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‘Not out of the woods yet’: Michigan Gov. Whitmer provides update on state’s COVID-19 response

Whitmer did express ‘cautious optimism’ at news briefing

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a coronavirus news conference May 4, 2020.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a coronavirus news conference May 4, 2020. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a coronavirus (COVID-19) news briefing Monday afternoon.

Gov. Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun attended to provided an update regarding the state’s response efforts to COVID-19.

Click here to watch the briefing

Tuesday will mark eight weeks since the first two COVID-19 cases were identified in Michigan.

Whitmer said the state’s response has been “swift.” She noted the efforts to build alternate care facilities for coronavirus patients. She also said the personal protective equipment procurement team has worked “diligently” to secure PPE.

“There was a time in March when we didn’t have enough PPE to know that we could go into the weekend with the confidence that we would have everything we needed,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said that now, because of private donations, businesses and the federal government, Michigan has enough PPE to last several weeks.

If you know someone helping provide PPE in the fight against COVID-19 share a social media post about it with the following: #DoingMiPart

She noted that in the battle against COVID-19 it’s important to increase the capacity to test for COVID-19, trace the virus, and support those who are infected or have been exposed. Michigan’s ability to test has increased, according to Whitmer. She noted that in many parts of the state the number of positive cases has decreased or plateaued.

Michigan has partnered with CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid to set up drive thru testing sites. If you believe you have been in contact with a positive COVID-19 case or think you’ve been exposed get tested. Click here to find out where you can get tested for coronavirus.

Whitmer encouraged people to continue social distancing themselves and asked them to only leave home if necessary.

READ: Michigan residents now required to wear masks in public places under revised stay-at-home order

“We must continue to stay home to stay safe until at least May 15,” Whitmer said. “And only loosen it (the order) when public health experts and data say it’s safe.”

“Listening to medical experts will reduce deaths,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer noted that restrictions have been loosened on gardening, lawncare and outdoor recreation.

“We’re being smart about getting people back to work,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said the plan is to open up businesses slowly and deliberately to avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections.

“If we open up too fast we will have to go through all this pain all over again,” Whitmer said.

She said we can’t move forward and reengage every aspect of our economy and society until it is safe to do so. That means having enough COVID-19 tests, having few enough positive cases and ensuring hospitals are ready for a potential second wave.

Whitmer reminded residents to maintain social distancing while they are outside -- stay 6 feet away from other people. Keep your mask on, or in your back pocket in case you need it.

“I am always going to put the health of people in this state first,” Whitmer said. “We are not out of the woods yet.”

Michigan has created a COVID-19 office of accountability within the state budget office. It will provide oversight of coronavirus spending. That office will report to Whitmer.

With the election on Tuesday officials at the news briefing noted that absentee voting was expanded. However, at least one polling place will be open in each jurisdiction. There is more information on the state’s website.

Dr. Khaldun said she is pleased with the state’s progress overall. She said the daily cases, deaths, hospital capacity and testing capacity are all moving in the right direction.

She did note that the western side of Michigan has increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. She reminded people to stay home unless necessary and to wear a mask.

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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