(This story was updated at 4:10 p.m.)
TUESDAY, April 7 — Another 1,751 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 118 deaths were reported in Michigan today, including another 34 cases identified in Greater Lansing, as COVID-19 again tracks its deadliest day in Michigan and the statewide death toll passes 800.
At least four Greater Lansing residents have died after contracting the virus, with deaths reported in 44 counties in Michigan and at least one confirmed case tracked in every county.
Here are the latest statistics from earlier afternoon, with percent changes from yesterday:
Cases — 18,972 (+10.2%)
Deaths — 845 (+16.2%)
Cases — 191 (+7.3%)
Deaths — 1
Cases — 61 (+7.0%)
Deaths — 2
Cases — 73 (+30.4%)
Deaths — 1
State officials announced yesterday that at least 24% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have been hospitalized, with about 9% of cases requiring ventilators. And about 89% of those requiring hospitalization are in southeast Michigan, according to still-incomplete state data.
In Ingham County, officials reported today that about 14% of confirmed cases have required hospitalization, with about 12% fully recovered and 8% making their recoveries at home. The rest remain in “active monitoring” and have been comparatively mild cases, officials reported.
Ingham officials said locally confirmed cases include first responders and healthcare workers. Local hospitals have not released data about the infection rate among their local personnel.
According to state reports, about 80% of cases (and about 86% of those dead) are from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Data also shows African Americans accounted for 33% of cases and 40% of deaths. Caucasians accounted for 23% of cases and 29% of deaths; those of unknown race charted 37% of cases and 25% of deaths.
Ingham County officials reported today that African Americans are three times as susceptible to coronavirus, partly due to a higher prevalence of underlying health conditions and because inequitable social constructs invariably lead to higher stress levels among black residents.
This afternoon, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 374,329 cases of COVID-19 and 12,064 deaths in the U.S. The New York Times database, which is updated more frequently, listed more: At least 380,749 confirmed cases and 11,931 deaths nationwide.
Michigan is still the state with the third most confirmed cases in the country, still behind New York and New Jersey. Michigan also reports the third-highest number of deaths among states.
As state lawmakers checked in this morning at the Michigan State Capitol, extending a statewide emergency declaration by another 23 days, a sparse crowd of protesters also gathered on the front steps to call for an end to a statewide lockdown on all non-essential businesses.
“More will die from economic fallout than COVID-19,” read one sign on the Capitol steps. “Small business is essential” was painted on another banner. “Balance the risk!” another sign warned. Protesters — keeping a six-foot distance — also chanted: “All business is essential!”
Their collective goal: Reopen businesses across Michigan as soon as possible. Some signs bashed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for orders that demonstrators felt went too far and shut down too many businesses and services. “Freedom is our right,” according to another handmade sign.
And even as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths rises in Michigan, state lawmakers still took steps today to eventually lift the state of emergency. A resolution passed through both chambers today that could put an end to Michigan’s emergency declaration by April 30.
The state’s emergency declaration, which has essentially enabled Whitmer to rule by executive order, was set to expire today. And while Whitmer pushed for a 70-day extension, the Senate shot down the measure before sending a watered-down, 23-day version over to the House.
The Free Press reports that Senate Majority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, tried to extend the declaration through June 16 but the amendment failed and the shorter resolution passed both chambers without dissent. Some argued that 70 days was too long to allow without a review.
“We tried to extend the state of emergency for the full 70 days as requested, but at the end of the day this shortened time frame is what was in front of us for a vote," Ananich told the Free Press earlier this afternoon. “I wish the extension was longer, but we will continue to keep moving forward and doing our jobs just like millions of Americans are being asked to do.”
Some Democrats suggested that today’s vote amounted to little more than political theater. A more recent disaster declaration was believed to have extended Whitmer’s executive powers through April 29 regardless. Whitmer said yesterday that it only provided a one-day extension.
Still, Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order remains in effect until at least April 13, though Whitmer yesterday also hinted toward issuing an extension sometime over the next week. The recent emergency extension ultimately grants her the authority to call those shots.
The House also failed to take up resolutions that would allow for virtual participation rather than forcing the Legislature to again meet to consider an extension of the order next month.
Last week, State Reps. Karen Whitsett and Tyrone Carter, both Detroit Democrats, tested positive for COVID-19. State Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, died from the virus last week. Still, the House failed to take up any resolutions that would’ve allowed for virtual voting.
House Democratic Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, called today’s vote “both legally dubious and grossly insufficient,” criticizing the failure to take up any of her resolutions that could’ve allowed future, remote participation, according to reports in the Detroit News.
The House “had an opportunity to adopt rules that would allow us to meet safely and provide transparency, but that opportunity was missed when the Speaker (Lee) Chatfield chose not to take action on the remote participation resolution,” she told reporters at the Detroit News.
Kyle Melinn, the editor and vice president of MIRS News, like many others at the Capitol, wore a face mask and was asked a series of questions about potential flu-like symptoms before he could enter the building. He also said lawmakers appeared to be taking safeguards seriously.
On the frontlines…
State officials reported yesterday that the virus’ peak is likely set for late April or May, but due to incomplete testing, officials have been struggling to lock down any reliable predictions.
As of yesterday, more than 40,000 tests had been completed compared to just 9,000 on April 4, officials said. And at least 15 laboratories are now processing tests — some with rapid, 15-minute results — compared to just a single lab with a one-day turnaround a month ago.
Still, data isn’t expansive enough to draw any conclusions about the pandemic, according to the state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. She also said Michigan is continuing to face a massive statewide shortage of protective equipment for frontline health care staff.
Whitmer yesterday reported that equipment stockpiles statewide were running “dangerously low” with some hospitals in southeast Michigan reporting less than a week’s worth of N95 masks, face shields and hospital gowns left in reserves. More supplies were still coming, she said.
Emergency room nurses at a Detroit Medical Center hospital in Detroit, tasked with more than 100 critically ill patients, pushed back this week against what they said are dangerous working conditions, according to recent reports in the Detroit Free Press and Bridge Magazine.
Beaumont Health, the state’s largest health care system, informed employees last week that anyone who refuses to work with COVIF-19 patients will be fired, reports the Detroit News.
More than 600 employees at the Henry Ford Health System have tested positive for COVID-19 since the hospital began tracking on March 12, reports the Detroit News.
Doctors, nurses and other medical staff are still being asked to go to the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic to staff the TCF Center, among other volunteer roles. Visit michigan.gov/fightcovid19 for details or to make a donation to help support the cause.
Additionally, state officials yesterday selected the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi as the site of a second alternate care facility to expand medical capacity. It’ll provide 250,000 square feet and bed space to accommodate up to 1000 patients infected with coronavirus.
In other news…
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor yesterday signed two executive directives to restrict the city’s expenses amid the pandemic. One limits departmental spending and the second freezes hiring, transfers and promotions without a specific exception granted from city administration.
East Lansing has suspended burn permits — both new and existing — for the open burning of yard waste and debris until further notice. This does not include gas or charcoal cooking grills. The stated goal: Reduce risks and let the city’s Fire Department focus on the COVID-19 crisis.
Police in Michigan’s most populated counties are relaxing enforcement of speeding and other minor traffic offenses to lower the risk of exposure for officers while on the job, MLive reports.
Rapid testing for COVID-19 is being expanded this week to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department — in addition first responders in the city of Detroit — to help provide instant results and get quarantined law enforcement back on the street, reports the Detroit Free Press.
About 10,000 state employees who work directly with the public in prisons, state hospitals, veterans homes and law enforcement will get a $750 biweekly pay bump “in recognition of the nature of their work,” according to reports published yesterday in the Lansing State Journal.
The Michigan Supreme Court — for the first time in history— will hear oral arguments in cases using Zoom video conferencing this month, according to reports yesterday from MLive.
Michigan is seeking election workers to support ongoing elections amidst the crisis. The May 5 elections will be conducted primarily by mail, but election workers are still needed to process and count ballots and to staff clerks’ offices. Visit michigan.gov/democracymvp for details.
The Food Bank Council of Michigan is creating Quarantine Food Boxes specifically for older adults who are unable to access distribution sites. The supplies will provide enough food for 10 days, or 22 meals. Visit the Department of Health and Human Services’s website for details.
Fiat Chrysler plans to restart its plants on May 4. General Motors hasn’t set a firm date and officials at Ford said production won’t restart until May, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Little Caesars announced yesterday that it would donate and deliver a million pizzas to health care workers and first responders across the country this week, reports the Detroit News.
The state is reminding those that have lost their jobs and their healthcare coverage that low- and no-cost options are available through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. Consumers have 60 days after losing essential health coverage to apply during a special enrollment period.
The Michigan Public Service Commission is also urging homeowners and contractors to postpone any non-essential digging and excavation until Whitmer’s stay-home order expires.
The latest information is posted at michigan.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.
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