Governor Whitmer Updates Michiganders on COVID-19 Pandemic
LANSING, MI - This afternoon Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference to update Michigan residents on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was joined by Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth Director Jeff Donofrio.
Governor Whitmer started off the press conference by stating that the curve appears to be flattening in Michigan and that the measures taken to slow the spread of the virus appear to be having a positive impact. She also took a moment to reassure the public that while she has had to take extreme measures, she doesn't do so lightly, and we have to continue doing our part if we want to get through this, "As governor, I have to use every lever at my disposal to protect people.”
In wake of the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order extension, many Michigan residents have been voicing their anger at Governor Whitmer in regards to deciding what is essential and nonessential. In response, she wanted to address misinformation being spread on social media and to clear up any misunderstandings.
One such misunderstanding has been that car seats are deemed nonessential and unavailable to purchase at this time, however, she assured the public that this was not true. Car seats are essential and can be purchased at any store that sells them. The reason for this confusion stemmed from a tweet sent out by a Michigan woman on Saturday stating that a Walmart had taped off car seats and marked them with a sign saying they were nonessential. Governor Whitmer went on to clarify that people are also able to purchase flags and bug spray under the extended executive order, another issue that has caused anger in Michigan residents.
As of today, there are 25,635 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, with 1,602 deaths. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun stated that while we are seeing the early signs of a plateau in the rate of growth, there are still many new cases and deaths everyday, and we all have to continue complying with Governor Whitmer's executive orders in order to keep slowing the spread.
Another big topic Governor Whitmer wanted to address was the re-engagement of society, especially in rural areas. Many people have been calling to lift restrictions in rural areas due to a lower number of cases, but Governor Whitmer is not planning on acting yet, "At this stage, we can’t make exceptions for some people in the state to get back to work. We will get to that point, but we’re not there yet."
While rural areas may not be getting hit as hard, social distancing practices still need to continue. Both Dr. Khaldun and Governor Whitmer agreed on this, saying that hospital systems in rural communities don't have enough resources should they have to treat a large outbreak.
Both women also went on to stress how detrimental it could be to our society if we re-opened too soon, with Governor Whitmer saying, "The re-engagement of our economy will likely come in phases, but we will get there."
And Dr. Khaldun joined in by stating, "Health and economy are very interrelated, and we must put the health of our communities first."
Several updates were also shared during the press conference:
-Today Governor Whitmer joined with a coalition of 12 governors who are calling on the Trump administration to allow for a special enrollment period of at least 30 days on the federal healthcare exchange.
-She has worked with a majority of the state's health insurance companies in order to waive cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for COVID-19 testing and treatments.
-13 new or expanded COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites have been announced, providing greater access to Michigan residents.
-Today testing criteria was expanded so that people wild mild symptoms can be tested.
-DTE will be delivering 2 million N95 masks to Michigan today in order to help with healthcare workers on the frontlines.
-The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is launching a statewide hotline for Michigan residents whose mental health has been negatively impacted during the COVID-19 crisis. The number for that is: 888.733.7753.
The full press conference can be found on the Michigan State Police Facebook and Twitter accounts. A link to the PowerPoint used during the update can also be viewed at the link below.