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6 common mistakes people are making as COVID-19 spreads in Michigan, according to Gov. Whitmer

COVID-19 cases surge across state of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – COVID-19 cases in Michigan are at an all-time high, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer outlined six specific mistakes residents are making that contributes to the spread.

Whitmer broke down these mistakes during her COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday after asking Michigan residents not to travel or gather with people outside their households during the Thanksgiving season.

“We are fatigued, but I think it’s important to recognize the things we can do to stay safe,” Whitmer said.

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Here are the six mistakes she mentioned:

Attending small gatherings

Health experts have said any gathering with people outside your household puts you in danger of spreading COVID-19, no matter how small the group.

“If you are attending small gatherings with people you know, you’re in greater danger,” Whitmer said.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical officer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, recommended wearing masks and practicing social distancing whenever you’re inside with people from another household.

Not quarantining for after exposure

Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 should be quarantining for two weeks regardless of symptoms, Whitmer said.

Hospital officials said during a virtual discussion Thursday that 40% or more of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, but they can still transmit the virus.

“If you’re not quarantining for two weeks when you’ve been exposed, you could be presenting danger to others,” Whitmer said.

Getting tested too soon after exposure

“(People are) making the mistake of getting tested too soon after exposure,” Whitmer said.

Khaldun later pointed out that just because a COVID-19 test is negative doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have to follow safety guidelines. It only means that person didn’t have the virus at the exact moment the sample was taken.

Assuming that because something is allowed, it’s safe

Certain mandates have been handed down by MDHHS and are considered the law in Michigan, such as wearing masks in public places.

But even precautions that aren’t legally required should be followed, Whitmer said.

“Making the mistake of assuming that because something is allowed, it is safe,” Whitmer said. “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Yes, our grocery stores are open, but you should limit your trips to limit your exposure, and only one person from the household (should) go to the store.”

Assuming taking one precaution will keep you safe

Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, Local 4 spoke to an expert about the “Swiss cheese analogy.”

“Each intervention that we currently have for COVID-19 prevention is kind of like a slice of Swiss cheese,” said Ryan Malosh, a research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “There are holes in it, and so the virus can get through in certain ways.”

But if you layer multiple prevention practices on top of one another, it’s less likely the holes in every slice of cheese will align to make a clear path through the entire stack.

Whitmer echoed that sentiment Thursday, saying Michiganders are making the mistake of "assuming that taking one precaution will keep you safe.”

“We’ve got to take all of these precautions,” Whitmer said. “Physical distancing without hand washing -- that’s a recipe for disaster. We have to do all of these things, not one of them.”

Assuming friends and family are as careful as you are

Whitmer and Khaldun have stressed throughout the pandemic that it doesn’t matter how well you know someone or if you trust them to follow COVID-19 protocols -- they could still spread the virus.

“Assuming that your friends and family are as careful as you are,” Whitmer said. “We love our friends and family and want to stay connected, but you can’t assume everyone is following the same approach that you are.”


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