110 more COVID-19 deaths; Whitmer urges wearing cloth masks

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — 110 more people have died of coronavirus in Michigan, state data shows, by far the largest one-day increase in deaths the state has seen to date.

Previously, Michigan’s highest one-day increase in deaths was 80.

The dead now number 727 in all. They range in age from 20 to 107, but have an average age of about 72. More than a third of those who died were older than 80. About 59% were men and about 41% women.

Additionally, 1,503 more COVID-19 cases were confirmed Sunday, according to data released Monday, bringing the total to 17,221. The daily increase in confirmed cases has remained relatively steady for three days.

In Michigan, the outbreak is still the worst in and around Detroit. Wayne County, including the city, has recorded 8,270 cases and 346 deaths; Oakland County has 3,380 cases and 185 deaths; and Macomb County 2,159 cases and 100 deaths. Genesee County has 568 cases and 26 deaths and Washtenaw County 539 cases and 10 deaths.

During a news briefing Monday morning, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Detroit-area hospitals are running “dangerously low” on personal protection equipment.

“We are making some progress but we need more (personal protection equipment) to continue fighting the virus,” Whitmer said.

Models are projecting the state’s outbreak won’t run its course until late April or early May.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” the state’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said during the morning press conference. “Our hospitals continue to be overwhelmed, especially in southeast Michigan.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is turning the TCF Center in downtown Detroit into a field hospital, though it has not yet served any patients.

The state also announced Monday that the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi will be turned in to a field hospital with 1,000 beds.

Kent County reported two new COVID-19 deaths Monday, bringing the total to five out of 177 confirmed cases.

Ionia County announced its first death linked to coronavirus, saying the patient was a man in his 70s and that he had underlying health conditions. That death is not yet included in the state total; it will be reflected in Tuesday’s update.

“We send our sincere condolences to the grieving family members and friends at this time,” Ionia County Health Officer Ken Bowen said in a Monday statement. “This is an unfortunate reminder of why people must practice social distancing. Not everyone who has COVID-19 will be sick. Distance yourself from others as if everyone has it. Be diligent with hand washing. Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.”

Ionia County has eight confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Berrien County has 60 confirmed cases: Branch County 15, Calhoun County 41 and Cass County seven. Each of those counties has one death. Kalamazoo County has 58 cases and three deaths and Muskegon County 33 cases and four deaths. Ottawa County has confirmed 44 cases; no one in that county has died.

The Michigan Department of Corrections has confirmed 241 cases; one prisoner has died.

Anyone can get coronavirus and anyone can develop a serious case, but nearly 60% of Michigan’s patients are older than 50.

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Michigan has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the nation, behind New York and New Jersey. Those are also the only states that have recorded more deaths than Michigan.

WHITMER: WEAR CLOTH FACE MASK WHEN OUT IN PUBLIC

On Monday, Whitmer urged people to wear some sort of face covering — even if you aren’t showing symptoms.

The governor recommended Michiganders wear a cloth mask or bandana when out in public to help protect themselves and avoid the spread of COVID-19. She added residents should not use N95 or surgical masks, which should be reserved for medical staff.

Even when wearing a mask, Whitmer said people should continue to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“Wearing a mask does not mean you’re immune and you don’t need to observe other guidelines. It’s just an added protection,” she said.

>>How to make a homemade mask

Khaldun reiterated Michigan must continue to follow the Stay Home, Stay Safe order to help combat the spread of the virus.

Under the stay-at-home order, people should only leave their homes to perform certain tasks. These include critical infrastructure work, engaging in outdoor activities or performing necessary errands, like going to the grocery store.

Whitmer said she plans to extend the stay-at-home order.

“We are looking at an additional order in regards to staying home and staying safe. So stay tuned,” the governor said.

NEW UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS OUTPACE GREAT RECESSION RATES

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer provides updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan on April 6, 2020.

Whitmer also addressed the flood of new unemployment claims — nearly 800,000 since mid-March — and the reports of many who are having difficulty even getting into the system.

She said the state has seen an unprecedented increase in unemployment claims since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, citing more people have applied for unemployment in the last two weeks than all of 2019.

From March 22 to March 28, 300,000 new unemployment claims were filed in Michigan. That’s up from about 5,000 per week before the outbreak.

The rate of new claims has outpaced even the worst week during the Great Recession.

In an effort to help more people file, the governor said the state is working to increase the capacity of the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s website.

“We have been completely inundated in our UIA system. We are quadrupling our efforts,” Whitmer said. “We will get to you.”

2ND STATE LEGISLATOR TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

After the news briefing, Whitmer confirmed that state Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Democrat from Detroit, tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the House Democratic Caucus, Whitsett did not attend the House’s last session on March 16 and has been at home in quarantine. She is believed to be on the mend from the disease.

Whitsett is the second legislator known to have the virus. Last week, fellow Detroit Democrat state Rep. Isaac Robinson died from what was strong suspected to be a case of coronavirus.

Re. Karen Whitsett (courtesy photo)

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, quarantine yourself and your entire household. Unless you are in need of emergency help, like if you can’t breathe, 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 move forward.

  

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