Michigan leaders announced 10 more cases of the new coronavirus late Thursday along with a shutdown of the state’s schools for three weeks.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with Michigan’s top medical and school officials by her side, addressed an increasingly anxious state during a late-night news conference.
The additional coronavirus cases push Michigan’s total to 12 cases, following the first two cases reported Tuesday.
“This is going to be hard, but we're going to get through this, and we're going to get through it together,” Whitmer said from the Michigan State Police Emergency Operations Center in Dimondale. “Michiganders are tough and we stick together.”
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Michigan’s 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, stretch east to west through seven counties in lower Michigan. The 10 new cases are considered “presumed” confirmed, but must still be verified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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The newest cases are:
- An adult female from Ingham County with a history of travel on a cruise. The case in Ingham county involves a senior whose history includes being aboard a cruise ship. She is hospitalized in isolation and is in stable condition, according to the Ingham County Health Department.
- The department will contact people who have been in close contact with her to assess them for symptoms and monitoring, according to the department.
- Two women from Kent County and one man, all with a history of international travel.
- A woman from Montcalm with a history of international travel.
- Two men from Oakland County; one with no travel history and one with domestic travel.
- A man from St. Clair County with a history of domestic travel.
- One woman and one man from Washtenaw County; one with a history of domestic travel and one with a history of international travel. One traveled through Europe and the other to New York, according to Washtenaw County health officials.
When the first two cases were reported earlier this week — one each in Oakland and Wayne counties — Whitmer declared a state of emergency. The state then released a 6-page list of recommendations for residents and organizations to help slow the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus’ arrival in Michigan comes as cases and deaths climb elsewhere in the nation, surpassing 1,600 cases — with 40 U.S. deaths — by the time Whitmer began her news conference Thursday.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, called the schools closure an “important measure” in slowing “community spread“ of the virus.
Responding to questions at the late-night conference, Khaldun said she worried not only about the capacity of the state to test enough people if cases continue to surge, but about Michigan hospitals’ ability to handle such a crisis. But she said the state is not yet at that point.
She and Whitmer once again called on Michiganders to wash their hands often, engage in other personal hygiene and replace handshakes with elbow bumps — a familiar refrain in recent months as coronavirus has continued to seep across national and state borders.
Both Whitmer and State Superintendent Michael Rice acknowledged that closing schools will be challenging, and Whitmer called on businesses to accommodate parents who will face child care challenges.
Despite the hardship, Rice said closing schools “is a responsible decision to keep our students, teachers, support staff, administrators, and volunteers safer and to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.”