LANSING, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — Michigan saw more than 50 additional deaths linked to coronavirus Sunday, the largest single-day jump so far, bringing the total to 184.
The larges concentrations of both cases and deaths is in metro Detroit. Wayne County, including the city of Detroit, has confirmed a total of 3,195 cases and recorded 83 deaths; Oakland County has more than 1,365 cases and 48 deaths and Macomb County has 728 cases and 27 deaths. Washtenaw County has 266 cases and six deaths. Genesee County has confirmed 150 cases and seven people have died there.
Early Monday afternoon, Kalamazoo County had its first death related to COVID-19, according to the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department.
“The individual was an older adult with underlying medical conditions,” a release from the department said.
Kalamazoo County has confirmed 24 cases.
Berrien County also on Monday announced its first death linked to coronavirus, saying the patient was a man over the age of 70. That death is not yet included in the state count and will be reflected in Tuesday’s report.
“On behalf of the entire Spectrum Health Lakeland team our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of this individual,” Dr. Loren B. Hamel, MD, president of Spectrum Health Lakeland, said in a statement. “We realize this is difficult news for our community and these are unprecedented and uncertain times for all. We have the deepest compassion for our friends and neighbors who fall sick, and for our team members who remain committed to care for our COVID-19 patients and fight this virus together.”
The county said it had 32 confirmed cases and 10 of those had already recovered.
Kent County’s total of confirmed cases has risen to 96, 24 more than the day prior. Muskegon County has confirmed a total of 18 cases; two of them proved fatal.
Ottawa County said it had 30 cases, five more than the day before. No one in that county has died of the virus.
“Since there is evidence of COVID-19 community spread, every location should be considered a potential risk,” the county health department warned.
Statewide, the dead range in age from 25 to 97, though the average age is about 68. Sixty-eight percent of the people killed have been men and 32% women. The total number of cases are about evenly split between men and women.
According to figures accumulated by Johns Hopkins University, Michigan has the fourth highest number of cases in the country. Only the states of New York and Louisiana have more deaths; 790 have died in New York City alone. Across the country, more than 153,000 cases have been confirmed and more than 2,800 have died.
During a morning news conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she knows the number of people who are infected by the virus will increase.
“When you see those numbers rise, don’t think that it means your participation — your staying at home — isn’t having an impact,” she said.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said Sunday that Michigan’s cases should peak around April 9 or 10, a few days before the national peak.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s medical executive, said TCF Center in downtown Detroit will be used for COVID-19 patients who aren’t critically ill.
“No one is immune to disease,” said Khaldun. “Kids should not be outside playing with their neighbors, people should not be playing in parks. This is not the time to have extended family gatherings. People must stay home. If we do the right thing, and we do it now, we will be able to save lives.”
The governor has ordered Michigan residents to stay at home unless they must leave to go grocery shopping or unless they are an essential service worker. The goal is to keep the number of severe cases small enough that hospitals can handle them.
The state is asking for medical professionals who aren’t already working on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak to consider volunteering. On Saturday, Whitmer and the MDHHS launched a new volunteer website where trained medical professionals can register to help at hospital in fighting the virus. Residents can also find out how they can help in their community.
WHITMER ANNOUNCES INCREASE, EXPANSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
The governor also said she suspended state hiring and promotions and vetoed $80 million in new spending in order to steer money to fighting the coronavirus. At the same time, she said she signed laws with $150 million for the state’s response.
In an agreement signed between the state and U.S. Department of Labor, the governor implemented the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs, which will help workers who do not already qualify for state unemployment benefits.
Grand Rapids hair stylist Carrie Taylor is one of them. Salons were among the businesses Whitmer ordered to close to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
“It’s been pretty rough,” Taylor told News 8 Monday. “The money instantly stopped.”
It includes workers who are self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig as well as low-wage workers. The new programs also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months and extends payments to 36 weeks.
“Hopefully, it’s enough to tie us over until we can go back to work,” Taylor said.
She started filing for unemployment but told News 8 navigating the online system is challenging.
The governor released a new schedule for people to file for unemployment, which Taylor believes will help make the process smoother.
“God’s got us,” Taylor said.
The new online filing schedule:
- Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays or Thursdays.
- Saturdays will be available for people who couldn’t file during their allotted days.
The state is still recommending people go online during off-peak times between 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
The new schedule for people who are filing by phone — 866.500.0017:
- Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- Fridays will be available for people who couldn’t file during their allotted window.
More information about the new unemployment benefits can be found online.
Also Monday, Whitmer signed another executive order temporarily banning all nonessential veterinary procedures as another social distancing measure. It goes into effect Tuesday.
“While there is no evidence that pets can transmit COVID-19, we must take additional steps to promote social distancing,” Whitmer said in a statement. “If we want to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19, all Michiganders must do their part, stay in their homes, and stay six feet away from others when they’re outside. We’ve taken aggressive steps in the past three weeks to slow the spread of the virus, and I will continue to work every day to ensure we protect the most people we can.”
—News 8’s Donovan Long contributed to this report.
WHITMER ‘STILL REVIEWING OPTIONS’ ON SCHOOLS
Whitmer did not address extending her order that closed all of the state’s public and private schools until April 13, but said she may address the issue later this week.
“I would anticipate another press conference later this week on that subject,” Whitmer said.
Citing sources involved in the decision, Bridge magazine on Monday reported that Whitmer would soon close schools for the rest of the year, that all students would move up to the next grade starting in the fall and that seniors would graduate.
However, a spokesperson for the governor tweeted that the report contained “lots of inaccuracies” and that no final decisions had yet been made. Additionally, the governor’s office told News 8 she was “still reviewing options.”
Anticipating the governor would follow the lead of Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia, which have already canceled the rest of the school year, Jenison Public Schools sent a letter to parents over the weekend promising “roadmaps” for remote learning.
“As we collectively embark on this new journey in providing remote learning opportunities, I want to emphasize how important it is to monitor the emotional and social wellbeing of your children,” Superintendent Tom TenBrink wrote in part. “Our teachers will continue to make it a priority to make personal connections with their students through various virtual platforms. We highly recommended you create an environment where learning, although challenging, can be a rewarding experience for your children and entire family. If necessary, please make adjustments to the (remote learning plans) to create a stress-free learning environment.”
MI NATIONAL GUARD TO STAFF FOUR MI FOOD BANKS
The Michigan National Guard will be staffing at food banks in four Michigan communities starting Monday.
Around 10 national guard members will be at each site, which include Ann Arbor, Comstock Park, Flint and Pontiac. They are expected to support through mid-Apirl.
The Michigan National Guard members will direct traffic for drive-through distribution sites, help packing bags of food and handing them to cars.
Since the governor announced the MNG’s involvement in the state’s COVID-19 response on March 18, they have help assemble and load personal protective gear. They are helping at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette with temperature screening of all employees and making sure screening protocols are being followed.
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.
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.