Governor says community spread of coronavirus could trigger setback in Michigan’s reopening plan

State leader questioned about putting coronavirus patients in nursing homes

Flashpoint: 7/19/20 (Segment One)
Flashpoint: 7/19/20 (Segment One)

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer discussed a range of pressing issues surrounding the pandemic on Flashpoint Sunday from the possibility of the state moving backward in its reopening plan, schooling in the fall, her executive powers to coronavirus patients in nursing homes.

Threat of community spread

Speaking to Flashpoint host Devin Scillian, Whitmer acknowledged that the threat of community spread could play a major role in moving the state backward in its reopening plan.

“The thing about telling you precisely at what point we turn the dial, it’s about increase right, so seven days, 14 days of sustained increase, how big those increases are, but also the context matters, so if we have 140 cases in Wayne County for instance, but we have a nexus, they all came out of one house party, or they all came out of one facility, then we can trace and isolate, but if those 140 cases have no nexus, that they are just randomized, that means that there is community spread,” said Whitmer.

She emphasized that while coronavirus case numbers are important context is what really matters.

“But without that context we can’t tell you for sure if there is community spread or if there is a nexus and they are very different situations. If there is community spread, that’s alarming, and that’s when we look to perhaps take a step back,” she said.

Schooling in the fall

Fall high school sports in Michigan are set to begin as normal, but there will be contingency plans in place for possible coronavirus interruptions.

In regards to the new developments in high school sports Whitmer warned that what happened in Florida could become a reality in Michigan ‘if we all drop our guard.’

Just last weekend Florida shattered the national record for the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases in any state since the beginning of the pandemic.

“What we see happening in Florida could be Michigan if we all drop our guard, and that is why doubling down on masking up right now is important. Our actions today are going to tell us where we are in 55 days when our kids are supposed to be getting back into class,” said Whitmer.

Governor’s executive powers

Since the first Michigan coronavirus cases were announced in March Whitmer has issued more than 100 executive orders to address the coronavirus pandemic.

“These are powers that I never wanted to use and I certainly do not relish using them right now, each decision I make weighs heavily on me. The fact of the matter is with a virus that has grown this quickly, that has taken this many lives, it is incumbent on the nation’s governors to step up and lead where there is a vacuum of leadership in Washington, DC,” she said.

She says there are Florida residents who believe the state’s governor did not use the executive powers he had to prevent deaths.

“I would much rather be in the position we are in, in Michigan right now,” said Whitmer.

Coronavirus patients in nursing homes

She was also questioned about her approach to putting patients with the coronavirus in nursing homes.

“We never mandated that any nursing home take coronavirus patients. What we did do is say if they are returning residents to nursing homes, residents who had coronavirus, that they had to isolate them and build up a separate facility for them. And that was precisely what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended,” said Whitmer.

She says every step her administration took was what the CDC suggested and best practice at the time.

“But at no point in time did we ever require any nursing home to take a coronavirus patient back, if they didn’t believe that they were able to do so in a safe manner,” added Whitmer defending her administration.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 73,663 as of Sunday, including 6,119 deaths, state officials report.

On Saturday the state reported a total of 55,162 recoveries. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 11,900 as of Saturday.

“The trajectory that we are on is very concerning. It is more in the nature of seeing community spread and that is why we have to mask up now,” said Whitmer.

About the Author:

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.