More cases and deaths; Whitmer says staying at home not optional

Coronavirus

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — As the number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Michigan jumped to 60 Wednesday and the number of confirmed cases nearly reached 2,900, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reminded residents that her stay-at-home order is not optional.

The coronavirus tests run Wednesday, the results of which were released Thursday afternoon, brought the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 2,856, more than 500 than recorded the day prior.

The majority of the deaths have happened in metro Detroit: 26 were in Wayne County (including the city of Detroit),  15 were in Oakland County and 11 were in Macomb County.

Metro Detroit also has the largest concentration of confirmed cases:

  • Wayne County (including Detroit): 1,389
  • Oakland County: 668
  • Macomb County: 347

Washtenaw County has 92 cases. Kent County’s number of confirmed cases hit 41 with Wednesday’s tests and Ottawa County’s reached 18.

On Thursday, the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department announced its first positive case of COVID-19 in Cass County. In Ionia County, the health department recorded its second confirmed case.

As of Thursday afternoon, the state said it had run 11,886 samples; 9,162 had come back negative and 2,616 positive.

The number of confirmed cases does not equal the number of people with COVID-19 because some people needed more than one test. In addition, the total specimens tested do not equal the total patients tested.

Out of the confirmed cases, 51% were male and 49% were female. About 44% of people who have tested positive have been 60 or older. About 20% of the cases have been under the age of 40.

According to data compiled by NBC News from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state officials, Michigan has the sixth highest number of deaths linked to coronavirus in the country and the fifth highest number of confirmed cases.

COVID-19 presents with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most who contract it, symptoms are mild. The people most at risk to develop severe complications are the elderly and those with preexisting health problems.

SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN HOSPITALS AT CAPACITY

“We’re still in the up slope of the spread,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said at a Thursday press conference in Lansing alongside the governor.

Khaldun said hospitals in southeast Michigan are at or near capacity, their intensive care units and emergency departments full.

“Hospitals outside of southeast Michigan are being asked to serve as relief hospitals, offering 10% of their usual bed capacity to accept patients from other hospitals that are currently overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients,” Khaldun continued. “We already have hospitals that are stepping up to serve as relief hospitals starting this process.”

She did not specify which hospitals those were.

Holland Hospital, Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo and Metro Health-University of Michigan Health all told News 8 later Thursday that they do not intend to bring in patients from elsewhere in the state.

“Our hospital leadership met this afternoon and we are not able to support hospitals on the east side of the state during their current COVID-19 surge,” Metro Health said in a statement. “We are focusing on our own internal operations to ensure that we are in the best position to meet the needs of our current patients and those were are expecting in the weeks to come.”

“Bronson’s four hospitals are prepared to take COVID-19 patients from southwest Michigan, which is our designated service area. There are no plans at this time to admit patients from elsewhere in the state,” Bronson stated in a statement.

“There are no plans at this time to admit patients from elsewhere in the state,” Holland Hospital added.

Spectrum Health declined to comment.

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids said it is taking rehab patients from southeast Michigan to free up beds where they are most needed.

Spectrum Health, which had already canceled all elective procedures and appointments, on Thursday closed walk-in clinics in West Michigan. It asked patients to link up with doctors virtually for an assessment.

STAY-AT-HOME ORDER ‘NOT OPTIONAL’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told residents that her stay-at-home order is “not optional, it’s not a recommendation.”

On Monday, Whitmer ordered Michigan residents to stay home for at least three weeks to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“If we don’t all do our part, more people are going to get sick and more people are going to die,” Whitmer said.

The stay-at-home order means people should not go out unless they are fulfilling an essential errand, like getting food, or if they are designated an essential worker.

“If you’re not a life-sustaining business, you’re in violation of the law and needlessly exposing your employees to COVID-19. You’re needlessly endangering our communities,” Whitmer said. “I would encourage any business that is not sure to probably assume that they’re not.”

She added businesses like florists, landscaping or home construction should not be considered life sustaining and should not be open during the executive order.

Additionally, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says burn permits are being suspended across the state under the stay-at-home order, the goal being to make sure emergency services will be free and keep firefighters separated.

TRACKING CORONAVIRUS:

NEED FOR MEDICAL SUPPLIES

Whitmer said Thursday that a major disaster declaration has been sent to President Donald Trump.

She said it will help support Michigan residents through the coronavirus pandemic. If granted in full, the declaration will help provide meals, rental assistance, temporary housing for families among other things.

Whitmer said the state had secured the following items amid the shortage of personal protection equipment for medical staff :

  • 13 million N95 masks
  • 226,000 surgical masks
  • 35,000 hospital gowns
  • More than 4 million gloves
  • Nearly 100,000 face shields
  • 250 hospital beds
  • Thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer

Even with the additional supplies, Whitmer said hospitals are still in need of items. She asked on residents and businesses to donate the most needed items to hospitals.

Donations can be directed to the Michigan Community Service Commission at COVID19donations@michigan.gov or 517.335.4295.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Lists of supplies needed most at West Michigan hospitals

Whitmer said residents can help by donating to food banks, donating blood through the Red Cross or calling 211 to see what is needed. She asked Michiganders to use the hashtag #DoingMIPart to show how they are trying to stop the spread of COVID-19

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