‘I ask that you wear a mask and stay six feet apart’: Michigan governor to participants of upcoming protest at Capitol

Governor warns devastation from second wave could dwarf hardship state has already encountered

A protester carries his rifle at the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, April 30, 2020. Hoisting American flags and handmade signs, protesters returned to the state Capitol to denounce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-home order and business restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic while lawmakers met to consider extending her emergency declaration hours before it expires. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s stay-at-home order is helping lower the chance of a second wave of the coronavirus, said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, addressing reporters at a press conference Monday.

“The devastation from a second wave could dwarf the hardship that we have already encountered. We made these sacrifices, let’s not make them in vain," said Whitmer.

Members of the governor’s administration say the state is making progress toward beating the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan. Just last week Whitmer revealed the six stages of her plan to stop the spread of the coronavirus and fully reopen the state. The state is currently at phase three of that plan.

MESSAGE TO GUN YIELDING PROTESTORS

Michigan republican lawmakers recently filed a lawsuit against the governor alleging that she exceeded her authority by issuing so many executive orders. Not all businesses have followed the stay-at-home order.

“These executive orders have the force of law, and we expect people to abide by them. Most businesses have a license from the state and they are putting themselves at risk by putting their customers and selves at risk by opening pre-maturely,” said Whitmer.

Lockdown protests at the Michigan State Capitol with gun yielding participants have garnered national attention.

Whitmer said she is really “disappointed” that the Michigan Capitol Commission delayed its decision to ban guns from the Capitol.

Read MORE: Michigan Capitol Commission votes to study possible ban on guns at Capitol Building

This Thursday another protest is planned in Lansing. Whitmer noted that there are a lot of lawmakers fearful of going to work.

“I am increasingly concerned about the violent nature of the extreme comments that are being made around these organizations and groups that are coming together. The violent, racist extreme rhetoric that has already been connected to Thursday’s rally,” said Whitmer in response to threats being made against her.

She says the rhetoric could be avoided if Republican leadership in the legislature would step up and denounce it.

“I would appreciate it if others would do their part to try and lower the heat. If you chose to demonstrate I ask that you wear a mask and stay six feet apart from others,” said Whitmer.

EXPANDING STATEWIDE TESTING

Whitmer noted that as more people get tested the number of positive cases has been declining.

READ MORE: Michigan Gov. Whitmer: Goal is to test 450,000 residents for virus in May

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, also spoke at the press conference.

Khaldun says the rate of increasing new cases is continuing to slow, meaning the rate of new infections has dropped. “It has dropped, in fact twenty-five percent in the past seven days statewide. This is very encouraging,” said Khaldun.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 47,552 as of Monday night, including 4,584 deaths, state officials report. The official recovery total is 22,686.

Khaldun noted that since the start of COVID-19 Michigan has tested over 290,000 people. She says the state is close to reaching its goal of conducting 15,000 tests per day and on Thursday completed 14,221 tests.

Tricia L. Foster, Chief Operating Officer for the governor’s executive office says the federal government indicted that it would be matching the state’s need from going to 15,000 tests a day to 30,000 tests per day.

“With the new supplies and deploying them accordingly, our next goal over the next 30 days is 30,000 tests per day,” said Foster.

Moving forward the state will be paying closer attention to contact tracing. There are plans underway to hire up to 1,000 paid staff in partnership with local health departments.

Officials on the governor’s administration say aggressive testing, contact tracing and isolation will be the only way to get ahead of this disease.

“Until we have a vaccine, until we can do more to keep safe, social distancing is still the best tool that we have and we’re all safer at home,” said Whitmer. “It is true the aggressive action we have taken as a state to fight this virus, those actions are working because the people of Michigan are doing their part.”

Whitmer added that as governor she would do everything in her power to protect families from COVID-19. "We are not out of the woods yet. It is our responsibility to all continue doing our part,” she said.

The governor said COVID-19 is still present in 79 out of 83 counties. Obviously, some areas in the state have been hit harder than others. Because of that there is a possibility that some areas could re-engage at different paces than others, said Whitmer.

ARE STATE PARKS STAYING OPEN?

Currently, state parks are open for recreational activities. The governor’s administration will continue to monitor the data and reports coming out of state parks.

“I’ll continue to make decisions based on what is best for overall health and safety in terms of what our trajectory looks like and what are capabilities look like if we do have a COVID-19 outbreak,” she said.

Khaldun says medication to treat COVID-19 arrived in Michigan over the weekend.

According to Khaldun, just this Saturday the state received 40 cases of the experimental anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat the coronavirus. The cases were shipped to hospitals across the state that have seen the highest number of COVID-19 cases, burdens of deaths and sickest patients. Khaldun says it is still unclear whether the medication works.

Many want to know whether it is fine to get together with people in their social circle if no one has the virus. The governor says people respond to the virus differently.

“You could carry COVID-19 and not even know it. In fact a lot of people are asymptomatic and not even know it,” she said. “One person carrying COVID-19 can infect tens of thousands in a matter of days and that is why it is important that we still continue to observe the stay-at-home order now so we decrease the chance of a second wave."


About the Author:

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.