Monday, 20 April 2020 21:47

Michigan Returning to Work Will be 'Phased in Carefully,' Whitmer Says

Written by Rose White, WZZM News


"This doesn't mean that our economy is going to open all at once. It doesn't mean that these states are going to take the take the exact same steps of the exact same time," Whitmer said. "But what this does mean is that we are all now working together to make sure that we are making data driven decisions, and protecting people in our region so that we don't see a second wave of COVID-19."


Michigan's chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the rate in the growth of new cases has plateaued. April 17, there were 760 new cases reported, the third time that week they dipped below 1,000. 


"These are positive signs and it means that social distancing is working," Khaldun said. "A plateau in cases still means there are a lot of cases and deaths occurring, and we have to be mindful of this as we move forward with our response."


Both the governor and Khaldun emphasized they will be keeping an eye on the data as the state develops a plan to start reopening. 


In the briefing, Whitmer showed two maps of Michigan: one of Michigan's current status with COVID-19 and one that displayed the original projections if a stay at home order was not enacted. The second scenario shows Michigan would have 46,000 cases right now, compared to 30,000. 


"Social distancing remains the single most important thing we can do to prevent this disease from spreading and to save lives," Khaldun said.


Some portions of the state will have a different curve than others, Khaldun said, and that will be a factor in determining how things are opened back up. 


One important element in getting Michigan restarted is expanding testing. The state recently opened or grew 13 testing sites across the state. And health officials have expanded the list of testing criteria so more people can clear the bar for testing. 


However, it still remains a hurdle for officials. Michigan has tested much fewer people than states with a comparatively similar case rate. Khaldun pointed to a lack of supplies, like swabs, to process tests.


"This week, we continue to work with our lab directors across the state to understand what the challenges are," she said.
Both state officials said a plan on how Michigan will progress will be unveiled next week. 


"It is my fervent hope that we do what we need to do to it right so that we do it safely and don't ever have to think about a stay at home order again," Whitmer said. "But it's going to take time. And people are going to need to be patient and this will happen in waves."


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