Gov. Whitmer ‘trying to avoid’ moving Michigan back a phase in COVID-19 reopening plan

Whitmer: 'That's something that I'm hopeful we can prevent from happening'

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a news conference on Aug. 5, 2020. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she’s “trying to avoid” moving the state back a phase in her coronavirus (COVID-19) reopening plan when asked if there’s any chance of loosening restrictions before the school year.

“We’re trying to avoid moving back a phase,” Whitmer said. “That’s, you know, something that I’m hopeful we can prevent from happening. But it’s all going to be dictated by what people do, and we will see in the numbers in the next week, the next two weeks, the next three weeks.”

Whitmer was asked Wednesday during her briefing whether there was any chance the state could see any changes or loosening of restrictions before the school year, regardless of what happens with the numbers.

“I think it’s really important that we stay focused on the fact that this virus still doesn’t show up in numbers until a couple of weeks later,” Whitmer said. “The dangerous, insidious thing about COIVD-19 is that you can be carrying it and not even know it.”

Whitmer cited health experts, saying one-third of the people who have been infected with the coronavirus don’t even know it, but they can still spread the disease.

She said the actions of Michigan residents right now are going to dictate whether or not the state can safely resume in-person instruction for students and reopen other sections of the economy.

“We are at a plateau,” Whitmer said. “Essentially, countries that have been successful have less than 10 (cases) per million (people) per day. We are well above that all across the state of Michigan right now, and that’s why it’s really important that we tighten up where we can.

“If people are serious about masking up and washing their hands and not congregating -- it’s going to be really important.”

It’s not certain that there won’t be any major changes in the next three weeks because epidemiology and public health needs will continue to drive decisions, Whitmer said.

Cases plateauing in most regions

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo regions are still seeing over 40 cases per million people per day, but there has been a steady decrease in those regions over the last two or three weeks.

In the Jackson and Upper Peninsula regions, officials are reporting about 35 cases per million people per day. That rate has been decreasing for one or two weeks.

The Saginaw and Lansing regions have both dropped below 30 cases per million people per day. The Saginaw Region has seen a decrease over the past week.

The Lansing Region is the only region that has seen a recent increase, according to Khaldun. It has seen a two-week increase in the rate of cases, she said.

Khaldun said the Traverse City Region is under 10 cases per million people per day and has been decreasing over the past three weeks.

“These plateauing trends are not reason to let our guard down,” Khaldun said.

She said Michigan is holding steady at around 28,000 tests per day, and the percentage of tests that come back positive are tending downward -- now at 3.4% as opposed to 3.7% the previous week.

“Hospitalizations and deaths continue to remain steady and low, particularly at the deaths,” Khaldun said. “These are all good signs, and we will continue to monitor these metrics. But as we all know, even if a trend is stabilizing, it only takes a few people to create an outbreak and have the disease spread rapidly.”

More coverage

Here’s much more recent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer’s handling of pandemic:

Reopening Michigan:

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.