Michigan COVID-19 cases at 25; restrictions in place & hotline launched

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Friday evening, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued restrictions on entry into health care, residential care, congregate care and juvenile justice facilities.

Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, those facilities must not have any visitors that are not necessary for medical care, support of daily activities like eating or bathing and are not visiting under exigent circumstances.

Whitmer’s executive order says those places must assess for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors for everyone not under their care who want to come inside by Monday morning.

These restrictions will be in place until 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 5. Until then, the order encourages the affected facilities to use online platforms to facilitate visitations with individuals under their care.  

In a separate directive, public bodies, such as boards, commissions and councils, must consider postponing public meetings that can be held later.

Public bodies must also follow the Open Meetings Act, which includes adequate notice of the meeting. Whitmer said bodies could still have meetings remotely if the public can participate.

“We are taking every measure we can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect Michigan families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This is a hard time for families, and we will continue to put their health and safety first when making these decisions. During this crisis, we must ensure that state meetings remain open and accessible to the public. I also want to remind everyone to continue doing everything they can at an individual level to protect themselves and their families, like washing their hands and practicing social distancing. We will get through this together.” 

State officials announced there were 25 confirmed cases, 13 more than recorded Thursday. The 13 new cases include:

  • A Bay County man with history domestic travel.
  • A Charlevoix County woman with a history of international travel.
  • A Detroit woman with a history of international travel.
  • A Detroit woman with unknown travel history.
  • A Macomb County man with a history of international travel.
  • Two women and Oakland County man, one with history of international travel two with unknown travel history.
  • Two Wayne County women, one with history of domestic and the other with no history of travel. 
  • A man from Washtenaw County with history of international travel.
  • A woman from Wayne County with history of contact with a confirmed case.
  • A man for whom no information was immediately available. The Kent County Health Department said the case was not in Kent County.

>>Online: MDHHS on coronavirus

Earlier Friday, Whitmer issued a ban on all events and gatherings of more than 250 people. Her executive order said large gatherings will be banned starting at 5 p.m. Friday until 5 p.m. April 5. Exempted are those in industrial or manufacturing work, mass transit, and the purchase of groceries and consumer goods.

Whitmer decided Thursday night to close all K-12 schools in the state staring Monday through April 5, which the executive order enforces. The decision affects more than 1.5 million students. Child care facilities can stay open.

“Prohibiting large assemblages is the smart thing to do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a statement. “It’s crucial that everyone in Michigan follow these orders and make smart choices that will slow the spread of the virus, including practicing good hygiene and social distancing. We will continue to work with the governor and our partners across state government to protect Michigan families and businesses.” 

MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE LIMITING SERVICES

In a bid to reduce crowding and prevent the potential of spreading the virus, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Friday that for the next three weeks, she is limiting operations at branch offices to only three critical services that must be completed in person:

  • Getting a new driver’s license or state identification card,
  • Title transfers,
  • Testing for an original commercial driver’s license, chauffeur’s license, mechanic’s license, motorcycle license or recreational vehicle license.

Anyone needs to complete one of those types of transactions must call ahead to make an appointment. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday hours for those appointments are being extended to 8 a.m. for 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will be no Saturday service.

People who have already made an appointment for a noncritical service are asked to please cancel and reschedule for later. She urged people to go online or use mail or self-service kiosks instead. Part of making online and kiosk transactions easier will be lifting the requirement that you prove insurance to renew your driver’s license.

Benson said the plan was made to balance public safety with the economic necessity of her office and people’s daily need to drive.

WHERE CORONAVIRUS STANDS NOW

Gov. Whitmer declared a state of emergency Tuesday after the state’s first two cases were confirmed. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday.

Among the 25 cases in Michigan, all of which were confirmed this week, are three in Kent County and one on Montcalm County.

On Saturday, the Kent County Health Department said it has received 20 negative tests back. Three of the tests came back positive. Officials are still waiting on the results from 39 tests.

Officials are encouraging people to donate to Kids Food Basket.

The Mid-Michigan District Health Department, which covers Montcalm County, said the patient in that area recently returned from traveling internationally to a country that the Centers for Disease Control had warned against going to. There isn’t any known community exposure.

“The individual did travel internationally, has been under quarantine since returning home as advised and developed symptoms after arriving back home,” Dr. Jennifer Morse of the health department said. “So we are keeping her at home until she improves.”

She said it’s a presumptive case, which means it still needs to go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation.

The Greenville Daily News reports the Montcalm County patient, a woman in her 60s, had traveled to southern Italy with her husband and believes she was exposed on her flight. Both she and her husband were tested at a local hospital and while she tested positive for coronavirus, her husband, although he had symptoms, did not. She is under quarantine for two weeks.

The other patients are from the central and southeast regions of the state, though one did visit West Michigan. Health officials released a list of places that person went.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Tracking coronavirus

The state has advised people to follow common-sense practices for slowing the spread of the illness, primarily 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. Health officials also stressed you should stay home when you’re sick. When in public, you should avoid shaking hands or standing too close to others.

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

If you think you’ve been exposed to coronavirus, call your health care provider. Unless you are in need of emergency help, you may not want to go directly to the emergency room so as to limit the spread of the illness. Get advice from a doctor over the phone or a televisit before going in.

Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids is offering free telescreenings for coronavirus for anyone in the state.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has launched a statewide hotline to respond to health-related questions about COVID-19. The hotline will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 888.535.6136.

—News 8’s Donovan Long contributed to this report.

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