MI records 111 COVID-19 deaths; water to be reconnected to homes

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — On Saturday, Michigan saw a single-day jump of 993 new COVID-19 cases reported and 19 new deaths. In addition, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made moves to make sure every home had water service.

The tests run Friday, the results of which were released Saturday, brought the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 4,650 with 111 deaths.

The largest concentration of cases is still in southeast Michigan. Wayne County (including Detroit), has 2,316 confirmed cases and 46 deaths; Oakland County has 1,018 cases and 31 deaths; and Macomb County 534 cases and 17 deaths.

The dead range in age from 36 to 97, but the average age is 68. Sixty-eight percent of those killed were men and 31% women. In 1% of those deadly cases, the sex was not reported to the state.

The Allegan County Health Department confirmed its second positive confirmed case in Allegan County. Oceana County has also confirmed its second positive case.

Kent County has confirmed 53 cases, eight more than the day prior. Ottawa County has 23 confirmed cases, two more than the day before.

On Saturday, Spectrum Health decided to not staff its screening tents until Monday due to the weather. The National Weather Service was forecasting wind gusts of 40-50 mph throughout Sunday.

These tents only do screenings, and staff does not do testing there. People with serious symptoms should call Spectrum’s hotline at 616.391.2380.

Whitmer orders homes to be reconnected to water

Whitmer issued an executive order Saturday requiring communities statewide to restore water service, effectively ending water shutoffs for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state has also established a $2 million fund through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to help provide funding to local communities to help reconnect homes to their water supplies.

Water shutoffs have been a hot-button issue in the state and especially in its largest city, Detroit, where more than 127,000 have been performed since 2014.

“This is a critical step both for the health of families living without a reliable water source, and for slowing the spread of the coronavirus,” Whitmer said. “We continue to work to provide all Michiganders – regardless of their geography or income level – the tools they need to keep themselves and their communities protected.”

The order is effective for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

The order comes one day after The Associated Press reported water shutoffs across the nation were back in the spotlight amid the outbreak. Water advocates and elected officials have long argued that it’s impossible for families to follow the hygienic coronavirus standards outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization when they don’t have water in their homes.

Officials say they are targeting high-risk areas. Here are the requirements:

  • A preliminary spending plan that includes the estimated number of homes to be reconnected and the estimated average cost per home.
  • If lead lines are replaced as part of the reconnection, the entire line must be replaced. 
  • EGLE will reimburse up to $5,000 for reconnection, line replacement, and restoration per home. EGLE must authorize any exceptions. 
  • The community must assure that the plumbers conduct appropriate flushing and provide communication to residents on the importance of flushing and the use of filters if needed.   
  • A 25% local match is required. 
  • Grant funds will be reimbursed once the state receives proper documentation.

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.

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.

Health officials have noted that the number of test kits available is limited. Not everyone displaying symptoms is going to get tested. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said as recently as Monday that not enough testing has been done to get a clear scope of the spread of the illness.

Whitmer has ordered Michigan residents to stay at home unless they must leave to go grocery shopping or unless they are an essential service worker. If you’re sick, you shouldn’t leave the house at all. Restaurants are allow only to offer drive-thru, carry-out or delivery. The goal is to keep the number of severe cases small enough that hospitals can handle them.

Other than following social distancing guidelines, you should keep following common-sense health practices, like washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, coughing into your arm or a tissue rather than your hands and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.

**Editor’s note: A previous version of this story included a graphic that included incorrect data about the number of deaths in the U.S. We have removed the graphic. We regret the error.

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