(This story was updated at 4:15 p.m.)
SATURDAY, April 4 — About 15% of those testing positive for COVID-19 in Ingham County have landed in the hospital, according to Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail.
With at least 168 confirmed cases of coronavirus and one death in Ingham County recorded since the pandemic struck Michigan, Vail said yesterday that just 24 cases were critical enough to warrant treatment in a hospital.
Several others, she said, have since recovered. The rest are mostly resting at home from comparatively milder cases of the virus, Vail added.
And while hospitals near Detroit reach capacity, local hospitals like McLaren and Sparrow are hesitant to offer any help. Until cases stop rising locally, hospitals are focused on their own backyard, Vail said.
“Right now, I don’t think Ingham County is jumping on that one,” Vail said during a virtual press conference yesterday afternoon. “If you look and see what is going on in the state, we are beginning to look like a suburb of Detroit. We’re keeping a close eye on our own capacity.”
Statewide, more than 500 people are dead from COVID-19 in Michigan, including four in Greater Lansing, as the state pushed past 14,000 confirmed cases earlier this afternoon.
According to state records, Michigan charted another 1,481 new cases of COVID-19 and another 61 related deaths today. At least 14,225 cases have now been identified in Michigan, mostly in southeastern counties, with at least 540 deaths reported in the last 25 days.
Officials yesterday said an elderly woman from Eaton County died from the virus, marking the second in Eaton County and the fourth in the Greater Lansing region. Among the others: A 71-year-old man from Eaton County, a homebound man in his 50s from Ingham County and an elderly woman from Clinton County. Each also had other, pre-existing health conditions. No new local deaths were reported today.
Together, those three counties have tracked at least 275 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date.
According to the latest reports, about 87% of those dead (and about 80% of cases) are from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Data also shows African Americans accounted for 34% of cases and 40% of deaths. Caucasians accounted for 24% of cases and 29% of deaths; those of unknown race charted 36% of cases and 26% of deaths.
The latest case spike edged Michigan up to become the state with the third most confirmed cases in the country, behind New York and New Jersey. Michigan also reported the third highest number of deaths among all other states in the U.S.
This afternoon, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 277,205 cases of COVID-19 and 6,593 deaths in the U.S. The New York Times database, which is updated more frequently, listed 300,617 confirmed cases and 8,164 deaths nationwide, also as of earlier this afternoon.
Vail also urged local residents to begin wearing face masks in public as the virus spreads. While it won’t necessarily protect wearers from contracting the virus, it’ll likely mitigate the spread.
“These really should not be medical masks,” Vail explained. “There’s no need for an N-95 mask. I’m talking about cloth masks, bandanas or really anything to use to cover your face.”
In Greater Lansing…
Michigan State University is testing a new method of decontaminating N95 masks using ovens, which will soon be used by doctors and nurses, the Lansing State Journal reports.
Yard waste collection in the city of Lansing will be delayed until at least April 27. Yard waste bags should not be placed at the curbside; no drop-off option has been made available.
Additionally, trash bags, boxes and recyclables outside their carts — including the 95-gallon carts — will not be collected beginning April 13. Orange-bag, simple recycling is temporarily suspended. And bulk items (30 lbs. and more) will not be collected until further notice.
Call 517-483-4400 or email email@example.com. for more information.
East Lansing extended its local state of emergency through April 30, with it keeping most city facilities closed. East Lansing City Hall, the Department of Public Works (including the recycling drop-off site), the library and the 54-B District Court plans to reopen again May 1.
The Hannah Community Center and the Prime Time Seniors’ program will be closed through at least May 31. Additionally, all city meetings and events remain canceled, however, virtual meetings may be scheduled in the near future to discuss the city’s budget, among other items.
The Crystal Awards is postponed to 5 p.m. July 29 at the Hannah Community Center. The library’s Books, Bites and Bids event and the Art Festival has been postponed indefinitely. Further, the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center will not be open for the summer season.
Playground equipment and pavilions at the Northern Tail Dog Park will remain closed through May 31, though the park itself (along with most others) remain open for exercise. All activities have also been suspended at the soccer and softball complexes through May 31.
Essential services in East Lansing continue to be maintained, though building permits will only be issued on an emergency basis. Rental inspections are canceled through the end of the month. Additionally, all yard waste collection and water shutoffs have been suspended.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order yesterday prohibiting all employers from discharging, disciplining or otherwise retaliating against an employee for staying home from work if they or one of their close contacts tests positive for COVID-19 or displays symptoms.
She also declared it “public policy of the state” that all Michiganders who test positive or show symptoms (or who live with someone who tests positive or shows symptoms) should not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, ramping up consequences for possible violations.
Violations of the order, in addition to a misdemeanor, now also carry a $1,000 civil fine.
People who test positive or are experiencing symptoms must now wait to leave their homes until three days have passed since their symptoms have resolved or seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared, or since they were swabbed for a test that yielded positive results.
Further, anyone close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should remain at home until 14 days have passed or the symptomatic individual tests negative. Only first responders, healthcare and childcare workers and correctional officers are exempt from staying at home if a member of their household tests positive or displays symptoms of COVID-19.
Trips for food, medicine or supplies are allowable but only if they cannot be obtained from delivery. People can also still engage in outdoor activities while keeping a six-foot distance. Those with symptoms or who have tested positive are also strongly encouraged to wear a face mask.
Attorney General Dana Nessel demanded yesterday that two businesses registered in Las Vegas stop marketing and selling fake at-home COVID-19 test kits to Michigan residents. Although no such kits have been approved by the FDA, scammers were allegedly still trying to sell them.
She also sent cease-and-desist letters yesterday to three Menominee County businesses for failing to close their doors under Whitmer’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order. The letters went to a car dealership, a gardening supply store and a tobacco shop, officials said.
Crystal Car Wash in Portage also received a similar cease-and-desist letter yesterday afternoon.
Her office is also warning residents about a newly increased risk of potential hijacking and cybersecurity breaches on video-teleconferencing calls, like Zoom, during the pandemic.
But along with the violations, Nessel’s team is also recognizing the good work in Michigan too. Yesterday, officials lauded Home Depot for its efforts to protect customers and employees from COVID-19 — including several social distancing precautions and new in-store procedures.
Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order setting a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for violations of Whitmer’s executive orders to mandate social distancing in Michigan. Those include bans on large assemblages, using places of public accommodation and those that restrict gatherings, travel and non-essential employment.
Additionally, the state has set up a referral process for possible licensing violations at businesses.
Whitmer announced yesterday that businesses across Michigan are eligible to apply for $349 billion in Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Details are available at the state’s new website, MIpaycheckprotection.com.
Michigan also recently received more than $7.5 million to provide pick-up and home-delivered meals to seniors (anyone 60 and older) who need extra support. Sign up for meal assistance or daily wellness-check calls through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
A vast majority of state parks, trails and recreational areas remain open as the weather warms, but officials still advise residents to maintain a distance of six feet between other adventurers.
City officials in Detroit are warning of the potential for a citywide curfew and park closures as police ramp up enforcement for groups still congregating amid the pandemic, reports the Detroit News. Those that don’t abide the order could face a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
A 50-year-old bus driver from Detroit who recently expressed his anger on Facebook about a coughing passenger on his bus died yesterday from COVID-19, the Associated Press reports.
Lake Superior State University donated resources yesterday for additional hospital beds, IV pumps, N95 masks and face shields for medical staff fighting COVID-19. Additionally, the university is using 3-D printers to make up to 40 face shields a day for the next two weeks.
Whitmer is still asking doctors, nurses and other medical staff to go to the “front lines” of the coronavirus pandemic to staff the TCF Center, among other roles. Details can be found at michigan.gov/fightcovid19. The state is also seeking donations for more medical equipment.
City Pulse also needs your support now more than ever. Advertising — almost all our revenue — has fallen sharply because of closures due to the coronavirus. Our staff is working seven days a week to help keep you informed. Please do what you can at this time to contribute to the City Pulse Fund. All donations are tax-deductible.