.
- Providing other information or advice or take other actions as requested by the governor.
- Reporting regularly to the governor on its activities and make recommendations on an ongoing basis.
- The council will serve until December 31, 2021.
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its current epidemic order to allow contact sports to resume as of Monday, Feb. 8. The order remains in effect through Monday, March 29.
- Masks must be worn during practices and competition
- If masks cannot be worn, participants must be regularly tested for COVID-19 consistent with guidelines issued by MDHHS.
- Safety protocols like wearing masks and testing will help keep kids, coaches and families safe and allow our schools to remain open for in-person instruction.
- Sports organizers are encouraged to administer a testing program even if it is not required.
- Participants need to maintain six feet of distance when not actively engaged in play and wear face masks at all times. Spectators are allowed with up to 250 people in stadiums that seat less than 10,000 and up 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Michigan hard, and our students, families, teachers, and school staff have all felt the strain. Still, our educators have worked tirelessly to teach our children during this pandemic under the most stressful conditions, and for that our state is forever indebted to them for their service,” said Whitmer. “It is important to remember that schools also provide other services that students need to succeed including reliable access to the internet, nutritious meals, and mental health supports. COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities in our education system, and we know more work is needed to address the significant impact this pandemic has had on our children. This Council will be integral to ensuring our students and educators are equipped with everything they need to thrive.”
MDHHS had been closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks, and Michigan continues to see improvements. Here are updates from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.
In recent days:
- Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in 10-week decline, with current capacity at 6.6% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
- Overall case rates: Currently at 159 cases per million after peaking at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14. Rate has been in solid decline for 24 days. Three MERC regions in the state are now below 150 cases per million people: the Detroit, Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions.
- Positivity rate: currently at 4.9% and declining. This is the first time positivity has been this low since mid-October
January 25 Press Conference
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- President Joe Biden is expected to sign a Buy American executive order Monday insuring when the federal government spends tax payer dollars, they are on American made goods. Whitmer says in Michigan, this means building a stronger state for the thousands of dedicated auto workers who build Michigan-made cars.
- The President’s executive order strengthens American supply chains and federal purchasing power to invest in America’s industry, unions and workers.
- Monday morning, Whitmer announced appointments to the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission to raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Whitmer announced last week the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan that includes a direct focus on vaccine distribution.
- The governor says when it comes to vaccine doses used, Michigan is one of the top 10 states in the nation. As of Jan. 12, the state had administered 44 percent of the Michigan controlled vaccines with the rest scheduled. As of Jan. 22, now the state has administered 67 percent.
- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity made changes that allowed students in college career and technical education programs to keep their food assistance and stay in school. Whitmer said close to 90,000 students qualified.
- Last spring, food assistance recipients were given the chance to redeem their benefits with online food purchases from Amazon, and Walmart with Aldi later joining.
- MDHHS’ Aging and Adult Sercives Agency provided home delivered meals to older adults while congregate dining sites were closed during the pandemic. Whitmer says more than 46,000 aging adults received more than 6.4 million home delivered meals from March through September 2020.
- In August, Whitmer formed the Food Security Council within MDHHS to develop recommendations for addressing food insecurity during the pandemic.
- Whitmer says it’s crucial that the Legislature joins forces with her to pass the MI COVID Recovery Plan to ramp up vaccine distribution, support small businesses and get students and educators back on track.
- The state is now at 203 cases per million and that’s down 73 percent since the November peak
- Test positivity rate has declined and is now at 6.2 percent
- Hospital in patient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is trending down and now at 9.2 percent
Khaldun says there are now at least 13 variant cases confirmed in Washetnaw County and at least four in Wayne county. She says there is likely more cases of the variant and it is more than likely being spread.
“This means for any given case, it will likely affect more people and lead to more spread, and this means possibly more cases overall, more hospitalizations and deaths,” she said.
The variant does not appear to cause more severe disease, Michigan’s current tests can identify it and the current vaccines appear to work against it according to Khaldun.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel acknowledged the actions Whitmer’s administration has taken during the pandemic to provide access to food for residents whose finances have been affected by the coronavirus.
“Every day MDHHS staff in local offices from Southeast Michigan to the Upper Peninsula work to provide residents with access to food through SNAP benefits,” said Hertel. “It’s one of the most important things our department does. Our staff stepped up without missing a beat during difficult circumstances and met the increased need for food assistance that was created by the pandemic – even while our employees adjusted to working remotely to keep everyone safe.”
MDHHS also implemented a 15 percent increase supported by Whitmer and MDHHS and secured by Sen. Stabenow in the recently enacted Coronavirus Relief Act. This will increase food assistance benefits by $102 per month for a household of four, for six months.
Other actions that Whitmer and MDHHS took to address food insecurity during COVID-19 include:
- Starting the Restaurant Meals Program, through which aging adults, residents with disabilities and homeless people can use their food assistance to get hot prepared meals at participating restaurants. The program also helps an industry that has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- Forming a Food Security Council that has made recommendations that are being implemented to address food insecurity.
- Providing home-delivered meals to older adults through Michigan’s aging network. More than 46,000 people received more than 6.4 million home-delivered meals from March through September 2020 – an 8% increase in the number of meals.
- Providing home-delivered meals to older adults through Michigan’s aging network while congregate dining sites were closed during the pandemic. More than 37,000 congregate meal participants received more than 1.6 million home-delivered meals during fiscal year 2020.
- Distributing 47,600 quarantine boxes of 20 meals each to adults 60 and over through Area Agencies on Aging, as well as arranging for 115,428 USDA-produced boxes to be distributed to older adult by the local agencies.
- Distributing 230,000 USDA Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers to allow older adults to get local, fresh fruit and produce.
To apply for food assistance or other public assistance benefits, go to www.Michigan.gov/MIBridges.
January 22 Press Conference
Whitmer announced the state would allow indoor dining to resume in Michigan starting Feb. 1. The new order will last three weeks, until Sunday, Feb. 21.
Here’s more about the new order:
- indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements
- concessions at casinos
- movie theaters and stadiums
- personal services requiring mask removal
- and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households
Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.
“The pause has worked. The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives. Now, we are confident that starting February 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place,” said Whitmer.
The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor contact sports and other venues and activities where participants have close physical contacts and are not consistently masked, like water parks.
However, as of Jan. 22, stadiums can allow up to 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people and stadiums that seat less than 10,000 are allowed to be at 20 percent capacity, up to 250 people. This will allow for additional attendance at high school football finals being hosted this weekend.
The Michigan Department Health of Human Services had been closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks.
Michigan continues to see improvements in these metrics which has allowed for additional relaxing of protocols and reopening of activities. In recent days:
- Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in seven-week decline, with current capacity at 9.9% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
- Overall case rates: Currently at 225 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14, plateaued after a decline to 239 on Friday, Dec. 25 and has been in decline for 11 days.
- Positivity rate: currently at 6.8 percent and declining.
For more information, visit here.
January 13 Press Conference
Michigan updated its epidemic order Wednesday to allow the re-opening of additional activities where Michiganders can remain masked and socially distanced.
This includes indoor group exercise and non-contact sports. The new order is effective Saturday, Jan. 16 and will last until Sunday, Jan. 31.
The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. The working plan is to open indoor dining with mitigation measures, capacity limits and a curfew on Feb. 1, but the ultimate decision depends on data continuing to stabilize.
Colleges and universities can have students return to campus for the winter semester and restart in-person courses as of Jan. 18.
As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; and personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment.
Previously, MDHHS had identified stabilization or declines in three metrics as critical for relaxing protocols. Although Michigan saw improvements across all three following the “pause” implemented in mid-November, some numbers have plateaued or begun to increase in recent days:
- Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in 13-day decline, with current capacity is at 12 percent for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6 percent on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
- Overall case rates: increasing, currently at 266 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14 and declined to a low of 239 on Friday, Dec. 25
- Positivity rate: plateauing; currently at 9.1 percent after reaching a low of 8.1 percent on Monday, Dec. 28 and increasing up to 10 percent since then.
Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department.
Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.
Here are more updates from Whitmer:
- This week, the governor sent a letter to the Trump Administration requesting permission to directly purchase up to 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines for the state of Michigan.
- On Monday, Whitmer’s office announced the UIA has begun issuring $300 weekly payments to an estimated 365,000 claimants in Michigan.
- Whitmer also announced Employee Assistance Grants will put dollars in the pocket of Michiganders who work in hospitality, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services sectors as well as the gym and fitness sectors.
- Applications open for submission beginning at 9 a.m. Jan. 15 and will be available until Jan. 25, 2021 at 5 p.m.
- The grants are not first come, first serve and the application will be open for submissions for the entirety of that 10-day period. Eligible recipients meeting all criteria and providing a complete and accurate application will be awarded assistance up to $1,650. The award is taxable, but it will not count against your Unemployment as income.
- For more information and applications visit here.
- On Thursday, Whitmer said the Michigan Strategic Fund Board will consider the authorization of $58.5 million in additional COVID-19 support for small businesses.
January 8 Press Conference
Whitmer announced Friday her administration’s goal is for all Michigan school districts to offer in-person learning option no later than March 1 and earlier if possible.
The new guidance emphasizes the methods of reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread which includes wearing masks, ventilation improvements, frequent hand washing and social distancing. It is for grades pre-kindergarten through 12 and includes early childhood education, such as Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program.
Vaccination of teachers and other school staff will begin by Jan. 11 due to educators’ roles as essential frontline workers.
“The value of in-person learning for our kids is immeasurable, and we must do everything we can to help them get a great education safely,” said Whitmer.
The governor said over the last 10 months medical experts and epidemiologists “have closely followed the data and have learned that schools can establish a low risk of transmission by ensuring that everyone wears a mask and adopting careful infection prevention protocols.”
Here are other infection control measures under the new MDHHS guidance:
- When feasible, assigning children to cohort groups and limiting their interactions to their cohorts to reduce the number of contacts.
- Keeping children 6 feet apart from one another to the extent feasible, making creative use of school spaces to facilitate distancing.
- Providing adequate hand sanitizing supplies and reinforcing proper handwashing techniques.
- Improving air ventilation.
- Having staff and students conduct self-screenings for symptoms at home every day before going to school.
- Ensuring school plans are in place in coordination with their local health department if there are any positive COVID-19 tests.
- Having staff and students who either test positive or are close contacts of those who test positive follow the guidance issued by MDHHS as well as local health departments. Anyone who is considered a close contact of someone who tests positive but does not have symptoms should quarantine for 10 days under CDC guidance.
Additional recommendations can be found in the State of Michigan Guidelines for Operating Schools Safely on Michigan’s Schools COVID Testing website.
- Cases are at 222 cases per million people and have increased in the past week.
- Percent positivity is now 9.3 percent and has continued to increase over the past week and was 8.2 percent on Dec. 27, 2020.
- 12.8 percent of available in-patient beds at hospitals are filled with COVID-19 patients. Khaldun says this number continues to decrease.
Overall, Khaldun says metrics show the state is at a pivotal moment.
“The declines we were seeing over the holidays, seem to be reversing. I’m concerned there were gatherings over the winter holidays and we’re starting to see results of that,” she said.
She’s also concerned about a new variant of the coronavirus in Michigan that originated in the United Kingdom that has caused a “dangerously fast increase in cases there.” Khaldun says the new variant is transmitted more easily, risking a significant increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Michiganders who traveled over the holidays should quarantine for at least 10 days after their return, so if you do have the virus you don’t spread it to others.
If you’ve traveled over the holidays and have symptoms or have been exposed, Khaldun says you should get a coronavirus test and mask up.
January 6 Press Conference
Here are the governor’s updates:
- Whitmer said the state’s actions are working. The vast majority of Michiganders are doing their part by wearing a mask, practicing safe social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings where the virus can spread easily.
- In the past three weeks, the state has administered more than 152,000 vaccines.
- Michigan is also now entering a new phase of vaccination starting Monday, Jan. 11.
By Jan. 11, all counties may begin vaccinating Michiganders over age 65. Some essential workers will also begin to be vaccinated including:
- school and child care staff
- frontline county, state and federal responders
- staff in jails, prisons and shelters
“The more people we can get the safe and effective vaccine, the faster we can return to a sense of normalcy,” said Whitmer. “I urge all seniors to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible and that all Michiganders to make a plan to get vaccinated when it becomes available to you. And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eliminate this virus together.”
Whitmer says to date, 80 percent of deaths have occurred among those age 65 and older.
In addition to vaccinating Michiganders who are 75+ in Phase 1B (Phase 1B, Group A), MDHHS is accelerating to vaccinate individuals 65-74 years old (Phase 1C Group A). MDHHS is accelerating implementation of vaccination of individuals 65-74 years due to concern around disparity in life expectancy by race/ethnicity for this group (Phase 1C, Group A).
The Phases are as follows:
- Phase 1A: Paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home as well as residents in long term care facilities.
- Phase 1B: Persons 75 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.
- Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety and protection during the COVID-19 response.
- Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.
- Cases are at 237 cases per million people and range from 198 cases in the Traverse City region to 342 cases in the Jackson region.
- Over the past week cases have been plateauing after having a decline over the previous six days.
- Michigan’s case rate is more than twice what it was at the beginning of October.
- 12.6 percent of in-patient hospital beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients. This is down from 19.6 percent on Dec. 4, 2020.
- The percent of positive coronavirus tests is now at 9.6 percent, which is an increase from 8.2 percent on Dec. 27, 2020.
Overall Khaldun says she is concerned because the state may be seeing a “slowing of progress.”
As for vaccinations, the state has set a goal to have 70 percent of Michiganders over the age of 16 vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Khaldun says prior to the press conference, there was a meeting with the CDC who informed her team that Michigan is now in the top five states in the nation when it comes to the percent of Michiganders that have been vaccinated. This comes after Michigan was ranked 7th worst in the nation for administering COVID-19 vaccines, according to the CDC.
The chief medial executive said this was great progress and “expects the CDC website to be updated later today.”
December 29 Press Conference
Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Tuesday morning providing updates on the State’s response to COVID-19.
Whitmer says because of the actions that Michiganders have taken, the state’s numbers are “better than all of our midwestern neighbors,” adding that the numbers are encouraging and will continue to be monitored.
- The governor is urging the Legislature to pass legislation to protect public health by requiring masks be worn in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Whitmer said studies have shown that if everyone wears a mask until the vaccine is widely distributed, hundreds of thousands of American lives can be saved.
- On Monday, Whitmer’s administration announced the distribution of the vaccine to skilled nursing home residents and staff.
- On Tuesday, prior to the press conference, Whitmer signed a $106 million bipartisan relief bill and bills extending unemployment benefits to 26 weeks.
- The relief bill includes $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
- Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses across the state that need support this winter.
- The relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues and includes $45 million in direct payments to workers who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the virus.
- The governor also signed bipartisan Senate Bill 604 extending unemployment benefits for Michiganders who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of March 2021.
When Whitmer signed the bipartisan relief bill, she line item vetoed any items not subject to negotiated agreement. That includes a $220 million giveaway of taxpayer money to the employer-owned Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund — a pool of funds designed to help businesses fund benefits for laid off workers. General fund dollars must be used to fund essential services like vaccines and PPE, not to give tax breaks to big businesses. The Unemployment Insurance Agency has also provided more than $900 million in tax breaks to businesses impacted by COVID-19.
“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief. This bipartisan bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eliminate COVID-19 once and for all,” said Whitmer. “There is still more work to do to eliminate this virus and grow our economy. All Michiganders have a personal responsibility to do their part and mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. We will beat this virus together.
- Cases are now at 279 cases per million people and have been declining for more than 38 days. The state is still at a rate of more than four times than what data showed at the beginning of September.
- Test positivity is at 8.4 percent and has been declining for multiple weeks, but the test positivity rate is almost three times more since September.
- The Saginaw and Jackson regions have test positivity rates above 10 percent. These regions have seen a decline in cases, but they have the highest case rate in the state Khaldun said.
- 13.8 percent of the state’s in-patient beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients. This is down 16.5 percent from the previous week.
- Deaths in the state are declining. There’s been an average of 107 deaths per day compared to 123 deaths per day the previous week.
“Overall there is reason to be cautiously optimistic, but it’s important that people do not get complacent,” she said. Khaldun says what is being seen in the data is not a “cause to celebrate.”
“We are still identifying many cases across the state everyday and it only takes one gathering for it to spread through multiple households and their close contacts,” she said.
Khaldun also urged Michiganders to continue to get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the coronavirus or have been around anyone with symptoms. The chief medical executive added Michigan testing is the lowest now than it has been in recent months with only 37,307 tests on average in the past week. For more information on testing sites, visit here.
Vaccinations began two weeks ago in Michigan. As of Tuesday, nearly 71,000 people have been vaccinated in the state, Khaldun said and with Michigan beginning vaccinations in longterm care facilities, there are already over 490 clinics scheduled in these facilities in the upcoming weeks.
For more information or resources for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit here.
December 18 Press Conference
Here are the governor’s updates:
- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its epidemic order to allow indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked.
- This includes in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues.
- Casinos, bowling centers, and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with a capacity limit capped at 100. Food and drink concessions must remain closed and social distancing requirements must be observed.
December 15 Press Conference
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Tuesday afternoon providing updates on the state’s response to COVID-19.
Here are the governor’s updates:
- Last week the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced an extension of “Pause To Save Lives” to prevent Michigan’s hospitals from overwhelming, protect those serving on the front lines, protect small businesses and slow the spread of COVID-19.
“To the Michiganders and business owners who have doubled down on mask-wearing, social distancing, and limiting indoor gathering where COVID-19 thrives, thank you,” she said.
- On Monday, the first of Michigan’s frontline workers received the Pfizer vaccine.
- Three weeks ago the governor sent a letter to the Michigan Legislature requesting that they take action to protect public health and save lives.
- In the three weeks since nearly 2,000 people have died from COVID-19, Whitmer said.
“That’s nearly 2,000 parents, grandparents, children, and loved ones who were taken from us too soon,” she added.
The letter to the Michigan Legislation focused on three things:
- Passing a $100 million Michigan COVID relief plan
- Passing a permanent extension of unemployment benefits
- Passing legislation to protect public health
Khaldun says there are 560 cases per million per day in the state and has been declining for the past 22 days. All areas of the state have seen a decline in the case rate.
Hospitalizations are also declining. Overall 18.5 percent of hospital beds have COVID-19 patients. The percent of tests that are positive is at 12.3 percent and the number has been “trending down” for the past seven days.
“All of this means, that we are cautiously optimistic that there was not a post-Thanksgiving surge in cases,” Khaldun said.
Case rates remain “alarmingly high” and the percent of tests that are positive is still four times what they were at the beginning of September.
As for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Khaldun says “it is 95 percent effective and it is safe.”
On Monday, the state also launched its COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. Here, anyone can go to track how many providers are enrolled where the vaccine has been distributed.
Since there is limited supplies of the vaccine, Michigan is distributing the vaccine first to frontline healthcare workers this week. By the end of the month, the state hopes to start vaccinating residents and staff in skilled nursing facilities. Depending on the supply from the federal government, eventually vaccines for other essential workers and those at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness will be available.
“We hope to be able to offer the vaccine to the general public by late spring of 2021,” Khaldun said.
She also added, everyone ages 16 and up should now be planning for how and when they will get the vaccine. Khaldun says the COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you the virus, it only “shares a specific code with your body so your body can recognize the virus later and fight it off.”
Some will have mild side effects due to the vaccine such as:
- a sore arm
- low-grade fever
- general malaise
For the maximum vaccination benefit, there will be two doses for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. If you get the Pfizer vaccine, the doses will be administered three weeks apart. For the Moderna vaccine, the doses will be administered four weeks apart. Khaldun said these are things to expect and it means that the vaccine is working.
After receiving the vaccine, you must still wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently.
She also urged the public to go to trusted sources when it comes to information on the vaccines visit www.michigan.gov/covidvaccine for more information.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also warned Michiganders to be aware of bogus COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, test kits, and clinical trial offers during the press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Fraudulent coronavirus treatments come in a variety of forms, including pills, dietary supplements, herbal teas, essential oils, and medical devices. Fraudulent coronavirus test kits are also being offered for sale online. The FDA is monitoring complaints of fake coronavirus treatments and tests. They offer the following tips:
- Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide variety of diseases.
- Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.
- Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly; be suspicious of any product or treatment claiming to be a “quick fix.”
- “Miracle cures,” which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, are likely a hoax.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do NOT purchase an alleged vaccine or treatment over the internet or from an online pharmacy.
- Always consult a licensed medical professional to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment.
- Do not respond to text messages, emails, or calls about vaccines or treatments.
- Beware of ads on social media for vaccines, treatments, and/or clinical trials.
December 10 Press Conference
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- On Thursday, Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-193 creating the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission within the Department of Health and Human Services to help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educate the people of this state, and help protect the health and safety of all Michigan residents.
- The Commission will be chaired by:
- Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II
- Former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley
- Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun
- Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin
- Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, associate professor of Pediatrics and C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health
- SER Metro CEO Eva Dewaelsche
- Soumit Pendharkar, MHA, FACHE, health administrator for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
- Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese-Decker
- Jamie Brown, registered nurse and president of the Michigan Nurses Association
- The commission will consist of at least 50 members that will represent the great diversity of our state.
- To apply to serve on the Protect Michigan Commission, visit michigan.gov/appointments and apply by Dec. 28.
- The Commission will be chaired by:
Thursday is National Get Covered Day and the governor urged Michiganders who need health care coverage to sign up before the Affordable Care Act deadline on Dec. 15. If you haven’t signed up and think you might be eligible, visit healthcare.gov.
Before Thanksgiving, Whitmer sent a letter to the Legislature urging to pass a $100 million relief bill to provide support to families and small businesses in Michigan hit hard by the pandemic. The governor said she looks forward to working with Michigan’s Legislature to enact $50 million to help Michiganders who need it most.READ MORE: COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic At WCCCD Extends Walk-In Hours
Whitmer added effective immediately, most entertainment recreational venues and restaurants that depend on indoor dining, can postpone their monthly sales, use and withholding tax payments that are due Dec. 20, can be postponed to Jan. 20, 2021.
“The state treasury will wave all penalties and interest for 31 days. This is a crucial step in helping our businesses that are struggling, but we still need the Legislature and the federal government to act,” Whitmer said.
Khaldun says there are 514 cases per million per day in the state and has been declining for the past 19 days. All areas of the state have seen a decline in the case rate. The percent of tests that are positive is at 14 percent and the number has been fluctuating up and down for the past few weeks, but has not changed significantly and is “still quite high.”
Hospitalizations are overall trending down over the past week and decreased in all but two regions in the state. Nineteen percent of in-patient beds have COVID-19 patients in them.
There’s also been a slight decrease in testing. Michigan has averaged a little over 56,500 tests per day last week compared to over 59,000 tests per day this week.
The department is also actively preparing to distribute a COVID vaccine when it is approved by the FDA. Khaldun said this could happen as early as the week of Dec. 14.
“A vaccine will only be approved when it has gone through three phases of clinical trials including tens of thousands of people, and the top scientists and doctors in the country have reviewed the data and have determined that the vaccine is actually safe,” she said.
There are two vaccines in the final approval processes. Once they are approved, the department is expected to receive a “limited allocation” of the vaccines and expects to receive shipments every week. The vaccines would then go to hospitals, local health departments, pharmacies and other partners, according to Khaldun.
Based on recents estimates from the federal government, Michigan will receive about 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine if it becomes available the week of Dec. 14. The Moderna vaccine — which is a different vaccine — is behind the Pfizer vaccine in the approval process, Khaldun said.
“If it is approved, and that may be later on this month as well, recent federal estimates suggests (Michigan) will receive about 173,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the first shipment,” she said.
Khaldun reiterated information provided on the vaccines Thursday, were both estimates and depend on the federal government and the manufacturing process.
“The amount and the timing of these shipments could still change, but we are still making plans to send vaccines to hospitals and local health departments across the state that have the ability to administer and store them,” she said.
The first priority for vaccination will be frontline healthcare workers, as well as people living and working in longterm care facilities. As more vaccines become available, they will be distributed to more people including other essential workers, people with underline medical conditions and people who are over the age of 65.
By late spring, Khaldun hopes the vaccine will be available for the general public.
“It is important that every adult in the state starts making plans for getting the vaccine. Talk to your doctor now about your risk factors and when the vaccine may become available to you,” she said.
For the maximum vaccination benefit, there will be two doses for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. If you get the Pfizer vaccine, the doses will be administered three weeks apart. For the Moderna vaccine, the doses will be administered four weeks apart.
Here’s what to expect once vaccinated. The vaccines are preparing your body to fight the real virus if it comes into contact with it. This means many will get mild symptoms after getting vaccinated such as:
- a sore arm
- low grade fever
- general malaise
Khaldun said these are things to expect and it means that the vaccine is working.
Khaldun also urged the public to go to trusted sources when it comes to information on the vaccines visit www.michigan.gov/covidvaccine for more information.
December 7 Conference
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has extended Michigan’s partial shutdown by 12 days that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities. The order — which was set to expire Dec. 8 — will now be in place through Dec. 20.
Whitmer says the additional 12 days will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan.
Here’s everything to know about the extension:
- MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings, and only two households may gather inside, with strict protocols recommended.
- Individuals should wear masks consistently whenever they are inside with individuals not in their household, and are recommended to pick only a small group to see regularly.
- Bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service, but can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery.
- Gyms are open for individual exercise with mandatory masking and additional strict safety measures.
- Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes remain closed.
- Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators.
- Colleges, universities and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes.
- Employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, including those in manufacturing, construction and health occupations.
- Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open.
- Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.
What happens after the 12 day extension?
MDHHS also identified three key metrics that will be utilized in determining whether to slowly reopen at the end of the 12 days.
Specifically, the department will be looking closely at the percentage of hospital beds with COVID patients, the number of COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate. With improvements in those numbers in context, MDHHS will carefully reopen, with in-person learning at high schools first. Next in line will be entertainment venues where people can maintain consistent masking, such as casinos, theaters and bowling, with concessions closed.
“While we have seen early signs of progress in our case rates and hospitalizations, unfortunately our rates are still alarmingly high and we need more time to understand the impact that Thanksgiving travel may have had on the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS.
Khaldun says over the last week, there’s been an average of 522 cases per million people. Cases have declined for 16 days but are still seven times what they were at the beginning of September.
Percent positivity remains high with a 14.1 percent positivity rate over the last week. The positivity rate was declining after Nov. 19 but in the last week began increasing.
Vaccines may potentially be available later this month, but will have a very limited supply Khaldun said.
“I am hopeful because vaccines will be available soon, potentially later this month. However, it will take time for the vaccine to be widely available to the general public, and it is important that we continue to do what we can to contain this virus.”
To learn more about the coronavirus vaccine, visit here.
MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said each person in the state has “a personal responsibility to wear a mask consistently.”
Gordon also added to “minimizing indoor gatherings,” so “frontline heroes and loved ones” could continue to be protected. “If we don’t, the disease will continue to spread and people will continue to get sick and die,” he said.
On Monday, Michigan reported 9,350 new coronavirus cases for Sunday and Monday and an additional 93 deaths. Monday’s daily case count represents new referrals of confirmed cases to the MDSS since Saturday, Dec. 5. Over the two days, Sunday and Monday, the average number of new confirmed cases is 4,675 per day. This brought the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 404,386 and 9,947.
As of Dec. 4, there’s been 197,750 people that have recovered from COVID-19 in the state.
December 3 Press Conference
Whitmer and the Michigan COVID-19 Task Force on Racial Disparities, Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, released an interim report detailing the significant progress Michigan has made in protecting communities of color from the spread of COVID-19.
“From the beginning, our administration has listened to medical experts and taken a fact-based approach to eliminating COVID-19 in our most vulnerable communities, and we have seen significant progress,” said Whitmer. “Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist and the leaders on the Task Force have been crucial in helping us dramatically reduce the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in communities of color by expanding testing and providing crucial support to community organizations. Our work is far from over, and cases and hospitalizations are still rising statewide, but this team remains dedicated to working with medical experts and protecting our communities, frontline workers, and small businesses. Our immediate focus now is holding our progress, flattening the infection curve, and remaining vigilant with mask wearing and social distancing.”
The Task Force’s interim report details a number of actions the state has taken to protect communities of color, frontline workers, and small businesses from the spread of COVID-19.
The governor said, as of Nov. 16, more than 24,000 tests have been administered in previously underserved communities across 21 Neighborhood Testing sites.
These state-operated sites provide COVID-19 testing on a consistent schedule, several days per week. All sites offer free testing, and a prescription is not required for someone to be tested, nor is any form of ID required.
From March and April to September and October, the average cases per million per day for African American Michiganders dropped from 176 to 59. In the same period, the number of probable deaths per million per day among African American Michiganders dropped significantly – from 21.7 to 1.
Gilchrist said the coronavirus pandemic has “shined a light on the health, economic, and educational challenges that communities of color face daily.”
“(Thursday’s) report shows that significant progress has been made toward our goal to reduce these disparities over the past six months. But as cases continue to rise, we need to recognize that our work is not done because each of us have a role to play to make sure that we defeat this virus,” said Gilchrist. “When we successfully make it to the other side of this pandemic, we will hug each other a little tighter, check in on each other a little more, and be proud of the work we did to make each other’s lives better.”
NEXT STEPS FOR THE TASK FORCE
In order to sustain the progress made and to better address ongoing disparities, the Task Force will continue working around the clock to protect the most vulnerable communities.
The Task Force has identified a number of areas to focus on heading into the holiday season and the cold winter months, including:
- Closing the digital divide in telehealth and virtual learning to ensure equitable access for all Michiganders;
- Increasing enrollment in health insurance plans by making it easy for Michiganders to find out about their options for affordable care, such as Medicaid and federal marketplace plans;
- Building mobile testing infrastructure that can also be extended for other health services such as vaccine administration;
- And raising awareness of racial- and ethnic disparities in medical care to ensure that every Michigander, no matter their race, can get safe and quality care in Michigan.
“We are still seeing a slight decline in the rate of new cases over the past 13 days. But, our case rates remain alarmingly high,” said Khaldun.
Rates in Michigan are five times than what the state saw at the beginning of October.
Every area in the state has a case rate of over 450 cases per million people per day. The case positivity rate ranges from 8.5 percent in the Upper Peninsula to 15 percent in the Kalamazoo area.
Khaldun says hospitals are still working hard to be able to take care of COVID and non-COVID patients, but “many are near or at capacity.”
81 percent of hospital ICU beds are full Khaldun said.
The department is still identifying many outbreaks across the state. The top categories for identified outbreaks are:
- Longterm care facilities
- K-12 schools
- Manufacturing health care
- Office settings
- Restaurants and bars
“We continue to work with our local health departments on reaching out to positive cases and identify their contacts and potential outbreaks,” she said.
However at the current state, Khaldun says state and local workers are unable to keep up, causing outbreak data to be limited.
Khaldun also shared important information about quarantine.
The CDC has recommended the quarantine period should be 14 days. This week, the CDC released new data indicating that 99 percent of cases will become infectious within 10 days of exposure or developed symptoms. Based on the new data, the CDC has offered an option for how to potentially shorten the quarantine period in certain circumstances.
14 days still remains the standard for quarantine and is the safest way to know you will not develop an infection after exposure to COVID-19, local and state public health staff will now have the option to allow people who have not developed symptoms during the 10 days after an exposure to be released from quarantine.
“With this new quarantine option, people should still remain vigilant by checking for symptoms daily for the entire 14 days after exposure and they should still continue to do important things like wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus,” Khaldun said.
The chief medical executive says this is great news and means “while we all still have to remain careful, people can get back to their daily lives, work and school more quickly after being exposed.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 6,955 coronavirus cases in the state and an additional 81 deaths Wednesday.
This brought the state total of COVID-19 cases to 373,197 and 9,405 deaths as of Dec. 2.
December 1 Press Conference
The governor proposed a $100 million COVID-19 relief plan for legislators to approve when they returned to session Tuesday.
In her letter, Whitmer wrote, “Michigan families are hurting, and while we must continue to advocate for meaningful support from the federal government, we simply cannot afford to wait.”
The governor also asked lawmakers to pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits. At the end of the year, approved bills from October lengthening state unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks, will expire.
On Monday, city leaders called for state legislative actions they said would help prevent cuts to vital services such as police and fire protection, without requiring a state handout, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The Michigan Strategic Fund approved $10 million in grant funding to provide support to small businesses across Michigan that have been impacted by COVID-19.
The governor said applications will open for eligible businesses beginning Dec. 15.
To qualify for grant support, businesses must meet a number of criteria, including but not limited to:
- Being a business in one of the targeted industries;
- Identifying a need for payroll, rent, or mortgage payments, and/or utility expenses necessary to continue or restart business operations;
- Having at least two employees (including the owner) but fewer than 50;
- Additional eligibility requirements can be found on Michiganbusiness.org/relief.
Michigan reported 35 new coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan schools Monday. The highest outbreak was reported from Northern Michigan University with 10 cases among the university’s hockey team.
- Overall, Michigan’s case rate is now at 608 cases per million people and has been declining for the past week.
- All regions in the state have seen a decline in cases over the past seven to 15 days.
- Case rates remain above 500 cases per million people for all areas of the state except for the Traverse City region.
- Test positivity is showing slight improvements with positivity rates declining as well over the past week. Test positivity is now at 13 percent and is down from 14 percent on Nov. 16. Khaldun says it is still higher than the department would like it to be.
At the beginning of November, Khaldun says more people were wearing masks, not gathering and maintaining social distancing.
“We think that is contributing to the decrease in our rate of rise in cases. We will continue to watch these trends as we have throughout the pandemic and case rates and test positivity, and especially looking for those increases from the Thanksgiving holiday,” she said.
“If you did gather or travel during Thanksgiving, you should really make sure you’re trying to stay away from others as much as possible for 14 days after you traveled,” she said.
As for healthcare systems, Michigan still has about 20 percent of in patient beds filled with COVID-19 patients. Khaldun says, overall there are about 4,200 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.
November 19 Press Conference
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.
- 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.
November 15 Press Conference
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a new emergency order today that enacts a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates.
Indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at one time. The idea is to limit residential and non-residential gatherings where COVID-19 spreads rapidly.
Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery only.
Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place.
Casinos, movie theaters, and group exercise classes will be closed.
Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, however, all other organized sports must stop.
Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning but must end in-person classes.
“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus.”
Monday’s order, which takes effect Wednesday, Nov. 18. The order leaves open work that cannot be performed from home, including for manufacturing, construction, and health occupations.
Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining, and parks remain open.
Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.
Fewer outbreaks have been seen in elementary and middle schools, and younger children are most in need of in-person instruction.
In-person K-8 schooling may continue if it can be done with strong mitigation, including mask requirements, based on discussion between local health and school officials.
Childcare also remains open to support working parents. Throughout this crisis, Michigan’s teachers and childcare workers have served on the front lines ensuring support for working parents and educating our children.
Governor Whitmer’s administration has worked around the clock to protect Michigan’s teachers and childcare workers and the other heroes serving on the front lines of the pandemic.
November 12 Press Conference
In Michigan, more than 3,000 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus and the rate is doubling every two week according to hospital leaders who are calling it “very serious” and an “accelerating trend.”
The governor said asked Michiganders to do their part in flattening the curve was to not overwhelm hospitals, keep people safe and save lives.
“Sadly Covid-19 is not done with us yet. It doesn’t care if we are tired of it or are angry or weary. This enemy is relentless and now the second wave of Covid-19 is hitting us and it’s hitting us hard,” said Whitmer.
Whitmer said Michigan is now in the “worst part” of the pandemic and this is the moment medical experts have been warning us about.
According to the governor, hospitals are nearing capacity and they are “burning through PPE.”
- There are 200,000+ cases of Covid-19 in Michigan
- There are 100,000+ new cases every day in the U.S.
- There are 1,000+ deaths each day in the U.S.
“We’re facing a 9/11 every three days. No one is safe from this virus,” said Whitmer, who added that youth, fame and wealth will not protect people from Covid-19.
Here’s what Whitmer said Michiganders needs to do all of these to stay safe:
- Wear a mask.
- Practice safe physical distancing.
- Wash hand frequently.
- Get a flu shot.
“Just because you’re allowed to do something, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it is a smart thing to do,” said Whitmer.
Here are more updates from the governor:
- Covid-19 hospitalization are up 5-fold over the course of the last five weeks in their hospitals.
- The number of covid patients in hospitals across Michigan is expected to double in just two weeks to a new all-time high.
- The governor said when healthcare leaders from every corner of the state join to publicly make a plea for decisive action, everyone should listen.
- Right now rural Michigan is getting hit the hardest and is spreading rapidly everywhere.
- Medical experts across the country have strongly recommended families do not host thanksgiving with people from outside of their households.
The governor also provided common mistakes people are making during the pandemic:
- Attending many small gatherings with people you know.
- Not quarantining for two weeks once exposed.
- Getting tested too soon after exposure.
- Assuming friends and family are as careful as you are.
- Assuming that because something is allowed it must be safe.
- Assuming that taking just one precaution will keep you safe.
Khaldun says the virus is “out of control” and urged people not to travel for the holidays.
Michigan’s overall case rate is at 416 cases per million people per day. During the Nov. 5 press conference, Michigan’s overall case rate was 261 cases per million people per day. The state’s positivity rate is now at 10.8 percent. Back in September, the state’s positivity rate was 3.7 percent.
“There’s no area of the state that is spared,” said Khaldun.
- UP, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Saginaw Regions: have case rates between 497 and 653 cases per million people per day.
- Jackson, Detroit and Lansing Regions: have case rates in the 300s per million people per day.
- Traverse City Region: has the lowest case rate at 278 per million people per day.
“To be clear, this is very concerning, because unlike in the spring, when only those who were very ill could obtain a test, now anyone who wants a test can get a test,” said Khaldun.
There have been over 45,000 diagnostic tests per day, which is the fifth largest total number of tests for any state in the country.
On Thursday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 6,940 coronavirus cases in the state and an additional 45 deaths. This brought the state’s total of Covid-19 cases to 236,225 and 7,811 deaths.
To watch the governor’s full press conference, click here.
Nov. 5 Press Conference Updates
Whitmer began by congratulating Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and candidates from Michigan on their victories in the general election.
“On behalf of the people of Michigan, I want to congratulate Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Senator Gary Peters, Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, and Justice-Elect Elizabeth Welch on their victories. This was a hard-fought election on both sides, shattering the record for the most votes cast in the history of our state, with more than 5.1 million votes and over 3.2 absentee ballots cast,” the governor said.
Whitmer said the people have spoken, and with the election behind us, now is the time for our nation to come together.
“We have a common enemy, and it is Covid-19, not one another. This pandemic has ravaged our state, infecting more than 190,000 people and taking the lives of more than 7,400 Michiganders. As governor, I’m ready to work with the president and our state legislature on areas where we can find common ground to keep our state safe. I remain firmly committed to doing everything we can to slow the spread of this deadly virus, so we can protect the health and safety of our families, our frontline workers, our seniors, and our small businesses. Let’s all mask up, Michigan, and let’s get through this together,” said Whitmer.
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- Fighting this virus has always been a team sport, one that requires leaders from both sides of the aisle to work together to keep Michiganders safe.
- Whitmer sent a letter to Republican legislative leaders urging them to pass legislation requiring all Michiganders to wear masks in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor areas.
- Wearing a mask protects families, frontline workers and most vulnerable members of society.
- If the legislature is serious about fighting this virus and saving lives, they’ll start by passing the most important life-saving rule of all: weak a mask.
- Families, frontline workers, small businesses and communities across the country are awaiting much-needed action from the federal government.
- Whitmer said Michigan needs the president and Mitch McConnel to work across the aisle to pass a bipartisan relief package that includes:
- Help for unemployed workers.
- Support for Michigan’s small businesses and women and minority-owned businesses.
- More resources to safely reopen Michigan’s schools.
- Increased testing and PPE supplies to keep people safe.
- State and local aid.
- Her administration is continuing to take action to protect Michigan workers as cases ramp up and the state continues to fight the virus.
- MIOSHA is increasing its scrutiny on the remote work policies established by Michigan businesses, primarily those in offices.
- Employers must create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.
- It’s time to double down on mask wearing and safe physical distancing.
- As Michiganders head into Thanksgiving follow the guidance issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
- Get together outside whenever possible. You have up to 20 times higher risk of getting sick inside.
- If you do get together inside, include no more than two households and 10 people.
- Wash hands regularly and try not to share utensils.
- Wear a mask, take it off when you eat or drink, then put it back on.
- Keep six feet apart as much as you can.
- When possible, keep voices down; high volume can increase Covid transmission by 30 times.
Khaldun says it’s very concerning what the DHHS is seeing across the state. Michigan’s overall case rate is at 261 cases per million people per day. The state is seeing more than five times the number of cases now than in early September. In September, Michigan’s overall case rate was around 57 cases per million people per day. In September, the state’s positivity rate was 3.7 percent (of tests coming back positive). Khaldun says this is an indication there is community spread across the state.
There have been 43,000 diagnostic tests per day over the past week. The state’s positivity rate however is at 7.5 percent (of tests coming back positive) and the rate has been increasing for the past five weeks, according to Khaldun.
- UP Region: has the highest case rate at 509 cases per million people per day. This rate has been increasing for nine weeks straight, Khaldun says.
- Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo Regions: have 370 and 331 cases per million people per day. Both regions have the highest test positivity rate in the state at over nine percent.
- Detroit, Lansing, Saginaw and Traverse City Regions: have over 200 cases per million people per day and a between 5.5-7.7 percent positivity rate.
- Jackson Region: has the lowest case rate at 193 cases per million people per day and the lowest positivity rate at 4.1 percent.
In every region across the state, hospitalizations are increasing and as of Nov. 4 more than 1,900 people were hospitalized for Covid-19.
“That’s almost four times more than we saw at the end of August,” said Khaldun.
She also said if the state continues at the rate it is going with the coronavirus, Michigan could see “up to 100 deaths a day by the end of December.”
The local health departments are investigating over 590 outbreaks across the state, which is the largest number of outbreaks since the beginning of tracking investigations.
Here are some examples of outbreaks from Khaldun:
- A family attended a birthday party which resulted in six cases
- A wedding in the fall resulted in 13 new coronavirus cases
- There have been outbreaks at recreational facilities
- A high school sleepover
- A high school banquet
- There have been multiple outbreaks associated with both K-12 and college sports teams
- There have been multiple outbreaks associated with funerals
- Outbreaks have also impacted workplaces
- This includes office buildings, assembly plants, manufacturing and a grocery store
“Employers that can have their employees work from home right now, should be doing that. This means most office work and for those companies that really must have their employees come to work, they should be making those work places as safe as possible, and enforcing physical distancing and mask requirements,” said Khaldun.
Oct. 21 Press Conference Updates
Here’s the governor’s updates:
- Whitmer urged Michiganders to vote early and turn in their ballots by hand delivering it to their local clerk’s office.
To my fellow Michiganders, if you have an absentee ballot, don’t toss it in the mail because we are getting too close to the election. You should drop it off at one of the many drop boxes or your clerk’s office now! #VOTE https://t.co/9bmpPXDsCv pic.twitter.com/IpHdgjBx6K
— Gretchen Whitmer (@gretchenwhitmer) October 21, 2020
- Whitmer says Michigan is now at its “peak when it comes to daily new cases.” The state has also seen a steady rise in hospitalizations.
- This peak is higher than the peak Michigan saw in April.
“Our cases per million have been on the rise” the governor said since the Supreme Court made their ruling.
The Supreme Court ruled that Whitmer lacks the power to issue executive orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic without consent from the Legislature.
“I want you to know that I’m going to use every tool at my disposal to keep you and your family safe,” she said.
- Last Friday, Whitmer signed a set of emergency rules from the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity that secure protections for Michigan workers.
- On Monday, Whitmer signed bipartisan bills codifying her executive order that extends unemployment benefits for Michiganders who have lost work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of the year.
- Michigan’s Small Business Relief Program awarded $10 million in grants and nearly $10 million in loans to small businesses in all 83 counties in the state.
- Michigan’s Small Business Restart Grants provided $100 million in federal funding for small business relief grants.
- A total of 177 farms and 159 food processors have been awarded $15 million in Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants to mitigate risks of the Covid-19 virus across the state’s food production industry.
Khaldun says Michigan’s overall case rate is at 131 cases per million people per day. In September, Michigan’s overall case rate was around 57 cases per million people per day. The state’s positivity rate is at 4.9 percent (of tests coming back positive). In September, the state’s positivity rate was 3.7 percent (of tests coming back positive). Khaldun says this is an indication there is community spread across the state.
- UP Region: has 337 cases per million people per day and a 9.3 percent positivity rate for tests.
- Kalamazoo Region: has 211 cases per million people per day and a 6.7 percent positivity rate for tests.
- Grand Rapids Region: has 155 cases per million people per day and a 4.6 percent positivity rate for tests.
- Detroit, Saginaw, Lansing and Jackson Regions: have more than 70, but less than 150 cases per million people per day and a 2.6-4.4 percent positivity rate for tests.
- Traverse City Region: remains the region with the lowest rate of 62 cases per million people per day and a 3 percent positivity rate for tests.
Khaldun says local health departments are investigating 393 outbreaks across the state.
“That number continues to grow every week. Top categories for outbreaks remain at long-term care facilities, educational settings and social gatherings,” she said.
Khaldun says the health department is now seeing a lot of outbreaks associated with religious gatherings. There are now 18 new and ongoing outbreaks that local health departments are investigating in this setting.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 1,586 coronavirus cases in the state and an additional 22 deaths Tuesday.
This brings the state total of COVID-19 cases to 149,392 and 7,053 deaths as of Oct. 20.
In the state as of Oct. 17, there has been a total of 109,539 recovered cases of Covid-19.Michigan Reports 7,955 New COVID-19 Cases, 33 Deaths Wednesday