GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — 153 more people died of coronavirus in Michigan, bringing the total to 1,921, the latest figures from the state show.
An additional 1,058 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, according to data released Wednesday, bringing the total to 28,059. Daily increases have been lower in the last few days than we saw in previous weeks.
During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the wide-ranging social distancing measures she has ordered are helping “flatten the curve” — limit the spread of the virus and therefore the number of severe cases.
“Our work is paying off, so let’s keep working together to protect our families, our front-line health care professionals and the dedicated workers in our grocery stores, and child care workers, educators and everyone who’s chipping in to help us,” she said.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said the state was “optimistic” about slowing in the growth rates of cases and hospitalizations.
“However, a plateau does not mean that we are out of the woods,” she said.
She noted that it’s too soon to say we should ease up on social distancing and that doing so too abruptly would cause a second spike.
“As tough as this is right now, we know we don’t want to go through this again,” the governor said. “It’s so important that states and regions and the country as a whole get this right because getting it right saves lives and it will be better for our country in the long run.”
The worst of the outbreak is concentrated in and around Detroit. Wayne County alone has 12,544 confirmed cases (335 more than the previous day) and 884 people have died (64 more than the previous day). Oakland County has a total of 5,576 cases and 392 deaths. Macomb County has 3,792 cases and 330 deaths.
Genesee County, where Flint is, has 1,084 confirmed cases and 89 deaths.
Within the Michigan Department of Corrections, 472 cases have been confirmed and 12 inmates have died after getting the virus.
Kent County saw two more deaths, bringing the total to 16. There are 354 confirmed cases. Nine of those deaths have been patients of the Metron of Cedar Springs nursing home, where 31 residents and five workers were infected.
On Wednesday, Whitmer signed another executive order she said is aimed at preventing similar clusters at long-term care facilities. Under it, the state will work with those facilities to create “regional hubs” that will treat patients with increased needs. The order also requires such facilities to inform employees and residents if a resident develops COVID-19 symptoms, isolate the patients and take precautions to prevent further transmission of the illness. The order prohibits the eviction of residents or discipline of employees who stay home if they have symptoms.
There were no additional deaths in Calhoun, Kalamazoo or Ottawa counties. Those counties had 104, 103 and 74 confirmed cases, respectively.
COVID-19 presents with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most who contract it, symptoms are mild. Though anyone can get it and anyone can develop a serious case, the people most at risk to develop severe complications are the elderly and those with preexisting health problems.
If you think you have coronavirus, call your health care provider. Unless you are in need of emergency help, do not go to the emergency room. Get advice from a doctor over the phone or a televisit and they will direct you on how to get tested. Testing has been expanded to include even those with mild symptoms.
“We want anyone who needs a test to get it done, no matter where they live in this state, so please seek out a test if you have symptoms,” Dr. Khaldun said.
On Sunday, the most recent day for which data is available, labs in Michigan tested about 3,400 samples for coronavirus; about 30% came back positive. The state also ran between 3,000 and 4,000 tests daily on the previous three days, with between 28% and 31% coming back positive.
Michigan is under a stay-at-home order through April 30. Under that order, you should only go out for an essential errand, like grocery shopping or going to the pharmacy, or if you are an essential service worker. The goal of that and other social distancing measures is to keep the number of severe cases at hospitals manageable.
So far, even in metro Detroit, there are enough beds and ventilators to treat everyone. Khaldun said the greatest need now is for more health care providers to help. Doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists can sign up at Michigan.gov/FightCOVID19.
In Lansing Wednesday, protesters in their cars honked their horns and backed up traffic around the state Capitol. Others stood on the Capitol lawn and steps, holding signs that read things like “Free MI” and “My constitutional rights are essential.” The protesters argue that some of Whitmer’s executive orders are inconsistent and excessive. They want her to ease some of them so that people can get back to work.
Whitmer said she understood people’s frustrations but that her decisions were based on the best interest of public health and that she would not be reconsidering them.