As Michigan coronavirus cases slow, Gov. Whitmer eyes reopening economy

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she is “cautiously optimistic” the state’s coronavirus cases are leveling and the end of a state lockdown is “on the horizon.” (Photo courtesy of the governor's office)

April 24 update: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expected to extend stay-home order until May 15
April 17 update: Whitmer to begin laying out economic plan next week

Coronavirus cases in Michigan appear to be plateauing and talks are underway to eventually lift the lockdown and reopen the state, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday.

That’s welcome news for a state hammered by the pandemic, especially in southeast Michigan, which is fourth in the nation with 25,635 cases. Overall, 1,602 have died statewide from the virus as of Monday. 

Since April 3, when the state reported nearly 2,000 new cases, new positive cases have gradually declined. Michigan reported 997 new cases on Monday.

“These numbers give us reason to have some cautious optimism that the rate of increase is appearing to slow down,” Whitmer said during a news conference on Monday.

 “I say cautiously optimistic because … this is a snapshot and we need a lot more data to determine if this is a trend.”

Michigan’s lockdown has closed businesses statewide and led more than 1 million people — a quarter of the state’s workforce — to file for unemployment.

Whitmer said sustaining the plateau of COVID-19 cases is one factor that will inform her decision on reopening the state’s economy. Michigan also needs to ramp up testing and hospitals must have the resources to handle remaining cases, Whitmer said.

State officials are developing a plan to safely ease stay-home restrictions that have been in place since March 24, Whitmer said, adding the plan will likely be rolled out in phases.

“We need to get this right,” she said. “It’s going to be a data-driven approach based on facts, based on science, based on recommendations from experts, epidemiologists and economists.”

Easing up too soon could bring a second wave of cases and deaths, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. During the 1918 flu pandemic, cities that lifted restrictions too early ultimately had slower economic and public health recoveries, she said. 

"Easing up on social distancing measures too soon will be devastating," Khaldun said. "A lot more people will die and our hospital systems will get overwhelmed."

And while there are “early signs of a plateau in the rate of growth,” Khaldun said, there are still “many new cases and deaths every day” and an increase in case rates in areas including Genesee County.

There’s no public estimate on when the state could ease restrictions. Whitmer’s recently extended stay-at-home order, which orders non-essential businesses to remain closed, is currently slated to remain through the end of April. 

People who are temporarily out of work due to the closures are increasingly turning to the state for help, said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. 

Michigan has the highest number of unemployment claims in the Great Lakes region and the third-highest number in the country, behind only California and Pennsylvania. 

The influx has overloaded the state’s unemployment filing system, crashing the website multiple times, including on Monday morning.

“We are committed to making sure that every eligible Michigander who needs unemployment insurance benefits will get them,” Donofrio said, adding the state has increased staffing and invested in server capacity to try to keep up with demand.

Whitmer acknowledged widespread frustration with the state lockdown and restrictions on gardening, boating and other activities, but assured residents their end is “on the horizon.”

“We will get past this,” she said. “This is not a permanent moment.”


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Why can't we bu...
Mon, 04/13/2020 - 7:18pm

Why can't we buy paint and plants? I don't see the rationale?

It's Real
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 9:23am

COVID19 is REAL. Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is also REAL. All you ignorant fools suffer TDS. It's blind loyalty to lying Trump and his enablers. If governors and/or local officials didn't crack down with stay at home orders, we'd be in even worse shape. Whitmer is doing a great job. A slow measured approach will help us greatly to avoid having another total shutdown. Unless you work for Fauci, quit pretending to be experts in infectious disease and pandemics. Lastly, quit whining, you Snowflakes!

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:20am

TDS doesn't mean what you think it means, you might be TDS positive yourself.

Ask Amash
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:24pm

You suffer TDS, lust for the Trump.

Amash should pass on a run for the presidency and try to keep his U.S. House seat, said Jeff Timmer, a longtime Republican consultant in Michigan who has broken with the party and opposes Trump.

Running for president as a Libertarian would be a "fool's errand," he said.

"Any vote that doesn’t go to Joe Biden is a vote for Donald Trump," said Timmer, who plans to vote for Biden.

“If he truly respects the constitutional authority that governs this country, Donald Trump has to lose this election," Timmer said of Amash. "Joe Biden is the only option.”

John Kling
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 2:54pm

Trump's style does generate a lot of hate. On policy Trump is generally moderate. This did not escape Trump's Republican opposition in the 2016 election often denounced Trump as not being a conservative. Trump's pro worker policies are central in the respond to the virus.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 8:41pm

Agree he is TDS positive. Lol. What a fool he sounds like. This lady is take the freedom right form us. Get her out of office.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:20pm

You obviously have no clue what TDS is because it is YOU who are suffering from it.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:22pm

So you replied but not in a way that answers the question as to why we can't buy paint and seeds? Instead you went on a rant about a syndrome that you suffer badly from.

Rachel N
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 12:12am

You are speaking blindly. No facts back up what you are saying. I am on the liberal end of things; I didn't vote for Trump; Didn't vote for Hillary either. Didn't care for either of them. What I do know is that this "TDS" you speak of is an ailment of my(our?) side, and not the republican side, and I'm also very willing to bet that the hate you feel for Trump is equal to the blind love you felt for Obama, whom I also did not like and did not vote for (I hate all politicans equally, it's only fair). There are so many contradictions in your post that I don't even know where to start. Go to bed.

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 11:42am

You called it. These attacks are Shirkey is no better than Trump with his multitude of distortions and lies.

John Kling
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 2:48pm

This is a reasonable point. The increase in risk seems small - and there are benefits. Some of the policy seem to be focused on not allowing any to escape the standard dose of suffering and allowing better off people escape their share of suffering. Those that have two homes are not being allowed to change locations. It hard to see that large risk arise when a non infected person relocates to their vacation home - but this is an opportunity not available to many low income people.

Kevin Grand
Mon, 04/13/2020 - 7:27pm

So when will Gov. Karen start foregoing her own paycheck since she is a non-essential employee?

Better throw in her entire cabinet as well for good measure.

Therese R
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 4:25am

Agreed. She has no idea what she is doing, or what Michigan needs in leadership. She has been nothing but destructive, and I am ashamed that she is our governor.
If any of us performed so badly at our job, we would be fired.

Big Gulp
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 9:33am

Up at 4AM? Where do you work, Seven Eleven? Do you still like Trump? I've been ashamed of him and his behavior. He now says that only he can make all the decisions about shutting down and openning up the economy. So I guess he is finally taking responsibility for everything. How refreshing!

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:23pm

Ever hear of third shift jobs? Why are you people so nasty?

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 10:35am

Because we're sick to death of insufferable dunces like you?

middle of the mit
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 3:19am

You should hear what conservatives say about me posting this late!!

They just tell me I am a drunk! But then have hard a time refuting what I say........even if I am drunk....


But wait a minute! I am also high on cannabis!

So what does that say about their cognitive abilities?

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 9:28am

Don't know what that's supposed to mean, but our governor, Whitmer, is working hard, unlike the legislature. They are paralyzed. To tell you the truth, I would increase their pay if they would stop making this situation worse by impeding the governor's efforts.

Mon, 04/13/2020 - 8:16pm

New COVID-19 diagnoses are declining in Michigan, but only because Michigan's COVID-19 testing program is in some kind of decline. The number of analyzed Michigan COVID-19 tests has been generally declining since April 1st. This decline does not prove that COVID-19 cases are diminishing in the Michigan population, just that the testing program is snarled.

Using data from the website, you can calculate the Pearson Correlation Coefficient (aka R Squared Value) of total Michigan COVID-19 diagnoses with total tests performed in Michigan, by day, in calendar order. Most spreadsheet programs have internal subroutines to calculate R Squared.

The correlation is + 0.805.

R Squared is a dimensionless decimal fraction number that can range from -1 to 0 to +1. -1 is perfect inverse correlation, 0 is no correlation, and +1 is perfect correlation. Values above 0.25 (positive or negative) demonstrate significant correlation in real world data sets. Values above 0.5 are so strong that they are rarely encountered in real world data sets.
In this instance, 80% of the variation in Michigan's total COVID-19 diagnoses were due to fluctuations in the numbers of tests performed.

More on the Pearson Correlation Coefficient, here:

No correlation
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:00am

What's your point? Testing is actually starting to finally increase and results are coming in quicker. It's all about flattening the curve so the hospitals are not overwhelmed with too many patients at once. Beaumont is conducting major research on antibodies. We are not "curing" anyone. It has to take its course because we have no vaccine. We are just trying to manage the damning effects as best we can.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 11:32am

The story lede: "Coronavirus cases in Michigan appear to be plateauing and talks are underway to eventually lift the lockdown and reopen the state, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday."

There is an unseemly correlation between testing frequency and the number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Michigan. This is probably the result of scarcity in one or more elements of testing, or doctors are only scripting the tests for really sick people and bigwigs. So the Michigan COVID-19 case counts are not as useful as the case counts from a State like Massachusetts which is doing really intensive, widespread testing.

The only reason cases seem to be plateauing in Michigan is that testing has fallen off. The case count does not prove that actual cases of COVID-19 are becoming less common in Michigan. Our continuing high level of mortality indicates that we have a lot of undiagnosed COVID-19 cases. It is a trailing indicator, but a good indicator nonetheless.

It is premature to be tempting the public with an end to the lockdown, before we actually know what the actual density of cases are in the different regions of Michigan. The Governor should be making these decisions with real information, not hope.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:26pm

Did Trump fire Fauci yet? He explains better. Guess it's all his training.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:30pm

"It is premature to be tempting the public with an end to the lockdown, before we actually know what the actual density of cases are in the different regions of Michigan." You like it all ways to Sunday: Closes it down, open it up, no not now later. Sorry I don't swing that way.

Captain Caveman
Mon, 04/13/2020 - 9:23pm

Keep it closed down. The stimulus was to help people through this. If tax payers owe 6 trillion then at least let them stay alive.

Caveman Right
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:01am


Rachel N
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 12:13am

Move to china, communist. You don't belong here.

John Glenn
Mon, 04/13/2020 - 9:57pm

So where is the data? I'm getting pretty sick of hearing about how all these elected officials are making all these decisions based on "data-driven" approaches, and then they don't release the data they are using. Or even worse, they release the data (like all these models) and it's off by a factor of several thousand.

During my time studying communism, I learned a lot about how they used to run the Soviet economy by using these same sorts of experts. These commissars have degrees that they bought from fancy universities and jobs in those same universities, and they sit and publish "data" that no one can see. If things go against what they predicted, they claim victory. If things go the way they predicted, they claim victory. Either way, these 'experts' who know nothing look down on the mere serfs in the fields who are losing their jobs and sneer about how smart they are.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 9:39am

Completely agree. She continually presents alternative facts and refers to some UM model that isn't publicly available for review. The daily cases and deaths is actually tracking the IHME model closely which Witmer is ignoring, so much for using 'science'.

Original Facts
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:39pm

The professionals don't need analysis coming from your Mom's basement. Elections have consequences.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 12:30pm

You don't seriously believe that any self-respecting pharmaceutical company would actually trust a medical doctor with statistics, do you? MDHHS made a hash out of their addition this past weekend reporting Michigan coronavirus cases on the 12th.

The technical heads in the pharmaceutical industry are all statisticians like Navarro and chemists like Andersag, who invented chloroquine. The medical doctors either work for the government, devising methods to keep useful drugs off the market, or in private practice, sucking up free lunches from drug salesmen.

Navarro Nuts
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:35pm

Bigot! Your hyperbole might look good in the drag club, but just looks like a drama queen here. Obviously you don't know what it takes to become a physician. Yes, the training also requires stats, fool!

middle of the mit
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 3:46am

Ohh hell NO!

Trust a doctor who has an MD by their name? That's crazy talk!

We are going to go with the person who has a PHd behind their name, and it is in Mammonism!

Ummi Zoomie
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:41pm

If I understand your argument correctly Tsss, you are saying that the only person who is allowed to have a say on anything health related is a Doctor. I think that means you can't comment on anything, unless you are a doctor at the same level of Fauci. In fact, your argument suggests that you can't comment on anything at all, except of course whatever you are a renowned expert on. Your argument sucks- other people matter and other people's opinions matter, and experts are wrong as often as they are right. Screw the so-called experts and their faulty models and bad data.

Jackson Brown
Mon, 04/13/2020 - 11:24pm

Is this the same press conference where she accused Betsy DeVos of sponsoring an upcoming protest on Wednesday in Lansing because she thinks its inappropriate to be playing politics at a time like this? Even though DeVos isn't supporting the group that is sponsoring it (the Michigan Conservative Coalition is) nor has she ever given any money to the organization, the Governor still used her news conference to attack Betsy and accuse her of spreading "demonstrably false information", even though it is demonstrably false information that Betsy was spreading that information. Does the Governor have no shame at all? Can't she stop with the political attacks for a moment? When will the Governor stop with the constant partisan attacks and blaming everyone?

Hello Kitty
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:11am

In Japan we call posts like yours: wind rustling in the trees.
In other words, inconsequential noise.

Tom B
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 11:39pm

In Michigan, where the Gov. accusations got about 3 news cycles of press and as a result, credibility.
The post you discounted was anything but wind going through trees.
It was disputing lies told by the Gov.
Your posting however...........

Kitty Kat
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 11:52pm

I'm sure in your native country of China, it would be inconsequential noise. But in Michigan, it seems to be just yet another piece of evidence to the narrative that Michigan's Governor attacks others and casts blame in an attempt to raise her national profile rather than focus on putting in place the best policies for the citizens of Michigan. But if I were you, I'd try to dismiss any data or news that doesn't fit the Narrative, so I understand where you are coming from.

Kim kelly
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 7:41am

It should definitely stay closed , reopening with lawn care , construction , ext... Do we really need to buy clothes at this time ,,,last thing should be where big gatherings department stores Malls , restaurants

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:17am

You are right. We have to open with care. That's why we gave out all those trillions of dollars. Opening too much too quickly will undermine all our hard work and sacrifices. More people will die, all at once, and our economy will continue to suffer more than need be. Besides most of us probably put on some weight eating comfort foods! : (

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:38pm

Do we really need to be buying clothes at this time? You don't have kids, do you. Their spring clothes from last year won't fit them this year.

Susie Que
Tue, 04/21/2020 - 6:29pm

If they stay closed any longer, you might not have to worry about them opening up again. The malls were on the verge of collapse already, and now that more of the anchor stores are bankrupt, they'll surely go under and all those workers will lose their jobs. You should also be happy to know (although I'm not) that restaurants are also going bankrupt all over the nation, wiping out the life savings of millions of small businessmen and taking out thousands of more jobs. Your beliefs and opinions and votes are leading to unimaginable economic destruction and the destruction of thousands and thousands of people's lives. Maybe 80K people will die of this virus when it's all said and done, but 80K will indeed die from the policies enacted by government that will lead to increased drug and alcohol abuse, more suicides, delays in cancer screenings, postponement of preventive medicine, and a rise in domestic abuse. Kim, you're part of the problem, not the solution.

A Yooper
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 9:17am

Re-opening must be done only when we are certain it is on the wane for good. And that's a call the Governor will make based on good health intel.
There are re-occurrences in China and Japan now so if we stay the course and use medical information as difficult as it is to acquire to avoid having to shut down at a later time.
Remember the old Fram Oil filter commercial: You can pay me now or pay me later?
If any of you have a lick of common sense, that should explain it all.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:46pm

That's what I'm thinking. Great minds think alike.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 9:59am

Dear Governor Whitmer,
You have made National news in the way you have handled your draconian measures of the shut down, yet you refuse to back off.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:43pm

Crazy, right? She's a national celeb being considered for VP!

Eric Snow
Sat, 04/18/2020 - 5:24pm

John, have you ever thought about the fact that making national news wasn't a bug of her policies, but was the function of her policies? She isn't trying to do the best thing for Michigan- she's trying to get a VP nod because she knows that Dementia Joe isn't going to last 4 years and she'll then get to be President Karen without ever having done anything of note. She's got a great plan, just just admire it- the only thing that can derail her from controlling your life is you, and she's got a plan to keep you locked down as long as possible.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:56am

How is not buying paint stoping the spread of the virus?? Just another mind control wake up people u cant even grow.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:45pm

People fall off ladders, inhale fumes, etc. and end up in the ER taxing our healthcare system. So stop whining. It's not the end of the world.

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 7:52am

That happens, what, a few times a year? And the hospitals have so much room right now it wouldn't even matter. You aren't thinking this through.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:57am

For heaven's sake! Enough! Lay off the Governor and stay home. To all the people complaining about the shut down: 1. Do you want to be the source of this virus (since you can have it and not have symptoms) pass it along , and kill a stranger or someone you love ? 2. Do you want to expose yourself to this so you can die? 3. Do you not have ANYone in your life over age 60 that you care about and want to keep them safe? 4. Do you not understand how horrific it is to die of this--unable to breathe and with no family around? 5. WHAT do not understand about the DANGER of this virus? Read some science and some history of the 1918 flu pandemic. COVID-19 is FAR MORE contagious than the flu.

Shopping because you are bored, playing group sports at the park, non-stop visiting between households spreads this thing. How hard is it to simply act as a good citizen and stay home? Seriously??? This virus is like someone urinating peeing in a pool. You can be at the other end of the pool, but eventually the noxious substance will reach you. It travels.

If this is the hardest thing you ever have to do in your life is to stay home, not go to your cottage, not buy paint, etc., you are extremely fortunate. No one likes this but staying home is critical for safety. Your freedom to run around like times are normal ends where my freedom to stay healthy and alive begins.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:27pm

Oh for the love of your god, shaddup.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:57pm

No kidding, Rose. It's not like we're asking these snowflakes to serve their country in deadly combat.

We're just telling these adults acting like bratty little privileged kids to stay out of the pool for awhile.

Good analogy to the pool, but let's make it more visual/relatable.

COVID19 is like when a toddler has a blowout of diarrhea in the pool. Even though it seems invisible because it's diluted, you're still going to get some in your mouth. It might taste funny, but you could get violently sick. So just STAY OUT OF THE POOL, until it's shocked/cleaned.

I think even most little kids are reasonable and can understand that. IDK about hardcore GOP doofuses suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome though.

Rachel N
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 12:15am

If you are afraid of the virus, then stay home in a little bubble and don't go out. I don't care if I am the source of the virus. I've been going out almost every day and nobody can stop me. Judging by the number of people at the stores that are open, I am in the majority. This shutdown is giant joke. Quit acting like a communist, you are gross.

To Nasty Rachel
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 9:48pm

No, Rachel, you are gross and evil. You don't get it, but if someone like you infects others with your wanton behavior, you should be convicted and jailed for manslaughter. You have no self respect or morals.

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 2:02am

Thank you Rose, very well said. We are pretty much being asked to sit home, watch Netflix and eat Cheetos, and you are all complaining??!! Get over yourself!!!
You people are acting like we are being asked to stay home for a year! It’s WEEKS people, maybe a couple of months. But that couple of months will save your life, the life of a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor. Wake up, it’s reality that this virus spreads like fire! Do you want you or a loved one to be in a body bag stacked on other body bags in temporary refrigerated trailers???????
If we were being told to just go live like normal you would then be bashing them for not caring about the American people.
I’m a republican, but I do agree with Whitmer’s decision to stay home. We need to do just that, and save lives, otherwise what’s going on right now will still be happening 4 months from now.
So be fortunate for this time, concentrate on what you DO have right now, not what you DON’T have. While you so badly miss your freedom to go buy paint or golf, remember the millions of people that are terribly missing their loved ones who died alone with no loved ones with them and didn’t stand a chance with this deadly virus.

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 7:54am

"We are pretty much being asked to sit home, watch Netflix and eat Cheetos, and you are all complaining??!! Get over yourself!!!"
So Kelly, just how obese are you? Like to complain a lot? Collecting any government benefits?
Do you realize that most conservatives would rather be working their job than "sit home, watch Netflix and eat Cheetos"?

middle of the mit
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 12:20pm

Grocery stores, gas stations and hospitals are all hiring right now. So is Amazon.

Please show us your innovation, ingenuity and creativeness by applying for one of those jobs today.

Serve your country proudly.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:19pm

I wish Biden would hurry up and announce his VP pick so that she would do what she feels she needs to do. The audition needs to come to an end.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 7:07pm

I don't know if people realize this or not but the season can't be stopped and people need to plant their stuff. I think we should be able to work in our yard. I honestly believe that this has been taken way too far people are starving.

Eve Lyons
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 11:25am

I am truly sick of your stay at home order mad woman Gretchen Whitmer it should be witchmore. You need to give us back our rights to go about as we please. This is ridiculous your highness your acting like a dictator.

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 11:40am

613,886 cases.2 26,047 deaths—more than any other country worldwide.3 Yesterday, an American died every 16 minutes from the coronavirus.4 And the virus continues to spread with astonishing speed in most places.
I'll stick with the Governor's judgement. She doesn't deserve the criticism the GOP is stirring up for purely political maneuvering.

John Kling
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 2:38pm

It is important to get people back to work. Unemployment rates will soon exceed those of the great depression. A treatment for the disease would help tremendously. A central strategy should be to isolate the old and highly vulnerable in order to allow those that have been previously exposed, lower age and healthy to rapidly return to work.

Scott W Wood
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 4:08pm

Isn't that sign in the photo the American-Sign-Language for %&#$ you up the @$%??

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 10:31pm

They need to take precautions before opening up the State for business.