Whitmer warns Michigan is ‘at a dangerous moment’ with coronavirus

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun offers an update on COVID-19 in Michigan while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun offers an update on COVID-19 in Michigan while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens.(source: WJRT)
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 2:33 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - As the increase in coronavirus cases accelerates in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again called on residents to “double down” on wearing face masks in public and maintaining social distancing.

Whitmer said the state has reached a “dangerous moment" and her administration is closely following COVID-19 statistics, which have been increasing most of this month. But she didn’t hint at any further mandates or restrictions for the state coming soon.

“We are sounding the alarm bells right now,” Whitmer said.

She warned that community spread of the illness is happening across Michigan and it could lead to an out of control spread, which Wisconsin is experiencing. She again called on everyone in Michigan to follow mandates for wearing face masks in public, social distancing and gathering limits.

“We all need to take this seriously,” Whitmer said. “We need to double down on wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.”

Posted by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who is Michigan’s chief medical executive, said Michigan’s position with COVID-19 is better than many other states, but continuing to worsen.

Statewide, 131 new cases of the illness per million people are confirmed, which is 80% higher than a month ago. The state is testing an average of 35,300 people per day, but the rate of positive tests is climbing to nearly 5% over the past week.

Michigan’s coronavirus death rate has increased from an average of nine to 15 per day over the past month. Khaldun said 58% of hospitalizations for COVID-19 are outside Metro Detroit.

She showed graphs that indicate COVID-19 statistics have been increasing since the Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling on Oct. 2 that struck down many of her coronavirus orders. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reissued rules requiring masks, social distancing and gathering limits on Oct. 5.

Michigan mandates still require wearing a face mask in public spaces, including stores and schools, with a few exceptions for people who cannot medically tolerate them. Businesses are required to refuse service for anyone who is not following the mask mandate.

People are required to maintain 6 feet of social distancing as much as possible. Gatherings are limited to 20 people per 1,000 square feet indoors and 30 people per 1,000 square feet outdoors in much of Michigan. Indoor venues with fixed seating are limited to 20% capacity.

Whitmer said all of these measures should be common knowledge by now, seven months into the coronavirus pandemic.

“At the end of the day, you don’t need an executive order or a court to tell you what the right thing is to do,” Whitmer said.

Khaldun said the mask orders, social distancing and gathering limits will be more important in the coming months. More people will be spending time indoors together as the weather gets colder, which could allow COVID-19 to spread more easily.

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