Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: COVID’s deadliest days in Michigan loom ahead

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive in the Whitmer administration said coronavirus is “out of control.”

With Michigan COVID-related deaths approaching 8,000, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s top medical official painted a grim picture Thursday of the state’s very near future.

“We are potentially looking at some of the deadliest, most grim days of this pandemic ahead of us if we don't collectively change our behaviors,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive and chief deputy director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said of the current surge.

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Joining Khaldun at the afternoon press briefing, Whitmer noted that the country is now registering more than 1,000 deaths each day.

“Try to imagine ten 737 airplanes crashing to the ground every single day,” the governor said. “That's what we're facing — a 9-11 every three days.

Unlike the spring explosion of cases that would be followed by warmer weather, the onslaught of new cases in recent weeks is building as winter approaches, pushing people indoors and close together.

As of Thursday, Michigan had logged 236,225 cases and is currently tracking 747 active outbreaks — 25 percent more than a week ago, Khaldun noted. 

Already, 7,811 people are confirmed to have died so far in Michigan, according to state data.

One-in-five intensive care patients across the state are COVID patients. 

Hospitals say they are “filling up very quickly,” with “medical wards and ICUs..filling up exponentially,” Khaldun said. “Some are already almost at capacity, risking the ability to take care of not just COVID patients but non-COVID patients as well.”

The surge is also overwhelming the state’s ability to conduct contract tracing and testing — the basic tools to track and try to control the virus.

“That system is simply not keeping up,” she said.

Whitmer and Khaldun issued the warnings just hours after hospital leaders across Michigan did much the same, pleading with Michiganders to wear masks and cancel normal Thanksgiving plans.

“Thanksgiving is going to look different this year, it just has to,” Whitmer said, urging families to celebrate only with members of their households and connect with others over Zoom or with pictures.

“The more people we have in our homes, talking and eating, drinking, hugging, yelling at the Lions, the higher the risk of catching or spreading this virus,” she said.

Khaldun echoed her words, noting that her own family has cancelled “all holiday gatherings.”

“The winter holidays simply cannot be the same this year. This is not the time to travel for the holidays,” she said.

More than 45,000 diagnostic tests are being performed across the state every day, she noted, and 1 in 10 of those tests is returning positive for COVID — an “alarming” rate, and one that “means this virus is out of control,” said Khaldun.

She and Whitmer offered refrains that have been repeated by public health authorities since early in the pandemic: Wear masks. Wash hands. Social distance.

Such efforts not only protect individuals, they reduce pressure on overwhelmed health care systems and workers.

“None of us needs a judge or an executive order to make smart decisions for ourselves in our families,” Whitmer said.

Pressed on whether another state government-ordered lockdown might be ahead, Whitmer skirted the question and instead called on the public to “do their part,” redirecting the question onto what she said was the main message for the day.

“Ultimately, the most important thing that the public needs to know is that this remains a very real and present threat to every single one of us. We need people to individually do their part so, collectively, we get through this winter, we don't overwhelm our hospital systems, and we don't lose more lives,” she said.

Whitmer and Khaldun encouraged residents to download the MI COVID Alert app, a voluntary, free smartphone app that notifies users if they might have been in close contact with people infected with COVID-19.

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Thu, 11/12/2020 - 10:43pm

Republicans have no interest in combating the covid virus, and have taken an anti-science stance throughout this crisis. Their answer to the virus is to strip the governor of her emergency powers as more residents die each day through their inaction and incompetence.

Save our State!
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:49pm

I know WTF? Why did they fight to take away the governor's emergency powers when they don't have a plan and don't want to do anything? They are traitorous saboteurs.

Thu, 11/12/2020 - 11:01pm

“None of us needs a judge or an executive order to make smart decisions for ourselves in our families,” Whitmer said.

Oh really, Governor? When did you change your mind on this? Was it some time after you hit triple digits on your EO's? Or was it after the courts decided your EO's were unconstitutional? Why do you have the confidence in us now to make our own decisions?

Maybe you should have made that statement a few months ago when you had a large portion of your constituents in "lockdown" and were sending the state economy into a death spiral.

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 4:16pm

I am sick to death of this way of thinking. Whitmer may or may not come out of this smelling sweet but she is not the side of this argument that decided their interested were more important than everyone's interests. Rather than influencing the Governor's shoices by passing legislation, the legislation went crying to their judicial "mommies" and did nothing to protect the people of the state of Michigan. Instead, they put their commercial interests and those of the special interests ahead of the people.

I can't go to work for more than a couple weeks at a time without the place being closed down because someone gets sick. I can't do anything anywhere without worrying that I or someone I care about will become sick and maybe die. Had we behaved in a way that put the people ahead of businesses for llng enough and in the right ways, mabe we would not have the problem we have now and are certain to have for months to come.

Grow up you bunch of babies. If you can't wear a mask, work form home to protect those who can't, and accept sime limitations, leave. I hear Florida and Texas is happy to have you in one of their fine hospital beds.

No binky for you!
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:54pm

"Or was it after the courts decided your EO's were unconstitutional?"
Activist GOP Michigan Supreme Court legislated from the bench. Now the GOP legislature cancels work because they have covid and want to go deer hunting. If you wimpass Republicans can't or won't do your job We the People PAY you to do, step aside and let BIG GRETCH do the job! She has no problem taking on the responsibility and she has saved millions of lives only to have the meddling GOP put us in danger NOW.

Sun, 11/15/2020 - 4:34pm

Governor Whitmer doesn’t care about anybody but herself. Her tireless advocating for herself to be the vice president, her unending lies regarding the issues with the supposed gentlemen that were trying to kidnap her being our presidents fault, which they were not. His administration stopped that madness. Yet for political reasons she lied. Then she Sat ontelevision and had to 86/45 domino on her desk which was a direct threat to the president. She’s nothing but a grandstander. Many know it. She couldn’t care less about us. Now she’s going to lock down the state again based on BS numbers. Go down to the hospitals. Just like before, there are no cars in the parking lot. I drove down there today. She’s going to destroy the economy because she’s on marching orders from the people that want to reset our country. Just watch

some logic please
Mon, 11/16/2020 - 4:09pm

The Governor wasn't looking for the VP slot. And even if she was, so what? Did not Mike Pence and other publicans do the same?

And how do you tell us that " the issue with the supposed 'gentlemen' that were trying to kidnap her? How do you refer to these people as 'gentlemen'? Where is the logic behind those words?

And why beat her up for an 86/45 sign as her giving a direct threat, but not people saying the things they have about her, where action was about to be taken? And who on the left do you have to worry about in those regards? Me, with my potato launcher? That is reserved for open, empty fields and the State Capital building. And only then so that I may exercise my FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS on my second amendment which this the only one of the two allowed in. Gotta love loopholes, don't ya?

And could someone tell me the logic of what the Governors, of any State, of any persuasion think they are accomplishing by shutting things down other than slowing the spread? I still don't see the logic of how you think the Govs gain anything by shutting things down, and I don't think you can either. At least I have heard that excuse many times, but no one can explain the logic behind it, because there is none.

And if your hospital parking lot is empty? Are you sure your hospital hasn't been closed for over a year?

G Scott
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 6:55am

Where is the Republican "leadership"? Their pre-election Supreme Court gave them what they wanted... an opportunity to lead. They seem to have already squandered that. At this point the Republicans own this pandemic. Shirkey shirks...sad...

Come on, Man!
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:59pm

Just saw McBroom on Off the Record. Seems like a nice guy, but he basically said the Michigan GOP never wanted to take responsibility, just be consulted. Isn't that cute? He has funny views about masks and joked about taking extreme measures at the capitol like using plexiglass boxes. Well, something must be done. How about Zoom-style meetings to do the people's work? Now that you legislators are superspreaders, we can't just give you paid vacation during the pandemic. Put your bigboy pants on and get to work, otherwise stop obstructing the governor.

Too late
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 8:37am

If we had just faced this in the beginning we would be done with this and life would be back to normal. We should have continued with life as normal and built herd immunity right from the start. Our economy would not have been ruined along with peoples lives.

Dana Hartsock
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 5:50pm

Under that prescription, the death toll would be several times what it is now.
Even Sweden whose death toll is relatively high has only about 8% immunity following your prescription. Nowhere close to herd immunity. and their economy was even worse than the Scandinavian countries that locked down. I value life more than that.

Dana Hartsock
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 6:16pm

Let me do some quick back-of-the-envelope numbers for you. Herd immunity generally takes 60-70% of the population to have been infected, or in the case of vaccines, innoculated. So... 60% of 350,000,000 Americans is 210,000,000 million people. At a 1% fatality rate that is 2,100,000 people dead. At a 0.5% fatality rate that is only 1,050,000 people dead. Glad that is acceptable to you. It is not for me.

Trump recovered???
Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:04am

Oh the Trump approach? I think he calls it "herd mentality". It's a mental illness without a cure. Did you know mental illness can result from having had covid-19. It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome. It can also affect Trump sycophants.

Study finds 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days

Time overdue for 25th Amendment.

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 9:12am

I’m watching my son, a front-line doc since the you-know-what hit the fan in March, burning out, and I fear there are so many other doctors, nurses, therapists, etc. doing likewise. He is so discouraged by the street parties on campuses, the rebellion of people determined to dismiss such a simple act as wearing a mask, and the lack of accurate knowledge regarding the virus despite it being readily available, that he is actually contemplating quitting. What will happen if we experience massive burn-out of hospital staff?

Bless You!
Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:11am

Worse yet, what if heroes like your son die because of all the BS you mentioned, because macho men and Karens refuse to wear a mask and make small sacrifices, dwarfed by the efforts of your son and all essential workers?

Transfer of power
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:13am

Trump, you're fired! Fill a box with your personal items and leave before the New York district attorney has you taken out in cuffs.

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:32am

Shirkey and Chatfield whined and sued their way to take away the legitimate emergency powers of the governor so that THEY control our state during the pandemic only to tell us there's "nothing serious to address right now." WTF The legislature is spreading the covid, not working, going deer hunting. We should impeach them all. We would be doomed if not for governor Whitmer and the grace of God.

She Owns This
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 3:11pm

Despite her unprecedented (and unconstitutional) use of executive power, tell me by what metric has the Governor been successful? The science says she failed.

Sun, 11/15/2020 - 6:25am

Contrary to her beliefs, Whitmer was elected Governor, not queen, not despot. Even she is supposed to abide by the laws of this state. That was the oath she took, right?

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:35am

1,000,000 new Covid-19 cases in the US in the last seven days. Where is Trump, in a bunker somewhere like Saddam Hussein when he fled the people he squashed? Who is in charge of our country?

She Owns This
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:34pm

Over 8,000 dead (1/3 of those in care homes); 260,000 confirmed COVID cases; ANOTHER shortage of PPE and hospital beds 8 months into this crisis; draconian unconstitutional mandates; high employment; small businesses shuttered; schools closing again; toxic partisan politics; and promises of darker days ahead. The Governor has failed.

Dana Hartsock
Fri, 11/13/2020 - 5:56pm

She may have failed. But it took a lot of help from a lot whiny citizens who could not be bothered to take sensible precautions.

Get real!
Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:07am

Say the crybabies who took away her legal rights to protect us?

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:14am

No, she doesn't own this:
Flint water=Snyder, Emergency Manager Law
Michigan COVID deaths=Litigious Michigan GOP

Legislative failure
Sat, 11/14/2020 - 11:09am

If the Governor hadn’t issued the ‘draconian unconstitutional mandates’, where would we be now? Maybe 10,000 dead and 350,000 COVID cases, even higher unemployment and even more small businesses shuttered? The state was doing pretty well until the mandates were lifted. Since then what has the republican legislature done to protect the people in the State of Michigan from COVID? Yes, there are darker days ahead. But is is a legislative failure for failing to enact proper safeguards for the people in Michigan, not the Governor. She has already acted. Now it is time for the legislature to step to correct the doomsday, which could likely happen, you are predicting.