Whitmer ‘could think about’ lifting Michigan state of emergency if COVID-19 numbers drop enough

Whitmer not sure if state of emergency will stay in effect until COVID-19 vaccine is available

The MI Safe Start Map as of Aug. 19, 2020. (Michigan.gov)

LANSING, Mich. – Will Michigan remain in a state of emergency until a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine becomes available?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said if the state’s numbers got low enough, she could possibly consider lifting the state of emergency.

“So the question about will we remain in a state of emergency until there’s a vaccine -- I can’t answer that with certainty,” Whitmer said. “If our numbers got low enough, then perhaps we could think about lifting that.”

Whitmer’s comments came Wednesday during her COVID-19 press briefing.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services touched on the possibility of a vaccine being introduced early in 2021. Whitmer was asked if that’s what it will take to lift the state of emergency.

She noted that 49 of the 50 U.S. states are under some type of state of emergency.

“It is necessary to continue a lot of the protections that we have, that I have signed via executive order,” Whitmer said. “As long as COVID-19 is prevalent in such numbers that Dr. J shared with you -- there are some regions that are in the 20s in terms of 20-some per million per day. There are many regions that are in the 30s, and some that are north of that, and that’s what remains our concern.”

Whitmer said she’s proud that Michigan has taken the pandemic seriously and managed to get into a stronger position than many other states. She said the cases over the last seven days have started to plateau, which is better than an increase.

“We would like to see our numbers even lower than 20 per million, and so we’ve got to continue working toward that,” Whitmer said. “As I said, all these protections are making it easier for more people to access unemployment help in the middle of this, protections around our first responders -- all of those rely on us remaining in the state of emergency and that’s an important part of the consideration.”

Cases by region

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun spoke about how the current case rates are trending across the eight Michigan regions.

The Detroit Region has the highest case rate at 61 cases per million people per day, according to Khaldun. She said that case rate is largely driven by counties outside the city of Detroit.

The Saginaw Region is the second highest at 54 cases per million people per day. This region has seen a slight increase in case rate over the past week, Khaldun said.

Despite seeing a decline over the past two weeks, the Kalamazoo Region has the third-highest case rate, at 50 cases per million people per day, she said.

The Upper Peninsula is at 47 cases per million people per day -- a slight decrease over the past week, Khaldun said.

The Grand Rapids Region has seen a slight decrease over the past two weeks and was at 34 cases per million people per day at the end of last week, she said.

Khaldun lumped the Traverse City, Jackson and Lansing regions together, saying they’re all between 20-30 cases per million people per day. The Jackson and Lansing regions have seen recent decreases, while the Traverse City Region has seen a slight increase, she said.

More coverage

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

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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.