DETROIT (AP) — Michigan is sending half of the 400 ventilators it received from the federal government to Detroit-area hospitals facing a surge of coronavirus patients, a state health department official said Wednesday.

The remaining 200 breathing machines will be set aside for seven regions across the state that have fewer COVID-19 patients at this time, said Lynn Sutfin, an agency spokeswoman.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has identified ventilators as a critical need.

Hospitals in Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair counties are due to get 100 ventilators. Another 100 will go to hospitals in Wayne, Washtenaw and Monroe counties.

Residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb account for 81% of Michigan’s roughly 7,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Nearly 150 prisoners and 25 staff members have tested positive at various sites, the state Corrections Department said.


Henry Ford Health System reported that it had nearly 600 COVID-19 patients at its five hospitals in southeastern Michigan as of Wednesday morning. It also said a 58-year-old woman with the virus developed a rare form of encephalitis — acute necrotizing encephalitis — a central nervous infection that mostly afflicts children.

Dr. Elissa Fory, a Henry Ford neurologist, said all hospitals need to be aware.

“This complication is as devastating as severe lung disease,” Fory said.


Whitmer said construction projects on state roads will continue as long as contractors think it’s safe. A trade group, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, had asked her to deem the work as nonessential. There will be no penalties if work is delayed due to COVID-19 safety measures and smaller crews. Contractors can request that a project be suspended.


Federal agents pledged to investigate the hoarding of critical medical goods, including face masks, gloves and gowns. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said he’ll pursue people stashing more than needed or those “trying to rip off” the public by selling products at excessive rates.


The response to the coronavirus outbreak has been a challenge for government at the state and national level. So how well are the entities actually working together?

The assessment from U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, was not encouraging.

“I wish I could say yes. But I just got off the phone with the regional director from FEMA. … and once again we have a situation where every single governor is competing against each other. We now have hospitals competing. Still we can’t get straight answers,” Stabenow told News 8 Wednesday. “One of the things that I couldn’t get an answer on today that’s deeply concerning to me is that it has become now public that we have American suppliers with critical medical supplies that we need and across the country that now are selling them to the highest bidder internationally.”

Stabenow, Michigan’s senior senator, said that the state’s entire congressional caucus is working with in-state manufacturers and vendors to find or make the items we will need in increasing numbers in the next few weeks.

—News 8 political reporter Rick Albin contributed to this report.