LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked Wednesday if there’s any chance she would loosen or change coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in the state before Labor Day weekend, regardless of the numbers.
“You said you wanted to nip this in the bud before school begins, so does that mean we can expect not to see any changes or loosening of restrictions until school begins, especially coming up to Labor Day weekend, no matter the positive changes in the numbers?” Whitmer was asked.
While the governor didn’t officially eliminate the possibility of more changes in the coming weeks, she hinted that it might be difficult for the numbers to change enough to trigger loosened restrictions before the start of the school year.
“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.
“Conventional wisdom is now, though, that maybe a third of the people who have (the coronavirus) don’t even know they have it, and that’s why you don’t see the numbers in terms of the positivity of cases until a few weeks later, and then a few weeks later the hospitalizations. So we know that our actions today are going to dictate whether or not we are in a strong position to safely result some in-person instruction.”
Whitmer said she’s trying to avoid moving Michigan backwards in her reopening plan, calling it “something that I’m hopeful we can prevent from happening.”
The question to Whitmer came after Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, took the podium and revealed cases in the state have “plateaued.” Khaldun also said case rates have been steadily decreasing in seven of the state’s eight regions, excluding the Lansing Region.
Ultimately, Whitmer said advice from medical and public health experts will determine if there will be changes before Labor Day.
“Can I tell you with certainty that there will be no more changes for the next three weeks? Of course I can not,” Whitmer said. “What will drive all the decision making will continue to be the epidemiology and the public health needs all across Michigan, and of course, our goal of keeping the economy engaged and getting our kids back in school.”
Cases plateauing in most regions
Khaldun 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.”
Here’s much more recent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whitmer’s handling of pandemic:
Health questions, advice: