Coronavirus Tracker: 199 new confirmed cases as 'positive' tests hit a low

Last updated: Tuesday, June 2, at 3:28 p.m. This post will be continuously updated with Michigan coronavirus locations and updated COVID-19 news.

 

For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard, showing case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics. 

 

There were 199 confirmed cases of coronavirus recorded Tuesday morning, the state Department of Health and Human Services said.

Of the 37 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, 11 were identified during a Vital Records review.

The low numbers come a day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted her stay-at-home order, clearing the way  for large gatherings and announcing plans to allow restaurants, bars and retail stores to open within the week. 

There were 32 new cases recorded at the Michigan Department of Corrections, 29 in Kent County, 14 in Calhoun County and 13 in Macomb County. The city of Detroit had 10 new cases. 

Positive tests hit a new low. On May 31, the last date for which data are available, just 2.4 percent of the 9,256 tests administered were positive. Since March, 12 percent of coronavirus tests administered showed a positive result.

Michigan’s minority and older residents continue to be disproportionately represented in the number of deaths from the coronavirus. Approximately 45 percent of coronavirus patients are younger than 50, the data show, but less than 5 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The average age of the deceased is 75.4.


Monday, June 1

Michigan confirms 135 new cases, 25 deaths

Michigan recorded 135 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 25 deaths on Monday, a sharp decline from the 513 cases recorded a day earlier.

Although new weekend cases tend to be low, Sunday’s numbers were the highest in two weeks.

Since the initial outbreak in Michigan in mid-March, 57,532 have been sickened with the coronavirus and 5,516 residents have died.

The increase in cases was led by Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, which recorded 33 new cases in the last 24 hours. Detroit, which has shown an uptick in testing, recorded 17 new cases.

Of the 13,304 tests administered in the state on May 30, the latest date for which data are available, 3.7 percent were positive.

Michigan’s minority and older residents continue to be disproportionately represented in the number of deaths from the coronavirus. Approximately 45 percent of coronavirus patients are younger than 50, the data show, but less than 5 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The average age of the deceased is 75.4.

African Americans comprise 14 percent of the state population but make up 31 percent of the confirmed cases and 40 percent of the deaths.


Michigan auto insurers orders to issue refunds, waivers

Michigan drivers won’t pay as much as they thought for auto insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All auto insurers in Michigan have been ordered to issue refunds or premium waivers to their customers as a result of insurance companies’ reduced risk “due to extreme reductions in driving,” according to the state.

“Michiganders have been staying safe and staying home and they should see the benefit in reduced auto insurance rates during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday. 

The order sets a deadline of June 10 for insurers to submit filings that include the refund or premium waiver amount, information on how that amount was determined, and how consumers will receive payments, according to a news release.

Insurance companies also will have to show their communication plans to inform customers about the refund. That will also have to include options available to those with long-term changes in driving habits, like if they’ve been laid off or are telecommuting.

The Department of Insurance and Financial Services can assist consumers with questions or disputes that cannot be directly resolved with their insurer. Contact DIFS Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 833-ASK-DIFS (275-3437) or by emailing autoinsurance@michigan.gov.

The premium waivers or refunds are in addition to any savings resulting from the upcoming changes to Michigan’s auto insurance law as of July 1. — Paula Gardner


Sunday, May 31

Michigan cases jump to 513 as Detroit reports 104 new cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 513 Sunday, the highest weekend count in two weeks, driven in part by just over 100 positive tests in Detroit.

Detroit, which has been the hardest hit city in the state, hadn’t recorded over 100 positive tests since May 14 and had averaged just 48 in the days since, though there has been increased testing in the city at the state fairgrounds.

Detroit, the state's largest city, recorded 104 cases Sunday and since the pandemic started, Detroit has recorded 11,041 confirmed cases, by far the most in the state but also by far the most per 100,000 people (1,648; the state as a whole is at 575 per 100,000).

Oakland (77) and Macomb (71) counties also saw cases hit their highest since May 14, with Kent recording 73 cases.

Statewide, deaths rose 28 to 5,491. 

The percent of positive reported tests, which are from May 29, rose for the fourth straight day to 6.6 percent, up from 6.2 percent. However, epidemiologists consider rates below 10 percent to be an indication the virus’ spread is being controlled. The rate had hit 3.4 percent on May 24 and 25 and has risen since.

— Mike Wilkinson


Saturday, May 30

The number of new coronavirus cases fell to 263 Saturday, bringing the seven-day average to 360, the lowest since March 26. The state reported 607 cases on Friday.

Overall the state reported 57 COVID-19 deaths, 37 of which were from a review of death certificates.

Of the confirmed cases, well over half — 163 — were reported by the state prison system. Kent County reported 46, the next highest but well below what the west Michigan county had experienced seven to 10 days earlier.

There were only eight reported cases in Detroit, which has nearly 11,000 total, and 19 in suburban Wayne County.

Weekend reports have typically been lower than weekday reports.


Friday, May 29

Michigan falls to fifth for states with most COVID-19 deaths

Michigan health officials recorded 607 new coronavirus cases on Friday, 200 more than a day earlier. The new figures bring the total number of cases to 56,621.

Of the 38 new deaths in the last 24 hours, 17 were identified during a Vital Records review, the state said. All told, Michigan has recorded 5,406 deaths since March.

Michigan, the state’s 10th most populous state had long been the state with the fourth most deaths in the nation. It’s been surpassed by Pennsylvania as New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts hold the first three spots.

Michigan’s older residents continue to be disproportionately represented in the number of deaths from the coronavirus. Approximately 45 percent of coronavirus patients are younger than 50, the data show, but less than 5 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The average age of the deceased is 75.3.


Whitmer to testify on COVID-19 before congressional panel

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will testify by video before a congressional panel on Tuesday as part of a hearing on “how governors are battling the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Govs. Jared Polis of Colorado and Asa Hutchinson of  Arkansas are also expected to testify remotely before the Democratic-led U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“The hearing will examine states’ responses to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, including efforts to increase testing capacity,” according to a staff memorandum.

The subcommittee on oversight and investigations is examining COVID-19 testing challenges, contact tracing capacity and supply shortages, among other topics, according to the memo. 

The hearing is set for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and will be live streamed online. — Jonathan Oosting


S.E. Michigan pools close indefinitely 

Pools will remain closed indefinitely in southeast Michigan to continue the clampdown on the spread of COVID-19, according to public health orders issued Thursday.

The order applies to pools at apartments, condominiums, and hotels as well as dive pools, wave pools, and water slide pools. The pool water, itself, “poses a low risk of transmitting COVID-19,” but pools encourage large crowd gatherings that might cause a spike in cases that, in turn, could delay schools from opening this fall, according to a joint statement from Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Detroit health officials.

“As regional leaders, we are committed to doing the right thing, and closing pools is the right thing to do to protect the health and safety of residents and prevent the spread of the virus,” according to the statement.

Therapy pools used strictly for treatment in health care settings are excluded from the orders.


Thursday, May 28

Michigan reports 406 new cases, 38 deaths

The state reported 406 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, 98 fewer than a day earlier.

Of the 38 deaths reported by health officials on Thursday, 14 were identified during a Vital Records review, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

The increases bring the total number of cases to 56,014 and the death toll to 5,372.

African Americans continue to be disproportionately represented among coronavirus patients. Comprising about 14 percent of the population, blacks represent 31 percent of statewide COVID-19 cases and 40 percent of the deaths.

More than 45 percent of COVID patients are younger than 50 but those in that age group make up 5  to 6 percent of coronavirus deaths.

Michigan public health officials recently altered how they report positive coronavirus tests in the state, changes that show fewer people have been infected in recent weeks than previously reported.

Of the 10,152 Michiganders administered a test on May 26, the latest date for which data are available, 3.5 percent tested ‘positive.”  Since March 10, 13 percent who’ve been tested for COVID-19 have tested positive.


Michigan isn’t seeing decline in claims for jobless benefits

Michigan continues to see tens of thousands of workers file for unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus-inspired economic downturn.

Initial filings for the week ending May 23 totaled 57,714, an increase of 999 from the previous week, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Since mid-March, at least 1.8 million Michigan residents have sought jobless benefits.

Across the United States, initial claims reached 2.123 million, dropping 323,000 from the previous week. 

“We are seeing a big decline in the new claims each week,” said Donald Grimes, an economist for the University of Michigan. “I think that will continue. Part of this process is that our economy is hitting bottom and probably on its way back up.”

Yet Michigan is still plateauing and not declining, signaling how the state often trails other states when it comes to recovering from job loss.

Michigan has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 22.7 percent, according to April data released last week. It follows Nevada, which has 28.2 percent of its workforce approved for benefits. Hawaii is just behind Michigan, with 22.3 percent of workers receiving benefits.

Some areas of the state are feeling the pressure more acutely. An analysis by Bridge Magazine in April showed manufacturing centers of Detroit, Macomb County and the I-69 corridor in the Thumb Region were hit harder than counties like Kent and Washtenaw, which have diversified economies. Recent estimates by U-M say that up to 43 percent of Detroit residents may have lost their jobs.

Michigan workers who are not normally eligible for unemployment benefits are now allowed to apply, based on federal CARES Act guidelines. They include part-time workers, contract workers and “gig” workers. Furloughed workers also are eligible for temporary benefits.

Meanwhile, the state is warning unemployment benefit recipients that large scale fraud attempts have been attempted against state unemployment programs. Officials have initiated “stop payment” notices on some accounts, signaling that claimants need to provide further identity verification and eligibility authentication. Emails and letters have been mailed to people affected, according to the Unemployment Insurance Agency. — Paula Gardner


More than 62,000 health workers sickened with COVID-19

At least 62,000 U.S. health care workers — but most likely many more — have been infected with COVID-19, according to a new estimate by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The partial data, released Wednesday, breaks down the 1.3 million cases across the nation by daily counts, by state, and by age. But the data were incomplete. Less than half of the cases listed ethnicity, for example. 

Just 21 percent included information about whether they worked in health care. Still, in that slice of the total case count, there were 62,690 cases of COVID-19 among health care workers, including 294 deaths.

It’s equally not clear how many health care workers in Michigan have been sickened by COVID-19, though some — including those who nearly died from the infection — have now returned to work or remain at home with weeks or months of recovery ahead.

Spokespersons for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association have told Bridge they are not tracking those cases.


State reports 504 new cases, 68 deaths

The state reported 504 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, more than double the 223 cases reported a day earlier.

Of the 68 deaths reported on Wednesday, 14 were identified during a Vital Records review, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

The increases bring the total number of cases to 55,608 and the number of deaths to 5,334.

African Americans continue to be disproportionately represented among coronavirus patients. Comprising about 14 percent of the population,blacks represent 31 percent of statewide COVID-19 cases and 40 percent of the deaths.

MDHHS said  today it is expanding testing criteria for COVID-19 to include more residents who are asymptomatic. Michiganders preparing for surgery will be eligible for testing if a doctor deems it medically necessary. The new criteria also includes asymptomatic people who have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or those who work in a profession that puts them at high risk of exposure due to close contact with the public, the state said in a news release.

Of the 9,196 Michiganders administered a test on May 25, the latest date for which data are available, 3.4 percent tested ‘positive.”  Since March 10, 13.2  percent who’ve been tested for COVID-19 have tested positive. 

“As we reopen Michigan’s economy, expanded testing is critically important so that we can track any spread of COVID-19 in regions or local communities,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said in the release. — Monica Williams


Tuesday, May 26

The state of Michigan reported 223 new coronavirus cases and 26 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Confirmed cases are continuously declining in southeast Michigan, the epicenter of COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s medical executive, said in a news conference. They’re also declining in southwest Michigan, and remain low in the upper Peninsula.

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, continues to be hardest hit, with about 40 cases per million residents daily, Khaldun said. Kent County reported 35 new cases on Tuesday, an increase of 517 cases in the last seven days.  Detroit had 91 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, an increase of 359 cases in the last week. 

On Sunday, the state reported the fewest number of deaths since March, with just five. The numbers have steadily fallen since the peak of the pandemic in late March and early April but weekend reporting numbers have typically been lower than weekday reports.

Of the 11,484 tests administered statewide on May 24, the last date for which data are available, just 3.4 percent showed a ‘positive’ result, the lowest since March. — Monica Williams


Monday, May 25

Michigan deaths plummet to lowest level in two months

New daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus fell to the lowest level since mid-March, with just 202 new cases reported Monday, along with 12 deaths.

Weekend reporting has typically been lower than weekday reports but Monday's new infection numbers continue a downward trend as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has reopened some regions and economic sectors in the state.

Just five deaths were reported on Sunday, the lowest since March 22.

All told, Michigan has recorded 5,240 deaths from COVID-19. The state, which is the 10th most populous, ranks 8th in total confirmed cases, with 54,881. –  Mike Wilkinson


Sunday, May 24

Michigan public health officials have altered how they report positive coronavirus tests in the state, changes that show fewer people have been infected in recent weeks than previously reported.

The change, announced this weekend, doesn’t not lower the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, which rose by 314 on Sunday to 54,679. But it shows that the percentage of people who have tested positive for an active infection has fallen further than earlier reported.

Before the change, the state reported that 7.7 percent tests were positive in the last week. With the change, that percentage falls to 6.7 percent, with the most recent day reported, Friday, standing at 4.2 percent.

A lower rate of positive tests is good news because it suggests testing is more widespread and the virus is better contained.

Michigan, like many states, had until now combined the number of people who tested positive for an active infection with those for whose tests indicated they had previously contracted COVID-19.

The latter test, called a serology or antibody test, detects antibodies tied to previous exposure to the virus and suggests the person has recovered and is not likely to spread the virus. 

Here’s why it’s important: One of the metrics Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has used to gradually reopen the economy is whether the percent of people who test positive for COVID-19 steadily falls and remains below 10 percent. Michigan had seen positive tests fall for weeks but, on May 13, the state reported that it had spiked to 13.2 percent.

It turns out that jump was based on the inclusion of nearly 6,500 serology tests, of which 35 percent were positive. The actual positive test rate for people with an active infection that day was 5.3 percent, the new numbers show.

By combining the results from two tests, it can make it look like more tests are being conducted and widespread testing has been a goal to reopen more of the economy. But to control the spread of the virus, public health officials need to be able to accurately track who currently has the virus, separate from those who have recovered. 

Combining results from those two tests led epidemiologists to recently criticize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gathers COVID-19 data from the states and was likewise combining the tests in its reporting. In addition to Michigan, health officials in Virginia, Texas, Georgia and Vermont also said they would separate the two tests.

Michigan made the change in its daily data release Saturday and sent a press release later Saturday during the holiday weekend explaining the change.

“Accuracy and transparency are paramount as we continue to respond to this pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We continue to expand and improve data reporting to make sure the public understands where their community stands with the COVID-19 outbreak.”

On Sunday, the state reported the fewest number of deaths since March, with just 5. The numbers have steadily fallen since the peak of the pandemic in late March and early April but weekend reporting numbers have typically been lower than weekday reports. — Mike Wilkinson


Friday, May 22

Michigan continued its downward trend on coronavirus cases and deaths on Friday, reporting 403 new cases and 29 deaths. Testing remains high with one of the lowest percentages of positive tests yet.

With the state’s numbers trending downward, it is poised to be passed by other states, including Texas and Pennsylvania, where case counts have been rising. Michigan now ranks seventh in cases and fourth in deaths nationwide.

For just the fifth time since widespread testing began, Michigan reported over 17,600 tests on May 20, the most recent numbers available, with just 6.3 percent being positive.

Public health advocates say when the percentage falls below 10 percent it is easier to track new outbreaks. At the height of the pandemic in Michigan, as many as 40 percent of tests were positive in early April.

The good news comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has reopened parts of northern Michigan and relaxed some of the restrictions across the state at the onset of the Memorial Day weekend.


Thursday, May 21

Michigan reported 501 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 69 deaths in data released Thursday afternoon.

The new figures bring totals to 53,510 cases and 5,129 deaths since the first state’s report in March.

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, had 109 new confirmed cases on Thursday, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. Detroit had 59 new cases (down from 82 the previous day) while there were 62 new cases reported by the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The state continues to ramp up testing. There were 18,359 tests administered on May 19, an increase of more than 4,000 tests given the previous day. Of the total tests administered, 6.6 percent tested positive for COVID-19. In recent days, more counties, such as Wayne and Oakland County are now offering free COVID-19 testing to all adults at drive-thru testing sites.

Michigan’s older residents continue to be disproportionately represented in the number of deaths from the coronavirus. Approximately 45 percent of coronavirus patients are younger than 50, the data show, but less than 5 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The average age of the deceased is 75.3. 

African Americans continue to be disproportionately represented in COVID-19 cases statewide. While blacks comprise 14 percent of Michigan’s population, they are 31 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases and 40 percent of reported deaths.


Wednesday, May 18

Michigan reported 659 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 43 new deaths in data released Wednesday afternoon.

The new figures bring the state’s total to 53,009 confirmed cases and 5,060 deaths since March. 

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, had 102 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. Detroit had 82 new cases while there were 73 new cases from the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Michigan’s older residents continue to be disproportionately represented in the number of deaths from the coronavirus. Approximately 45 percent of coronavirus patients are younger than 50, the data show, but less than 5 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The average age of the deceased is 75.3. 

African Americans continue to be disproportionately represented in COVID-19 cases statewide. While blacks comprise 14 percent of Michigan’s population, they are 31 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases and 40 percent of reported deaths.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants 450,000 Michiganders to be tested for the coronavirus this month, an average of nearly 15,000 a day, a crucial goal as more sectors of the state reopen without a vaccine. On May 18, the last date for which data are available, 14,321 COVID-19 tests were administered statewide. Of that total, 7 percent tested ‘positive.’


Tuesday, May 19

State reports 435 new cases, 102 new deaths

Michigan health officials on Tuesday reported 435 new cases of COVID-19 and 102 new deaths in the state.

The figures reported Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services bring the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 52,350 and the total number of deaths to 5,017.

While reported cases have slowed, Michigan still ranks fourth in the nation in COVID-19 deaths, behind New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with a fatality rate of 10 percent of confirmed cases.

Wayne County suburbs added 115 new cases while the city of Detroit logged 49. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in an interview on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon that the state’s largest city was ready for the next phase of reopening, thanks to successful social distancing by residents.

There were 71 new cases reported at Michigan Department of Corrections facilities on Tuesday. Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, had 66 new coronavirus patients.

African Americans continue to be disproportionately represented in COVID-19 cases statewide. While blacks comprise 14 percent of Michigan’s population, they are 31 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases and 40 percent of reported deaths . 

In Michigan, approximately 45 percent of coronavirus patients are younger than 50, the data show, but less than 5 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The average age of the deceased is 75.3.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants 450,000 Michiganders to be tested for the coronavirus this month, an average of nearly 15,000 a day, a crucial goal as more sectors of the state reopen without a vaccine. On May 17, the last date for which data are available, 13,539 COVID-19 tests were administered statewide. Of that total, 9.4 percent tested ‘positive.’ — Monica Williams


Monday, May 18

Health officials report 773 new cases amid enhanced MDOC testing

Health officials on Monday reported 773 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 new deaths.

The state said that 513 of the cases announced today are due to enhanced testing at Michigan Department of Corrections facilities. Of the nearly 52,000 total confirmed cases in the state, 3,051 and 57 deaths have been reported at MDOC facilities.

Elsewhere in the state, Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, added 43 new cases in the last 24 hours. Detroit’s suburbs of Wayne County also added 43. Muskegon and Ottawa counties showed 27 new cases. The city of Detroit added 20 new cases of the coronavirus. In a news conference, Mike Duggan said the state’s largest city city is “very close to being ready” for more businesses to reopen.

Earlier in the day, the governor announced the partial reopening of some areas of the state, including the Upper Peninsula and most of northern Michigan starting Friday. 

On May 15, the last date for which data are available, 19,658 COVID-19 tests were administered statewide. Of that total, 7 percent tested ‘positive.’

As of Friday, 28,234 have “recovered” from COVID-19.


Sunday, May 17

Sunday's 1-day death toll lowest since March 24

Michigan officials on Sunday reported 638 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 new deaths, bringing Michigan’s total number of confirmed cases to 51,142 and deaths to 4,891. 

Sunday marked the lowest daily statewide death count since March 24, more than seven weeks ago. While weekend tallies are often lower than weekdays, there is a continued general trend of declining cases and deaths over the last few weeks.

Just over half of the new cases (322 of 638) reported Sunday were from the Michigan Department of Corrections. MDOC spokesperson Chris Gautz said the high number of new confirmed cases is the result of a backlog of tests given to inmates at state facilities recently and now being reported by labs, and not the result of an uptick in infections.

New cases are trending downward in most of the state, with some exceptions in West Michigan. The number of confirmed cases in Berrien County jumped 34 percent in the past week; Ottawa and Muskegon counties saw increases of 30 percent in that same period. Kent County had a 24 percent increase in COVID-19 cases in the past week.


May 16

Michigan reports 425 cases, 55 deaths

Michigan officials on Saturday reported 425 new cases of COVID-19 and 55 new deaths, including 19 new deaths identified from earlier this week, bringing Michigan’s total number of confirmed cases to 50,504 and deaths to 4,880. 

The numbers continue a trend of declining cases and deaths over the last few weeks, despite a jump in cases reported Thursday due to increased testing in correctional facilities.

The City of Detroit had the highest increase in cases since Friday with 97;  Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, had 61; Wayne County, 37, Macomb, 30, and both Kalamazoo and Oakland counties, 29.

African Americans in Michigan comprise nearly a third of all coronavirus cases despite making up around 14 percent of the population. 

The overall case fatality rate is 10 percent, and the median age of those who have died is 77 years old. — Riley Beggin


Friday, May 15

Nearly 500 new cases on Friday

Michigan health officials have reported 497 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 38 new deaths.

The new numbers, released Friday afternoon, bring Michigan’s daily rate of new infections back in line with recent numbers that indicate a continual slowdown of the virus’ spread. A  backlog of test results and increased testing in correctional facilities caused a steep jump in reported cases Thursday. 

Friday’s numbers bring Michigan’s total COVID-19 toll to 50,079 confirmed cases and 4,825 deaths. 

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids in western Michigan, had 78 new cases. Detroit had 66 new cases, while the rest of Wayne County reported 46.

Another 56 new cases were reported from the Michigan Department of Corrections, which now has a total of 2,227 confirmed cases.  

The virus has disproportionately impacted people of color in Michigan, particularly black residents. As of Friday, black Michiganders represented 32 percent of the state’s cases and 40 percent of deaths, despite comprising only 14 percent of the state’s population.

Confirmed cases in Michigan have spanned across age ranges, but the vast majority of deaths -- 87 percent — have occurred in people over 60. The average age of Michiganders who have died of COVID-19 is 75.3 years old. 

The state also reported a dramatic increase in the number of daily tests conducted May 13, the most recent day for which testing data are available. The state conducted 23,647 tests on Wednesday, of which 2,531 came back positive. That’s a significant increase over the previous day, when the state administered 14,370 tests.  The percentage of positive tests also rose, to 10.7 percent. Prior to the Wednesday numbers, positive test rates had fallen for two weeks. The last time they topped 10 percent was April 30. — Kelly House


Michigan launches free emotional support hotline

Michigan residents now have a coronavirus emotional support hotline they can call to talk to counselors.

The hotline, announced Friday by the Michigan State Police, is available 24 hours a day at no cost. It is part of a federally funded grant program and is being implemented by state offices.

“Emerging or lingering anxiety, distress, irritability and loss of hope are important feelings to recognize in ourselves and others, and it can help to talk to someone,” Dr. Debra Pinals, psychiatrist and medical director for behavioral health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “If it’s helpful, the counselors can also provide callers with referrals to local mental health agencies and substance use disorder support services.” 

“Because of COVID-19, many of us are grappling with strong emotions, including anxiety, depression and fear,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “We want Michiganders to know it is okay to have these feelings – and OK to ask for help. You don’t have to carry this burden alone.” 

Counselors are available by calling 888-535-6136 and pressing 8 when prompted. Language translation is available for non-English speakers.  — Ron French


Detroit man charged for death threats against Whitmer, Nessel

A Detroit man is facing a felony criminal charge after allegedly making a “credible” threat to kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, according to the office of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. 

Robert Sinclair Tesh, 32, is charged with making a false report of threat of terrorism, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. 

He is accused of making the threat on April 14 during a social media messenger chat with “an acquaintance.” Detroit Police arrested him later that day at his home in Detroit.

The exact nature of Tesh’s alleged threat is unknown, but the charges come amid heightened tensions over Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders and her response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nessel first mentioned the pending charges Friday morning while discussing reports of violent social media posts targeting the governor. Worthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for more information. 

“The alleged facts in this case lay out a very disturbing scenario,” Worthy said in a statement.

“We understand that these times can be stressful and upsetting for many people. But we will not and cannot tolerate threats like these against any public officials who are carrying out their duties as efficiently as they can. You can disagree with their positions or their methodology, but you absolutely cannot act as this defendant allegedly acted or you will be charged criminally. — Jonathan Oosting


Thursday, May 14 

State adds 1,191 confirmed cases; testing increases

The state reported 1,191 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday afternoon, almost triple the average daily amount reported in the last week.

The state said that several factors contributed to the jump in figures, including a backlog of results being reported electronically into the Michigan Disease Surveillance System and increased testing at correctional facilities across the state. Some results from labs were entered manually, which led to a backlog, the State Police said in a news release. 

This backlog in reporting did not result in delays of notification to individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus, as those results were transmitted separately to health care providers, it said. 

The new figures bring the total to 49,582 cases and 4,787 deaths since the first case was reported by the Department of Health and Human Services on March 10.

Detroit added 191 new cases in the last 24 hours, while its suburbs of Wayne County added 190 new cases. Nearby, Oakland added 122 new cases while Macomb reported 95 new coronavirus cases.

In western Michigan, Kent County reported 181 new confirmed cases on Thursday, an increase of 551 over the last seven days.

The state tested more than 14,000 residents in a day for the first time. On May 12, the last day for which data are available, 14,242 people were tested for COVID-19. Of that total, 6.1 percent tested “positive.”


State unemployment rate is second highest in nation

The ranks of Michigan’s unemployed continue to swell as more than one third of the state’s workforce has filed for unemployment. 

That includes 47,438 new claims made in the week ended May 9, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

That reflects a slowing rate of new unemployment, with 19,961 fewer claims made this week than the week before. Still, Michigan is the state with the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, according to the federal numbers, after only California. 

Since March 15, the first week the pandemic began to force businesses closed, 1.7 million workers — 34 percent of the state’s workforce — have had to file for unemployment, state Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Steve Gray said Wednesday

“It hit us like lightning,” Gray told a legislative committee.

Nationally, jobless claims now number over 26 million over the last six weeks. Last week 2.9 million people filed claims, down from 3.2 million people the week before.


Wednesday, May 13

Michigan has 48,391 confirmed coronavirus cases

Michigan now has 48,391 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 4,714 residents have died since the state’s first case in March. Officials say the growth rate continues to slow while testing rises.

The state’s caseload grew by 370 as reported deaths increased by 40 in the last 24 hours, public health officials reported Wednesday afternoon. The state is still fourth in the nation for COVID-related deaths, behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, but hospitalizations in Michigan are on the decline.

Detroit had 76 new confirmed cases while its surrounding Wayne County suburbs had 39, Oakland added 46 new cases and Macomb reported 40 on Wednesday.

Michigan’s health department has said its goal is to test 15,000 residents daily, and 450,000 in the month of May. Of the more than 12,000 people tested for the coronavirus on May 11, the latest date for which data are available, 6.5 percent tested positive for COVID-19. The rate of patients who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 has been below 10 percent since May 1. On April 1, about 41 percent of those who received a coronavirus test, were confirmed ‘positive.’


Michigan's 31,000 state employees face furloughs

The impact of COVID-19 moved deeper into the state of Michigan’s payroll this week as 31,000 state employees now face two days of temporary unemployment per payroll period.

Michigan will participate in the federal Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) Work Share program. That will allow the impacted employees to file for unemployment benefits for the days off work. 

The state announced the plan on Wednesday. It should save the state up to $80 million in decreased wage costs, according to a news release.

However, it will cost the federal government a portion of each employees’ wages — as well as $18.6 million per week due to each impacted state employee becoming eligible for the $600 weekly CARES act payment, according to the state’s guidelines on the program.

The furloughs and wage cuts come less than a month after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration on April 22 temporarily laid off 2,903 state government employees, shaving about $5 million in payroll costs.

“As we continue to combat COVID-19, it’s clear that we’re facing unprecedented challenges that will lead to serious budget implications for the state of Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “Utilizing this federal program keeps state employees working so they can continue to provide critical services to Michiganders and protects their paychecks so they can continue to support their families.” 

Some state managers will not participate in Work Share, but will take one layoff day every other pay period resulting in an approximate 5 percent reduction in gross pay.

The temporary layoff periods will run from May 17 until July 25.

Impacted employees will retain their health insurance and other benefits and will be automatically enrolled into the unemployment system.

Last month, Whitmer announced she was taking a 10 percent pay cut and directed her executive team and cabinet appointees to take a 5 percent pay cut. 

The layoffs “do not impact anybody working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response,” according to the news release. That means law enforcement, the prison system, veterans’ homes and other key health and human services all remain fully staffed with on-site employees. — Paula Gardner


Health care insurance woes could affect over 1 million in Michigan, group says

More than 1.2 million Michigan residents may have already lost employer-based health insurance because of layoffs triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, a national health care advocacy group has estimated.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies national health care issues, said nearly 27 million people — workers and their dependents — have been affected nationwide.

But because Michigan expanded Medicaid eligibility, as allowed by the Affordable Care Act, it fares better, overall, than most other states. More than 80 percent of those losing employer-based health care would be eligible to get Medicaid or qualify for subsidized health care through the ACA, according to Kaiser.

However, that would still leave 218,000 without coverage unless they paid the full cost of insurance themselves.

Michigan has been one of the hardest hit states in the nation for job losses, with over 1.2 million workers filing for unemployment since the pandemic triggered stay-home restrictions in the state and across the nation.

If job losses continue into January, Kaiser estimates more Michigan residents would become eligible for Medicaid, leaving 61,000 uncovered who had previously had employer-based insurance, Kaiser estimated. — Mike Wilkinson


Tuesday, May 12

State reports 469 new cases, 90 new deaths

The state reported 469 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon.

Public health officials also reported 90 deaths, although some of the deaths were the result of earlier cases, the state noted. After weeks of ranking third in the nation in deaths, Michigan sits at fourth, after New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Cases and deaths have overall trended downward since the third week of April.

The western part of the state continues to add cases as growth in southeastern Michigan slows. Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, added 84 new cases on Tuesday. Detroit had 46 new confirmed cases while its surrounding Wayne County suburbs had 34, Macomb had 33 and Oakland had 32.

The state said it is working toward a goal of testing 15,000 residents daily. Of the more than 9,300 people tested for the coronavirus on May 10, the latest date for which data are available, 6.3 percent tested positive for COVID-19.

For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard, showing case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics


Former Sen. Hood dies after weeks on a ventilator

Former Sen. Morris Hood III of Detroit died Monday at the age of 54 from COVID-19 after spending weeks on a ventilator. 

Hood served from 2003 to 2008 in the Michigan House of Representatives and from 2011 to 2018 in the state Senate, a portion of which he served as Senate minority floor leader.  

Lawmakers mourned the former senator on Facebook Tuesday, remembering his kindness and deep commitment to his community. Rep. Cynthia Johnson of Detroit wrote: “Rest in peace. Rest in power. I love you.”

“Morris was a friend, a confidant and a spiritual rock for our caucus during his time in the Legislature,” Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint said in a statement. 

“Morris was at his best when he was delivering his year-end speeches, encouraging us to stay close to our loved ones and to tell people that you love them. We should honor him by doing just that, every day, especially while the coronavirus continues to steal lives too early from us.”

House Democratic Leader Christine Greig said Hood “served our state with tenacity and passion,” while AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber said he “would often call on our better angels when tempers flared too hot.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said “there was not a more loyal friend, thoughtful advisor or quicker wit.”  — Riley Beggin


Monday, May 11

414 new cases as 'positive' tests hover around 7%

The downward trend in coronavirus cases continued Monday as the state reported 414 new cases on Monday afternoon.

Public health officials also said there were 33 deaths in the last 24 hours. After weeks of ranking third in the nation in deaths, Michigan sits at fourth, after New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Cases and deaths have overall trended downward since the third week of April.

In southeast Michigan, the initial epicenter of the virus, Detroit had 65 new cases, while suburban Wayne County reported 54, Macomb added 22 and Oakland County added 16 new cases.

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, which has had 478 new cases in the last week, reported 51 new cases. 

Testing continues to increase as positive rates continue to decline. Of the 12,657 people tested for the coronavirus on May 9, the latest date for which data are available, 7 percent tested positive. So far, 290,000 people have been tested, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's medical executive said in a news conference Monday.

For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard, showing case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics. — Monica Williams


Sunday, May 10

Deaths lowest since March as testing shows positive signs

The decline in coronavirus cases and deaths continued Sunday with Michigan public health officials reporting just 25 COVID-19 deaths, the lowest level since late March. 

The state also reported 382 new coronavirus cases as increased testing continued to show fewer infections.

State officials have cautioned, however, that reports announced over the weekend are typically lower than those during the week. That said, the overall trend in cases and deaths has been downward since the third week of April.

Southeast Michigan, which has borne the brunt of the virus, saw few new cases, with Detroit reporting 77 and suburban Wayne County just 38. Combined, the two have had over 18,000 infections and nearly 2,100 deaths — over 38 percent of the state’s 47,138 cases and nearly half of the state’s 4,551 deaths.

West Michigan continued to see elevated case counts, with Kent County adding 68 on Sunday and nearly 500 for the past week. Of counties with at least 100 cases that saw case counts rise by 25 percent or more over 7 days, only Monroe (25.1 percent, from 311 to 389) was not in West Michigan.

Ottawa (which rose 41 percent to 388), Allegan (rose 33 percent to 150), Kalamazoo (rose 32 percent to 601), Berrien (rose 30 percent to 391) and Kent (rose 28 percent to 2,281) are all in West Michigan.

Testing again was strong, with more than 12,000 tests on Friday with just under 7 percent recording an infection. Experts have said that the rate of “positive” tests should be below 12 percent before reopening the economy. –  Mike Wilkinson


Saturday, May 9

As testing increases, the number of positive tests is shrinking

Michigan is testing more patients for COVID-19 than ever before but reporting the lowest positive results rate since the early days of the pandemic.

Michigan confirmed 430 new COVID-19 cases in the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. Saturday, along with 66 patient deaths and 67 previous deaths officials have since linked to the coronavirus.

The state has now confirmed 46,756 cases and 4,526 deaths since March 10, but the pace of new cases has slowed considerably in the past month as testing capacity has increased.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, along with private labs and hospitals, performed 13,882 tests on May 7, the most current day for which data is available.  That is an all-time high for the state, and the positive result rate of 7.9 percent is the lowest since March 11, when only one test was performed and came back negative.

Weekend case counts are often depressed because of limited testing, but the 430 new cases reported Saturday are the lowest total for a Saturday since March 21, when there were 238 cases. By comparison, more than 1,200 cases were confirmed on the second Saturday of April. 

The state reported 136 new COVID-19 cases in Wayne, the state’s most populous county, including 61 in the City of Detroit. Kent County in west Michigan had 78 new cases, followed by 56 in Macomb, 28 in Oakland and 20 in Ottawa.

There were 36 additional deaths reported out of Oakland County, the highest number in the state, and 27 additional deaths in Detroit. — Jonathan Oosting 

Friday, May 8


Coronavirus cases continue to slow, state reports 680 new cases

Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases grew by 680 on Friday, as deaths rose by 50.

The Michigan Department of Corrections added 88 daily new cases, a growth of 564 in the last seven days.

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids and a recent state hotspot for the coronavirus, added 535 new cases in the last week, data from the Department of Health and Human Services showed.

Overall, growth had continued to slow, particularly in Metro Detroit, the center of the epidemic at the onset of the virus.  Macomb County, in metro Detroit, had 87 new cases; the city of Detroit added 82. 

The number of people tested on May 6, the last date for which data are available, reached an all-time daily high. Of  the 13,530 people tested for COVID-19, 8 percent tested positive.

Michigan now has 46,326 confirmed cases and 4,393 related deaths. Michigan death count has fallen to fourth in the nation, following New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. — Monica Williams


Oral arguments in GOP lawsuit against Whitmer set for May 15

Oral arguments in the Republican-led Legislature’s case against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will take place at 10 a.m. May 15 via Zoom, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens announced Friday. 

Whitmer’s attorneys will have until Tuesday, May 12 to respond to the GOP’s complaint filed Wednesday.

Republican lawmakers sued Whitmer over her decision to continue using emergency powers under a 1945 law that does not require legislative approval, rather than a 1976 law that does. 

They contend that Whitmer extending emergency declarations — such as executive orders that shut down bars, restaurants, schools and public gatherings — without their approval is unconstitutional because the law she is relying on for her powers should be narrowly interpreted to only apply to local emergencies. 

Even if it is broadly applied, the GOP leaders argue, it violates the constitutional separation of powers leaving lawmaking up to the Legislature and eliminating checks against the governor’s power. 

“Then a state of emergency or disaster can exist forever, as does her power to rule the state via executive order,” attorneys wrote in the claim. “That is a staggering abuse of power.”

Whitmer’s administration called the lawsuit “another partisan game” and pledged it “won’t distract the governor” from dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Legal experts predict it will eventually go to the state Supreme Court. — Riley Beggin


State reports 592 confirmed cases as testing increases

Michigan reported 592 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 93 deaths on Thursday afternoon, as testing of patients continues to increase.

“We’ve pushed the curve down dramatically,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a Thursday afternoon news conference, warning that it’s important to “not let our guard down.” The governor stressed that social distancing, face covering and increased testing was necessary in the continued fight against the coronavirus.

More than 45,646 Michiganders have been sickened and 4,343 have died as a result of COVID-19.

In the latest round of testing, on May 5, the state said it administered 10,584 COVID-19  tests. Of those, 8.6 percent of those patients tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The state said it's working toward its goal of testing 15,000 people daily.

The governor also said the manufacturing sector will begin phasing in work on May 11, with the Big 3 automakers ramping up on May 18. “This is good news for our state,” she said. — Monica Williams


State reports 657 new cases, 71 deaths

Michigan reported 657 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 71 COVID-related deaths in data released Wednesday afternoon.

The new cases bring the total to 45,054 and 4,250 deaths related to the coronavirus, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

While the number of statewide cases reported has slowed overall, cases in the western part of the state continue growth.

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, added 102 new cases on Wednesday (621 in the last week), while Kalamazoo added 50. In metro Detroit, the state’s hotspot and the onset of the outbreak, Detroit added 112 new cases, Wayne added 68 and Oakland added 51.

Michigan is third in the nation behind New York and New Jersey for total number of deaths.


State to spend $25.3M to aid senior living 

Michigan is spending $25.3 million in federal funds to programs to help older adults live independently during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The funds received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will go to programs for those 60 and older that provide a wide range of services, such as help with bathing and dressing, rides to doctors’ offices, education on managing chronic illnesses and support for family caregivers.

“The need for these services has increased as community measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 have closed locations where many people typically receive services making it difficult for families to assist loved ones who live alone,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director of Aging & Adult Services Agency within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The funding includes:

  • $633,406 to support State Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs in providing consumer advocacy services for residents of long-term care facilities. 
  • $15.2 million for home-delivered meals for older adults. 
  • $6.3 million for home and community-based services, which will help more older adults shelter in place to minimize exposure to COVID-19. 
  • $3.1 million  to expand a range of services that help family and informal caregivers provide support to loved ones at home. These include counseling, respite care, training and connecting people to information.

Flint plans posthumous honor for slain security guard

The City of Flint is planning to honor the Family Dollar security guard killed last week after attempting to enforce a mandatory mask policy inside the store, Mayor Sheldon Neeley told Bridge Magazine on Wednesday. 

As Bridge reported Tuesday, Flint police found Calvin Munerlyn on the floor of Family Dollar on Friday, unconscious and bleeding after he was shot in the head, allegedly by the family of a customer he had confronted for not wearing a mask.

The prosecutor says Munerlyn was a victim of a small but growing trend: Customers angry about COVID-19 restrictions are taking out their frustrations on employees at retail stores that remain open. 

But Neeley said the shooting says more about the “character of the persons who committed this act of violence,” a reference to three people charged in the case on Monday. 

“That seed of criminal nature and anger was already embedded in them,” he said. “It could have been anything to ignite that type of behavior, not just a request to comply with an order.”

Neeley, a former state lawmaker, said he has personally extended his condolences to Munerlyn’s wife this week and is considering additional steps to honor the security guard so his surviving children can “recognize their father fell in the line of duty.”

Officials may posthumously award Munerlyn keys to the City of Flint, Neeley said, and may also present his family with a flag that flew over the Michigan Capitol.

Flint has gone beyond state regulations by imposing a local curfew in an attempt to slow the coronavirus. — Jonathan Oosting


Appeals Court: Judge went too far on ballot access rules

A federal judge went too far by rewriting Michigan ballot access rules amid the coronavirus pandemic but was right to prohibit the state from enforcing typical signature requirements given an ongoing stay-at-home order, a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday. 

U.S. District Court Judge Terrance Berg had extended Michigan's April 21 signature deadline for primary candidates to May 8, halved signature requirements and required the state to provide an electronic collection option.

But federal courts have no authority to dictate exactly how states conduct their elections, the appeals court said, so Michigan should "select its own adjustments so as to reduce the burden on ballot access" for congressional, judicial and local candidates trying to qualify for the August primary.

"The point is not that the adjustments were right or wrong (or too much or too little), but that the federal court cannot impose such specific manner-of-election requirements on a State without breaching the express delegation of authority in the Constitution,” the panel said.

Michigan cannot enforce regular ballot access rules unless it provides "some reasonable accommodation to aggrieved candidates," according to the ruling. It's now up to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office to those accommodations. — Jonathan Oosting


Confirmed cases ticked up to 44,397

Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus load ticked up to 44,397 cases and 4,179 deaths on data reported by the state Tuesday.

In Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, there were 60 new confirmed patients. Macomb County added 53 new cases, while Wayne County (exclusive of Detroit) added 47 and the city of Detroit alone added 30. The Michigan Department of Corrections added 28 more cases.

While the number of daily reported cases continues to fall statewide, Michigan still has the third highest COVID-19 death rate in the country after New York and New Jersey. The state reported 44 new deaths on Tuesday.

Out of the 10,577 people tested on May 2 for COVID-19, 8.8 percent tested positive for the coronavirus, the Department of Health and Human Services said. As of May 1, the state had 15,659 recovered cases of the coronavirus.


Michigan reports 196 new cases, 86 new deaths on software glitch

The state reported 196 new coronavirus cases and 86 deaths on Monday evening, but noted that the unusually low figures were due to a software issue. The condensed report was delayed by five hours. 

Still, Michigan’s curve appears to be flattening in recent days. Much of that has been attributed to improvement in Metro Detroit, a hotspot at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan.

West Michigan’s Kent County, home to Grand Rapid, has recently seen a surge in new cases. It reported 68 new cases and new deaths Monday.


New office to monitor pandemic spending

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced a new executive order that creates a state office to watchdog government spending on the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 Office of Accountability, housed within the state budget office, will oversee state spending on the coronavirus crisis and report its findings to the governor and state budget director.

“I will continue to work around the clock to ensure these resources are spent wisely,” Whitmer said during a press conference Monday afternoon.

The office comes as the Republican-controlled Legislature has announced it will hold oversight hearings about the state’s response to the pandemic.

During her regular press conference, Whitmer continued to push back against calls to loosen restrictions on Michiganders’ movements with an oft-repeated phrase: “We’re not out of the woods yet.” 

The governor signed an executive order Friday that allows construction, real estate and other outdoor jobs to resume on May 7, but she has yet to offer concrete details about a long-range plan to lift restrictions on Michiganders’ movement. 

On Monday, Whitmer declined to offer specifics about which industries may be next to resume work, but promised to share more details later this week on “the next safe steps.”

Each time existing restrictions are eased, Whitmer said, there will be a waiting period of up to two weeks to make sure that cases don’t rise before any action is taken to “turn the knob for the next step.” 

“If we open up too fast, we will have to go through this pain all over again,” Whitmer said. “Let’s not do that.”

Also during the press conference, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson noted that voter turnout is way up a day before in-person voting in Tuesday’s local elections. 

Turnout so far is 20 percent after Whitmer issued an executive order expanding absentee voting, up from the typical 12 percent during local elections, Benson said. 

About 50 school districts have elections Tuesday, and Whitmer’s order requires each to keep open at least one polling place. Voters who cast ballots in person should wear face masks, practice social distancing and wash hands after voting, Benson said. — Kelly House

Michigan’s daily 3 p.m. release of the tally of coronavirus cases and deaths was delayed Monday because of a software issue, state officials announced. The numbers will be released online later Monday. Check in with Bridge for the latest.


Sunday, May 3

Confirmed cases rise to 43,754

Michigan added 547 cases to its coronavirus case count on Sunday, bringing the state’s overall total to 43,754.

There were 29 deaths reported Sunday, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 4,049. Michigan officials have cautioned that weekend totals tend to be lower than those midweek, so Sunday’s tallies shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as a dramatic slowdown of the virus’ spread.

Still, Michigan’s overall COVID-19 curve appears to be flattening in recent days, as Bridge’s coronavirus dashboard shows.

Much of that is because of improvements in metro Detroit, which was once a national hotspot for the virus. In Detroit, where 1,085 residents have died of the virus since March, the city on Sunday reported 106 new cases and no deaths, continuing a recent trend of declining cases.

But while metro Detroit slowdown has helped flatten the statewide curve, the virus has picked up speed in certain parts of the state outside southeast Michigan. West Michigan’s Kent County, which has recently seen a surge in new cases, had 89 cases and three new deaths Sunday. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has pointed to the quickening pace of infection in outstate Michigan in response to criticism for extending Michigan’s stay-at-home order. Opening too early, she has said, could lead to a surge in infections that could outstrip the capacity of small rural health systems.

“We’re going to listen to facts and science, because we’ve got to get this right,” Whitmer told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning.


Whitmer says Capitol protest 'depicted some of the worst racism' 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday condemned recent demonstrations at the Capitol as ”not representative of who we are in Michigan” and said reopening the economy will be based on the advice of medical experts, not political pressure.

Her comments came after protesters, some armed with rifles, descended upon the Capitol on Thursday to protest Michigan’s coronavirus stay-home order.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper,” Whitmer said imagery displayed at the protest, including a noose, Confederate flag and swastika, “depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country.” 

Whitmer said she won’t give in to political pressure to reopen the state. Instead, she said, “we need to listen to the expertise at our institutions of higher learning, in our health systems, and make decisions that are going to protect the lives of everyone.”

“Whether you agree with me or not,” she said, “I’m working to protect your life if you live in the state of Michigan.”

In a separate appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun noted that Michigan has seen “significant improvement” in recent weeks, but reopening the state’s economy must be gradual. 

As of Saturday, 43,207 Michiganders had tested positive for coronavirus, and more than 4,000 had died.

Khaldun noted that, while Michigan’s overall daily new case count appears to be slowing, daily rates are increasing in some regions. That’s a concern, she said, especially in rural areas with a limited number of hospital beds. Khaldun also said Michigan’s testing capacity also needs to increase.

“If we don’t do well with these social distancing measures, more people will die and that is just the facts,” Khaldun said. 

Whitmer said Michigan should be testing 1 percent to 2 percent of its population each week, and “we are far short of that,” partly because of trouble accessing the supplies needed to conduct tests.  — Kelly House


Saturday, May 2

Coronavirus cases drop 

Coronavirus case counts dropped to 851 new cases reported Saturday, bringing the overall total to 43,207 confirmed cases statewide. 

There were 154 new deaths reported Saturday, which includes 75 cases identified by reviewing death certificates to find coronavirus-related deaths that had been missed in other case counts throughout the week. 

That brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan to 4,020. Michigan has the third-highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the nation ,after New York and New Jersey, though new deaths and cases have continued to slow in recent weeks. 

Cases in Michigan prisons surged, with 265 new cases reported. It’s the highest number of cases reported from the Michigan Department of Corrections all week, even as cases have climbed daily. The department did not report any new deaths.

Cases also continued to rise in Kent County, where 97 new cases were confirmed. Kent County reported the third-highest number of new cases in the state after the Department of Corrections and the City of Detroit. 

Detroit reported 118 new cases and 40 new deaths, though the city said in a press release that nearly half of those deaths actually happened more than a week ago. The actual number of people who died in Detroit on Friday was six — the smallest number since March 25. 

Baraga County confirmed its first case of coronavirus, leaving only four counties in the state — Ontonagon, Keweenaw, Iron and Alger, all in the U.P. — without confirmed cases.  

Michigan continued to increase the number of tests performed, reporting a record number of 11,165 total tests performed on April 30 (the last date for which data are available). As the number of tests performed in Michigan has increased, the percentage of tests returned as positive have dropped to 11.8 percent on average over the last week — under the 12 percent rate recommended by experts to indicate the state is doing sufficiently robust testing. 


Whitmer extends grocery store and pharmacy protections 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Saturday extending requirements for grocery stores and pharmacies through May 29. 

Under the order: 

  • All customers who can medically tolerate it must wear a face mask or other covering while inside grocery stores and pharmacies. 
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies must set aside at least two hours every week for vulnerable populations to shop. 
  • Businesses must notify their employees if one of their colleagues tests positive for COVID-19. 
  • Employees must wear face coverings. 

Grocery stores and other places that sell food must also comply with additional restrictions, including requiring customers and employees to stay six feet apart, closing salad bars and other self-serve food areas, implementing more stringent sanitation measures, giving vulnerable workers low-exposure jobs and developing daily coronavirus symptom screening for staff. 

The order would have ended on May 22.


Friday, May 1

Michigan construction, real estate industries to restart next week

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday relaxed her stay-home order with new provisions that will let construction crews, real estate agents, forest workers, outdoor equipment technicians and parking enforcement workers return to their jobs May 7. 

But those jobs may look quite different amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic because of new mandates on employers, who will be required to provide employees with personal protection equipment and take other preventative spreads to slow the spread of the virus. 

Whitmer said her team will keep a close eye on the industries to evaluate the public health impact of the reopenings as she continues to develop a broader economic recovery plan. 

“I want to be clear, the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order remains in place until May 15,” the governor said in a Friday afternoon briefing. “It will not be business as usual in Michigan for some time, but we are starting to turn that dial.”

Real estate agents and brokers will only be allowed to perform showings by appointment and must allow no more than four people on a property at a time; Open houses will remain prohibited.

The construction industry — including plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians — must adhere to social distancing policies, provide workers with personal protection equipment and limit tool sharing. 

Construction firms must also designate an on-site supervisor to oversee COVID-19 control strategies, conduct daily health screenings for workers or visitors, limit site access and require employees to wear face shields or masks when social distancing is not possible.

Whitmer’s order will also allow for manufacturers to resume operations for the express purpose of producing items that help other businesses modify their workplaces to separate employees, including partitions, cubicles and other furniture modifications.

“If we all do our part to stay safe, we can lower the chance of a second wave of this virus and continue turning that dial to re-engage other sectors of our economy,” Whitmer said. “It’s going to be one step at a time. In increments.”

Michigan case counts steady as testing surges, 977 new cases Friday

Coronavirus case counts stayed steady statewide Friday, with Michigan reporting 977 new cases to an overall total of 42,356 confirmed cases. There were 77 reported deaths, down slightly from recent days.

Cases continue to rise steadily in Kent County, where another 121 cases were reported Friday, the third highest daily increase, behind Oakland County and suburban Wayne County, which excludes Detroit.

Detroit, which has over 20 percent of all cases in the state, recorded just 105 new cases Friday.

The Michigan prison system reported another 107 cases and has had over 500 in the last five days alone; only Kent and Wayne counties had more. 

The state reported its highest number of tests in a single day nearly 10,500 tests taken on Wednesday (testing results always lag behind by two days). The state previously said it has enough capacity to test over 11,000 people a day if it had sufficient supplies. 

The other good news: Despite a surge in testing, the number of positive cases ticked down to 11.6 percent — well below the 40 percent recorded in early April. 

Experts say the positive rate should be below 12 percent before governments should consider reopening their economies. A lower rate indicates the virus may be controlled with contact tracing and isolation of the infected.


Nessel tells local law enforcement to ‘use best judgment' on stay-home order

Dana Nessel tells local Michigan law enforcement ‘proceed with caution’ on stay-home order 

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging Michigan residents to continue complying with her stay-at-home order and other mandates to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

But Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield says those orders are now “legally questionable” after the GOP-led Legislature refused to extend an emergency declaration. 

The dispute is almost certainly heading to court in the very near future, but in the interim, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is telling local police tasked with enforcing the governor’s orders to “use their best judgement” while the legal debate plays out. 

Whitmer issued a series of new emergency and disaster declarations late Thursday after Republican lawmakers let a previous declaration expire. The Legislature authorized legal action to challenge the governor’s authority, arguing she has refused their input on plans to begin reopening the economy put on lockdown amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic. 

Nessel’s office is “reviewing the effects of the governor’s executive orders issued last night in light of the Legislature’s actions yesterday,” spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney told Bridge Magazine Friday.

“The Attorney General advised law enforcement to use their best judgment until a court resolves these issues,” she said. “However, the Attorney General fully expects people to comply with the Governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order.  There is no question that the governor’s order is important in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.”

Bob Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said the debate puts local law enforcement in an “interesting position” given their responsibility to enforce Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, violations of which are punishable as a misdemeanor offense.

Chatfield, R-Levering, has not offered guidance to Michigan residents who may be confused by the legal drama, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Senate Republicans believe Whitmer “is acting beyond her authority” by declaring a new emergency and issuing new executive orders, said Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. “We also believe the Governor will continue to enforce” them. 

Neither the House or Senate plan to file lawsuits Friday.

Whitmer’s office offered matter-of-fact advice to residents: “Follow the executive orders issued, stay home stay safe, only go out for essential things, wear a face covering, don't congregate, etc.,” spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said in a text message. “It takes all of us doing our part to mitigate the spread of the virus.”


Thursday, April 30

Attorney General to investigate contract with Democratic-linked group

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is launching an investigation into the procurement process behind a contract canceled last week after Republican lawmakers and activists criticized the choice due to its Democratic ties. 

Great Lakes Community Engagement, an outreach campaign company headed by Democratic consultant Mike Kolehouse, and Every Action VAN, part of a technology company that has been used by multiple Democratic campaigns, were granted a contract worth nearly $200,000 on April 20 to help coordinate the state’s contact tracing efforts. 

Contact tracing involves calling individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to gather information about people they have likely come in contact with and alerting those people they may have been exposed. 

Whitmer said the “correct process was not followed” in securing the contract and canceled it the day after it was announced, calling it an “unnecessary distraction.”

Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, requested an investigation into the contract on Tuesday. 

“I agree that we hold a collective responsibility to ensure accountability and transparency in state government,” Nessel wrote in a letter to Runestad. “These obligations are a direct result of our roles as public servants, irrespective of political party.”

The results of the investigation will be made public when it is completed, Nessel said. — Riley Beggin


Michigan coronavirus cases surpass 41,000

Michigan’s total coronavirus case count ticked past 41,000 Thursday, as it reported 980 new cases and 119 additional deaths in the last 24 hours. 

More than 1,000 Detroiters have died since the city’s first COVID-related death on March 19, but cases have continued to trend downward. In the west, Kent County added 84 more cases reported in the past 24 hours. That brings the county’s total number of cases to 1,479, as of Thursday morning. The county, which includes Grand Rapids, continues to see increases of cases at a higher rate than much of the state.  

Michigan Department of Corrections now has reported a total of 1,453 cases and 42 deaths. The Federal Correctional Institute has reported 88 cases.

The state reports the number of daily tests it conducts two days after they’re complete. The most recent data available, from April 28, show that 7,927 tests were administered. Of those total tests, 12.5 percent had positive results.


25 percent of state workers seeking unemployment

Job stability in Michigan took another drop on Thursday as new claims for jobless benefits showed at least 25 percent of state workers seeking unemployment payments.

New claims for the week ended April 25 totaled 81,312, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State data show that 1,261,921 workers have applied for unemployment since the week ending March 15, when the new coronavirus began to escalate a wave of business slowdowns. By March 16, all non-essential businesses were closed to the public, sending more waves of filings into the system every week.

Nationally, jobless claims now total 30.3 million over the past six weeks. Filings last week totaled 3.8 million, down from 4.4 million a week earlier.

In Michigan, jobless numbers are highest in the population centers, including a total of 206,387 workers in Wayne County —  the highest figure yet.

The increase is fueled by jumps in 34 counties. Beyond Wayne County, increases were seen in Oakland, Kent and Washtenaw. Grand Traverse saw a 13 percent increase; Berrien County reported a 15 percent increase. Ogemaw County didn’t change, remaining at 1,815 jobless claims.

Another 48 counties saw decreases, ranging from a few to a few thousand, as businesses received federal Paycheck Protection Plan loans that allow them to call back their workforces.

A total of $2.73 billion in unemployment benefits has been sent to Michigan workers, according to the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. — Paula Gardner


State park campgrounds set to reopen

Michiganders can start making tentative plans to camp at state parks after the stay-at-home order ends, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced.

The department has released its plan to gradually reopen bathrooms, campsites and other amenities at state parks, forests and recreation areas beginning May 15, the expiration date of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.

Here is the plan for reopening parks services: 

  • Dispersed camping on state-managed lands is closed until at least May 15.
  • Park bathrooms and trash facilities are closed until at least June 3.
  • State forest campgrounds and DNR harbors are set to open June 10. If you made a reservation at a state forest campground before June 10, it will be canceled and refunded.
  • State park campgrounds and picnic shelters are scheduled to open on June 22. If you reserved a campsite or shelter for between May 15 and June 21, the reservation has been canceled. Campers can get a refund or request a new date later in the season with a free extra night. Shelter reservations will be automatically refunded.

Parks & Recreation Chief Ron Olson told Bridge these plans are tentative and could change if Whitmer extends the stay-at-home order. 

“We’re trying to do this in a measured way,” said Olson. 

Olson said state parks staff who have been working from home since the stay-home order took effect will need time to do maintenance and repairs on parks facilities before reopening them. The department must also hire summer workers before campgrounds can reopen.

In the meantime, most state lands remain open for hiking, fishing and other daytime recreation. Rangers and DNR officers are monitoring crowd sizes to ensure visitors can maintain social distance. 

Department officials will share updates to their reopening plans here. — Kelly House


Wednesday, April 29

Michigan coronavirus case count surpasses 40,000

Michigan’s total coronavirus case count surpassed 40,000 Wednesday, as it reported 1,137 new cases and 103 additional deaths in the last 24 hours. The Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,052 new confirmed cases and 160 new deaths a day earlier. 

The new data put the state seventh in the nation in cases and third in deaths.

“While we’re seeing a statewide plateau, some counties are actually seeing an increase in the rate of rise of cases in their areas, and particularly in the western part of the state,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s medical executive, in a news conference. “ We’re also seeing some outbreaks in places where people are congregating such as nursing homes, homeless shelters and some workplaces.”

Kent County added 95 more cases reported in the past 24 hours. (On Tuesday, it reported 205 new cases.) That brings the county’s total number of cases to 1,395, as of Wednesday morning. The county, which includes Grand Rapids in west Michigan, continues to see increases of cases at a higher rate than much of the state.  The county averaged 60 new cases last week. Nearby, Ottawa County had 14 more cases and one death, while Muskegon County had 20 new cases, as of Wednesday morning’s data. 

In the Upper Peninsula, five counties continued to have no confirmed cases.

The state reports the number of daily tests it conducts two days after they’re complete. The most recent data available, from April 27, shows that 6,505  tests were given. Of those total tests, 12.3 percent had positive results.


Child care centers get $130 million in funding

Michigan child care centers, struggling to keep their doors open during the pandemic, got a $130 million injection of federal and state funds Wednesday.

The program, called the “Child Care Relief Fund,” will provide direct, non-competitive grants for child care providers to help mitigate losses caused by the state-mandated lockdown of non-essential workers, and to provide working capital for now-shuttered child care services to reopen as restrictions are lifted and more families again need child care.

“Child care providers have been critical partners in helping our state respond to COVID-19, and we are extremely grateful for their service,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in an announcement of the program. “Every child care provider and early educator is important in giving parents some peace of mind while they are delivering essential services to our state at this challenging time.” 

The fund consists of $100 million from the federal CARES Act, and $30 million in state money.

To qualify for grants, child care providers must commit to reducing their weekly rates for families by at least 10 percent, and provide care for children of essential workers. Grant recipients must also agree not to charge a fee to hold a child’s spot in a program while receiving grant funds.

The state also made changes to its existing child care subsidy program, including increasing the hours school-age children can be in care, and allowing providers to receive subsidy payments based on the number of children enrolled, not the number attending during the pandemic.

Elisabeth Tobia, executive director of two child care centers in Lansing, was skeptical that the program goes far enough to help struggling child care providers survive losses of income during the pandemic.

“At first blush, the governor's Child Care Relief Fund appears to be a step toward recognizing the importance of child care in fueling the economy during this pandemic crisis, and it may allow some providers to continue operating,” Tobia said. “Where it may fall apart, however, is in requiring grant recipients to reduce tuition and fees by at least 10 percent; unless the grant covers or exceeds that reduction in revenue, providers will not be able to pay their already-undervalued workers at a rate commensurate with the hazards they continue to face.

“While positioned as a lifeline to child care workers, the Child Care Relief Fund appears to give greater benefit to families at the expense of providers who must jump through restrictive administrative hoops for little or no relief of their own,” Tobia said.

Licensed child care centers, family group homes, tribal child care providers, provisional disaster relief child care centers, and subsidized license exempt providers are all eligible for Michigan’s Child Care Relief Fund grants. Providers can apply for grants online at www.michigan.gov/childcare, though the site did not appear to have information on the grants as of Wednesday afternoon.


Tuesday, April 28

Kent County adds 205 more cases

Michigan recorded 1,052 new cases and 160 new deaths from the coronavirus in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning. This was a jump over the previous day's numbers. 

Kent County alone added 205 more cases Tuesday. That brings the county’s total number of cases to 1,305. The county, which includes Grand Rapids, continues to see increases in cases at a higher rate than much of the state.  That’s triple the amount it reported a little more than a week ago. 

Data also showed that, as of April 24, 8,342 people have recovered from the coronavirus.


Senate GOP urges Whitmer to allow elective surgeries again

Michigan’s Republican-led Senate returned to work in Lansing on Tuesday, meeting briefly amid the coronavirus pandemic to adopt two non-binding resolutions urging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to relax business rules and allow elective surgeries to resume.

A resolution sponsored by Sen. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, asks Whitmer to adopt federal guidance that expanded the definition of “essential” employees to include workers in construction and other industries. 

Whitmer ignored that new federal guidance in the revised stay-at-home order she signed Friday but said Monday that residential and construction firms are likely next in line to reopen under a regional and risk-based plan she is developing. 

A separate resolution from Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, urges Whitmer to let health care providers resume elective procedures. Giving them “the freedom to determine their capacity to handle elective procedures,” is a key step in improving the financial stability of hospitals, the resolution says. 

Whitmer signed an order March 20 prohibiting non-essential medical and dental procedures, a measure designed to reduce strain on health care systems grappling with COVID-19 hospitalizations that have more recently begun to decline.


Monday, April 27

Michigan reports 432 confirmed cases, 92 new deaths

Michigan added 432 cases to its confirmed COVID-19 case count Monday,  a marked decline from the previous days’ totals, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services. But the state data also showed 92 new deaths attributed to the virus, an increase from 41 the previous day. The state remains third behind New York and New Jersey in deaths nationwide. 

While positive cases in metro Detroit and Michigan overall have slowed, Kent County is heating up. The county added 69 people testing positive to its rolls on Monday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 1,100. Kent, which includes Grand Rapids in West Michigan, continues to see increases of cases at a higher rate than much of the state.  The daily average of 60 per day for the past week is triple that posted by the county a little more than a week ago. 

In metro Detroit, cases in Macomb county rose to 5,245, Oakland reported 6,913 cases and Wayne County, inclusive of Detroit, had 124 new cases reported. 

Elsewhere in the state, Genesee, 1,483 up from 1,467, Muskegon rose to 234 cases, up from 228. 

As of April 24, 8,342 Michigan residents have recovered from COVID-19 and the state has a 9 percent fatality rate. The average age of deceased patients has been 74.4.


Whitmer: Construction next segment to open

Michigan could soon give construction firms a green light to resume more operations as part of the state’s next wave of business reopenings, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday morning ahead of a 4 p.m. briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I would anticipate in the coming days, if our trajectory of hospitalizations continues to go down and our ability to test continues to go up, that we will go into the next low-risk category,” Whitmer said in a live interview with POLITICO.

“That might include some construction, for instance. It might include some additional outdoor enterprises that are currently forbidden from proceeding.”  

The governor on Friday signed a new stay-at-home order that allowed landscapers, plant nurseries and bike shops to reopen, provided employees wear masks and maintain social distancing recommendations. The order allows only limited forms of construction, including road repairs and projects to maintain the “safety, sanitation, and essential operations” of a home. 

Whitmer is developing additional plans with an “economic recovery council” led by DTE Energy Chairman Gerry Anderson and former Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting. 

Health care leaders are helping Michigan “score risk associated with different sectors of our economy,” Whitmer said Monday. “We also have to look regionally. Different parts of our state don’t have COVID-19 pressure the way that other parts do. They also don't have the kind of hospitals able to meet a need if a spike happens.” — Jonathan Oosting


Small businesses get another shot at relief funding

Small business owners who missed the last round of federal Paycheck Protection Plan loans have another chance to apply.

Applications open at 10:30 a.m. Monday through the U.S. Small Business Administration. They must be made through an approved lender, so potential borrowers must apply through their banks.

The PPP has made more than 1.66 million small business loans so far during the coronavirus crisis, according to the SBA. However, the first round of financing closed early, after the wave of applicants drained the initial $349 billion funding.

Congress approved the second round of financing at the end of last week. Business leaders across Michigan had urged the move, with dozens of advocacy organizations signing a letter to the state’s Congressional delegation. In the meantime, the program also generated controversy among many smaller employers after disclosures that larger companies — like Ruth’s Chris Steak House — had received funding. The restaurant chain later returned $20 million to the SBA.

Michigan had  873,722 small businesses in 2019 that employed 1.9 million, according to data from the federal government. — Paula Gardner


Sunday, April 26

Michigan logs 575 more cases, 41 new coronavirus deaths

Michigan added 575 cases to its confirmed COVID-19 case count Sunday, according to newly released data that also showed 41 new deaths attributed to the virus.

Sunday’s death count from COVID-19 was the lowest number recorded since March 29, when 21 were counted. However, weekend totals announced by the state tend to lag, officials at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have cautioned.

Kent County continued to see its case count rise on Sunday, with an additional 102 people testing positive. That brings the county’s total number of cases to 1,031. 

The county, which includes Grand Rapids in West Michigan, continues to see increases of cases at a higher rate than much of the state.  The daily average of 60 per day for the past week is triple that posted by the county just a week ago. Community spread in Kent County is attributed in part to an increase in cases at a homeless shelter. 

Other counties with notable case increases announced Sunday include: Wayne 200, which includes 65 new cases in Detroit, (county total 15,748); Macomb, 64 new cases (5,203); Oakland, 47 (6,928); Genesee, 15 (1,467), Muskegon, 15 (228). 

As of Sunday, 37,778 total cases of coronavirus have been identified in Michigan residents. Among those, 3,274 residents now have been confirmed to have died, according to MDHHS.

New coronavirus protections for food sellers take effect

Anyone shopping in Michigan at a food-selling business or pharmacy who can medically do so must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth, according to Gov. Gretcher Whitmer’s executive order 2020-60, announced Sunday. 

Michigan food-sellers and pharmacies must provide face coverings for checkout employees and also provide at least two hours a week dedicated to vulnerable customers, defined as those over age 60, or who are pregnant or have chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease. 

Later Sunday, Michigan Attorney General released a statement saying that while the governor's executive order, which takes effect at midnight Sunday, requires businesses to provide face coverings to workers, Nessel noted that such protective equipment can still be hard to come by. 

"I am asking our law enforcement partners around the state to consider the good faith efforts of businesses that have tried, but have been unsuccessful, in obtaining appropriate face coverings when deciding whether to take criminal enforcement action against a non-compliant business," Nessel wrote. 

"While businesses work diligently to find appropriate face coverings to meet the requirements of the Executive Order, I urge employees that can safely do so to use their own face coverings as protection until businesses provide face coverings as required by the Governor’s order." 

Food-sellers and pharmacies already were working under additional protective strategies from an earlier order, including that employees and customers remain at least six feet apart, and that stores close self-serve prepared food stations such as salad bars and eliminte free samples and tasting stations.  

Additional cleaning stations also have been established in groceries and pharmacies, and employees who are sick or show symptoms of COVID-19 are not supposed to work.


Saturday, April 25

Confirmed cases surpass 37,000 with more testing

Michigan added another 562 cases to its confirmed COVID-19 case count Saturday, driving the total to 37,203 cases, including 3,274 deaths.

Deaths jumped 189 on Saturday, but that’s in large part to a backlog of cases throughout the week that are classified as coronavirus deaths after health officials review death certificates.

The caseload is increasing as testing statewide is as well. 

On Saturday, the state reported lab results from 8,155 tests, the highest single-day count since testing began. Of those, 14.8 percent of the tests were positive. That’s the lowest percentage since case counts began a dramatic climb March 16, when nearly 40 percent of tests were positive

In the past week, Michigan has averaged 5,800 tests, up from 4,100 the week before Michigan health officials have said the state has the capacity to conduct 11,300 tests a day.

The one-day increase in positive cases follows four days of steady increases. But the relatively low number also could be attributed to normal declines over weekend.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard.

Judge nixes Nessel bid to suspend eased candidate requirements

A federal judge early Saturday rejected Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s request to suspend his order that allows candidates seeking office to collect half the signatures typically required because of the coronavirus. 

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg leaves in place an order from earlier this week that also extends the filing deadline for congressional candidates in the August primary to May 8 cuts and allows them to collect signatures electronically.

Earlier in the week, Berg sided with Eric Esshaki, a Birmingham Republican running in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, who argued Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order made it “impossible” to qualify for the ballot. 

In his Saturday order, Berg wrote that Whitmer “refused to budge on reducing the signature requirements” despite issuing a stay-home order March 23 to slow the "once-in-a generation" pandemic. 

Friday, April 25

Coronavirus cases approach 37,000 

Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 36,641 on Friday, the second straight day the state has added more than 1,300 cases, as testing ramps up.

Confirmed cases on Friday rose 27.7 percent in Alpena County, 16.2 percent in Kalamazoo and more than 11 percent in Kent, Berrien and Hillsdale counties. Cases in Ottawa and Muskegon rose 70 percent and 50 percent in the last week, respectively, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Increases slowed in Metro Detroit, which had been the epicenter of the virus since the first case in early March. The suburban Detroit county of Wayne now has 6,934 cases and 597 deaths (up from 6,677 cases ), while Oakland recorded 6,804 ( up from 6,634) and Macomb logged 5,022 (jumping from 4,862). Detroit alone has 8,4713, climbing from 8,317 cases on Thursday, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported.

The number of “congregate care” facilities, which includes the state’s nursing homes, had a jump in outbreaks, from 243 last week to 340 this week. The total number of daily confirmed cases reported by the Michigan Department of Corrections jumped by more than 200 to 973 cases and 28 deaths. The Federal Correctional Institute has recorded 68 cases, as of Friday afternoon data.

Michigan ranks seventh in the nation for the number of cases and third in deaths, behind New York and New Jersey.

The state is now releasing data on the number of COVID-19 patients at a particular hospital or health system, as well as the total capacity of beds being used, and the number of days of personal protective equipment left on hand.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard.


Tensions flare on Michigan Senate floor as Legislature passes bills to restrict governor

Members of the Michigan Legislature came to Lansing Friday to approve legislation that would restrict Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers and form a committee to investigate the state’s response to the coronavirus. 

The Senate considered two Republican bills that would greatly restrict the governor’s emergency powers — though the governor has said she would veto them if sent to her desk.

One would repeal a 1945-era law giving the governor the power to extend emergency declarations without the approval of the Legislature. The other would limit the window by which she would be extend emergency declarations with lawmakers’ consent from 28 days to 14. Both passed 22-15 and would go next to the House for consideration. 

But they were met with impassioned arguments on both sides: Democrats argued the legislation represented reckless decisions made by people from regions that don’t yet understand the human toll of the virus. Many spoke passionately about loved ones who have already died from the virus and condemned Republican leaders for drawing the crowd of lawmakers to the Capitol.

“I don’t want to hear another dang thing about the sanctity of life from that side of the aisle,” said Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing. “Apparently it only applies when it interferes with the almighty dollar or your golf game.”

Republicans contended the bills are necessary to reign in a governor they feel is getting dangerously close to totalitarian. They cited stories from constituents who held off from getting necessary healthcare because they feared coming in contact with the virus.

“There are systems of government in the world… that provide total authority to one person,” said Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, who sponsored one of the bills. “Thankfully, the state of Michigan is not one of them.”

Both the House and Senate also approved the creation of a joint committee to investigate the state’s response to Covid-19. Two Democratic-sponsored amendments to the committee in the Senate — one which would require an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the panel, and one which would expand its scope of inquiry to both the state and federal response — failed 22-15. 

The committee will have subpoena power to request documents and other records from state officials in their investigation. 

Members appointed to serve on the committee include Rep. Matt Hall, R-Emmett Township, Rep. Julie Calley, R-Portland, Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, Rep. Vanessa Guerra, D-Saginaw, Rep. Tyrone Carter D-Detroit, Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing and Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit. — Riley Beggin


All Detroit public school students to receive laptop, Internet

All 50,000 students in Detroit Public Schools Community District will get a free tablet laptop and Internet service in June to help with homebound learning, the result of a startling $23 million raised in a matter of weeks.

The effort, funded by DTE Energy Foundation, Quicken Loans Community Fund and the Skillman Foundation, is an effort to bridge the digital divide that separates learning opportunities for children in low-income communities like Detroit, and students in wealthier, surrounding suburbs of Metro Detroit.

That home-technology gap came into stark relief in March, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer orders the state’s public and private K-12 schools to close their classrooms and switch to remote learning, in an attempt to slow the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus. While many school districts in the state turned to online learning, Detroit was hobbled by the fact that many students – Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti estimated 50 percent – did not have Internet access in their homes beyond cell phones.

 “As the governor rightfully shifted learning this year to online learning from traditional face-to-face instruction, our district experienced another example of inequity in the fact that only 10 percent of students were accessing the district’s online platform and learning materials,” Vitti said in a news release about the initiative. “The District needed an … immediate response and the business and non-profit community stepped up as true advocates of children, families and traditional public education.”

The tablets will be delivered to families in June, along with free Internet service through the end of 2020. After that, families will be offered the chance to pay for a low-cost Internet service. Once in the hands of students, the tablets are theirs to keep.

“This is an unprecedented investment to immediately address an unprecedented crisis,” Vitti said. “This is not only an investment to address the digital divide so we can more effectively facilitate online learning throughout this shutdown, but it will rapidly accelerate our overall plan and efforts to increase the use of technology and improve student achievement over the next two years.” 


Thursday, April 23

Michigan coronavirus deaths near 3,000

Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 35,291 as deaths neared 3,000, according to data released Wednesday afternoon. It was the highest single-day jump in cases since April 14.

The state Department of Health and Human Services noted that today’s data included 55 deaths recorded as a result of a review of earlier cases.

Metro Detroit has been the epicenter of the virus since the first case last month.  The suburban Detroit county of Wayne now has 6,677 cases and 597 deaths (up from 6,535 cases and 572 deaths reported Wednesday). Nearby, Oakland (6,634, up from 6,463) and Macomb (4,862, up from 4,628) follow in the region. Detroit alone has 8,317 cases and 799 deaths (up from 8,026 cases and 747 deaths on Wednesday), the state Department of Health and Human Services reported.

Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, has shown significant growth in cases, as the virus spreads from metro Detroit. The county reported a total of 815 cases and 27 deaths as of Thursday, up from 757 reported cases Wednesday and 25 deaths. 

Statewide, the fatality rate among confirmed cases is 8 percent.

The number of “congregate care” facilities with respiratory outbreaks jumped from 243 last week to 340 this week. 

Michigan still ranks 11th nationwide for number of cases per million residents and sixth in the number of deaths.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard.


Coronavirus continues to take toll on unemployment

The coronavirus continues to take a toll on the nation’s unemployment, as an additional 4.427 million Americans sought jobless benefits.

The number of jobless continues to grow in Michigan, too, with 134,119 new claims filed for the week ended April 18.

Those numbers were released Thursday morning by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which notes that records continue to be set as employers turn to payroll reductions amid stay-at-home orders to fight the virus spread.

Both national and state numbers represent a decline from previous weeks, indicating that the peak may have passed. However, many state systems —  including Michigan’s — continue to work through a backlog of filings as the wave of jobless claims overwhelm official networks.

The previous week's national filing level was revised down by 8,000 from 5.245 million to 5.237 million, according to the BLS. In Michigan, 222,207 had filed claims the previous week, bringing its total at that time to 1,041,015 for people in the state’s jobless claims system.

The new numbers for Michigan put it amid the states with the biggest weekly decline for jobless filings, according to the BLS, with 88,088 fewer seeking financial assistance.

“Fewer layoffs in the manufacturing, retail trade, and accommodation and food services industries,” appears to be the reason, according to notes from the state provided by BLS. 

So far, at least 16 million Americans have sought jobless benefits since mid-March. —Paula Gardner

 

Michigan restaurant losses top $1.2 billion

The tab for lost sales in Michigan restaurants in April reached more than $1.2 billion.

That’s according to a survey released Wednesday  by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA). 

The losses come as more than half of Michigan’s restaurants did not open in April, prompting 88 percent of owners to lay off or furlough workers. Those layoffs total 249,000, representing the entire state and raising heightened concerns about the industry.

“The hospitality industry is simply too big to fail in Michigan,” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. The businesses are suffering “untenable losses” due to the state’s stay-at-home order and consumer fears about the virus.

The economic impact also is felt in the hospital industry, Winslow said, where 87,000 workers have been laid off or furloughed. Some hotels, he added, are projecting occupancies below 20 percent.

Between the two industries, Winslow said, they employ 1 in 8 Michigan residents. 

“Collectively, we are 18,000 private businesses that employ 1 in 8 Michiganders and generate nearly 10 percent of the state’s revenue,” said Winslow.

The association is advocating for some policy changes, including terms to the Paycheck Protection Program loan terms that would allow some repayment flexibility as markets rebuild. Tax credits also would make a difference after reopening, when restaurants and  hotels will have little or no cash flow.

Restaurants that are open are trying to adapt to carry-out only and carving out new markets, such as selling grocery items directly to consumers. 

Mike Van Fleet operates Duncan City Pizzeria in Cheboygan. He said his family-owned carryout now offers more curbside service due to concerns about germs spreading. 

While business dropped by half in March, it’s now down about 25 percent and he anticipates it will keep improving this spring. However, that came with some changes: The restaurant is now closed on Monday, and family members are now doing the work of laid-off part-time employees, who are receiving unemployment. 

As a carryout restaurant, those cost-cutting moves have been enough to keep it running, Van Fleet said. But he also recognizes that other restaurants aren’t in the same position as the tourist-driven economy of Cheboygan starts to look ahead to itsbusy season. “There’s not a lot of competition,” he said. “A lot are fully closed.”

The survey was conducted by the National Restaurant Association, with a companion survey conducted by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. — Paula Gardner


Michigan reports almost 1,000 new cases

Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases reached 33,966 as deaths hit 2,813, according to data released Wednesday afternoon.

The figures mean that there were 999 more reported cases and 113 more deaths in the last 24 hours.

—Metro Detroit, the epicenter of the virus since the first case, had shown a slowing of cases in the last week, before climing again this week. The suburban Detroit county of Wayne now has 6,535 cases and 572 deaths (up from 6,351 on Tuesday), Oakland (6,463, up from 6,306) and Macomb (4,628, up from 4,544). Detroit itself has 8,026 cases and 747 deaths, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported. Five counties, all in the Upper Peninsula, have no confirmed cases.

There also were 655 cases and 25 deaths reported at Michigan Department of Corrections facilities and 57 cases (no fatalities) reported by the Federal Correctional Institute. 

State data showed that there have been 3,237 cases of recovered COVID-19 patients, as of April 17. Statewide, the fatality rate from confirmed cases stands at 8 percent.


Tuesday, April 21

Michigan's confirmed cases grow 967 with 232 new deaths

Michigan now has reported 32,967 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 2,700 confirmed deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to newly released state data. 

That means 967 new cases and 232 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, an increase from the 576 new cases and 77 deaths reported Monday. 

The Department of Health and Human Services noted, however, that Tuesday’s data includes 95 additional deaths where COVID-19 was marked on death records as a “contributing factor.” Death certificates with this mark are cross-checked against laboratory data only three times a week, leading to the additional 95 deaths reported today.

The last week has shown a slowdown in the three counties of metro Detroit, which make up about 76 percent of the state’s cases. These three counties are Wayne, outside of Detroit (6,351, up from 6,176 on Monday), Oakland (6,306, up from 6,178) and Macomb (4,544, up from 4,425).

Detroit itself now stands at 7,904 confirmed cases and 728 confirmed deaths. Although this is still an uptick from the 7,736 cases and 641 deaths total on Monday, it’s still much lower compared to the city’s previous rates.

Confirmed cases in each of the Upper Peninsula’s counties still number in the single digits and the teens, with Marquette County reporting the highest number of cases at 35. 

Wayne County has dropped from the fifth to the sixth highest number of deaths in the nation’s counties, behind five New York counties. 

The average age of people who died from the virus has risen slightly to 74. Michigan still ranks 11th nationwide for number of tests, and 26th for number of tests per million residents.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard


University of Michigan Hospital receives $649,000 to expand telehealth

Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan Hospital has received $649,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to expand its telehealth program, in which health care workers treat patients through online “video visits” with patients at their homes instead of in-person hospital visits.

The video visits are meant to keep hospital beds free for the sickest coronavirus patients, and keep patients who don’t have the virus out of health care facilities where they could contract the virus from other patients. University of Michigan Hospital will use the video visits to treat “high-risk” COVID-19 patients who are recovering at home, and patients who don’t have the virus but need medical attention unrelated to COVID-19. 

The Federal Communications Commission awarded the money from a $200 million pot in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, intended to expand telehealth during the pandemic. According to an announcement from the FCC,  the agency has awarded $6.94 million from the pot so far. The University of Michigan Hospital was one of five health care providers included in Tuesday’s funding announcement, and the only one in Michigan. Hospital officials were not immediately available for comment.

“Telehealth is proving to be an invaluable resource to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement announcing the awards. “From implementing remote patient monitoring to helping low-income patients receive care in their communities, I am confident that the funding we approved today will help health care providers expand their telehealth efforts in New York, Michigan and elsewhere.” — Kelly House


Monday, April 20

Michigan has logged 32,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 2,468 confirmed deaths as of Monday morning, according to newly released state data. 

There were 576 new cases and 77 new deaths reported in the last 24 hours, another possible indicator that the rate of the virus’s spread could be slowing. That’s the lowest number of new cases reported in one day since March 26, and the lowest number of new deaths since April 5. On Sunday, the state reported 633 new COVID-19 cases in the prior day. 

But much of the apparent slowdown is happening in southeast Michigan, where the state’s population density is highest. A countywide analysis of the state’s coronavirus cases by Bridge Magazine shows that many outstate areas, particularly in upper Michigan, have yet to see a surge, while others are only now approaching a peak.

The three counties of metro Detroit, which make up about 77 percent of the state’s cases, have reported relatively fewer increases in confirmed cases since last week. These three counties are Wayne, outside of Detroit (6,176, up from 6,088 on Sunday), Oakland (6,178, up from 6,109) and Macomb (4,425, up from 4,360).

The city of Detroit, which has been the hardest-hit in the state, now stands at 7,736 confirmed cases and 641 confirmed deaths. Although this is still an uptick from the 7,604 cases and 618 deaths total on Sunday, it’s comparatively far lower than the city’s previous reported rates.

The state’s fatality rate rose slightly from 7 percent to 8 percent, although according to the state Department of Health and Human Services, this can be attributed in part to the fact that tests were previously prioritized for hospitalized patients exhibiting severe COVID-19 symptoms. Thus, the fatality rate should fall as more people with mild symptoms are tested.

Michigan still ranks 11th nationwide for number of tests, and 25th for number of tests per million residents.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard. — Ashley Wong


State regulators receive 56 requests for environmental enforcement leniency

Michigan environmental regulators have received 56 requests to defer regulatory enforcement or delay required pollution monitoring during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a state database made public Monday.

Most requests sought extensions to pollution monitoring and reporting deadlines. One company, concerned about social distancing, wanted relief from a requirement to collect mercury samples with a two-person team. A gas station in Linden said it couldn’t pay a fine because the statewide shutdown has caused financial hardship. 

Regulators have granted most requests at least partially, while 18 are still under review.

A statement Monday from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy stated that the department expects entities that emit pollutants to “continue to adhere to environmental laws and all conditions of permits that were in force when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's State Home, Stay Safe order went into effect.”

“However,” the release states, “EGLE recognizes that social distancing requirements, temporarily idled operations and other COVID-related complications can make it unsafe or unreasonable right now to comply with certain obligations.”

The requests provide a window into environmental protection activities that have been put on hold during the pandemic, as well as a glimpse into the pandemic’s impact on Michigan’s economy.

Several companies told environmental regulators they are unable to conduct air or water quality testing, pay fines or fulfill other regulatory requirements because their facilities have been shut down amid statewide stay-at-home orders. 

Auto manufacturers reported that stalled assembly lines rendered them unable to conduct facility maintenance, air quality sampling and other activities. LKQ, an auto parts supplier in Belleville, cited “the pandemic and the economy” in its request for extra time to respond to a violation letter EGLE had sent the company. 

Building materials manufacturer Louisiana Pacific, in Newberry, requested an extension for air quality testing because the plant is not fully operational. The Ravenna Ductile iron foundry, near Muskegon, told regulators it has suspended production and thus cannot monitor water discharges because “there is no water running through the system.”

View the full database here. — Kelly House


Greenhouses, garden centers propose May 1 open

Michigan’s retail greenhouses and garden centers, in an action plan sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, said they are ready to open and operate on May 1.

Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council detailed how greenhouses and garden centers would safely operate, provide paychecks and meet the needs of consumers during the state’s health crisis. Michigan greenhouses and garden centers said they want to be part of the first phase of business reopenings, which Whitmer indicated she hopes to begin around May 1. 

”The threat and impact of COVID-19 is real, and we are not discounting that,” Dave Mast of Andy Mast Greenhouses in Grand Rapids and president of the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Council said in a statement. “We feel it is our responsibility to operate in a safe way upon reopening and that is why garden centers have taken carefully targeted steps to ensure safe operations, including changes to how we do business.” 

The changes to greenhouse operations include:

    Offering online shopping, call ahead orders, curbside pickup or delivery as available.

   Limiting the number of customers near the cash registers and in the store at any given time. Many retailers are marking the floor in check-out lines to encourage social distancing.

  •       Sanitizing all carts, baskets, door handles throughout the day, as well as the credit card pads.
  •       Sanitizing all surfaces regularly.
  •       Having hand sanitizer available at the checkout for consumers and staff.
  •      Requiring social distancing between staff and customers in the store, grounds and greenhouses.  Greenhouses are so large, social distancing is not hard and the person-per-square foot guidelines are easily met.

The greenhouse industry in Michigan employs more than 9,000 people across the state and contributes $740 million to the economy annually.


Sunday, April 19

Sunday case count continues to indicate a decline

The Sunday count of new coronavirus cases continued to indicate a decline in Michigan.

On Sunday morning, the state reported 633 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours. That’s the fewest daily new cases since March 26, a more than three-week span of grief that saw daily cases peak at nearly 2,000.

The total number of confirmed cases in the state is now 31,424.

There were 83 new deaths reported Sunday, bringing the state total to 2,391. That’s similar to the 81 deaths reported Saturday, and a drop from five previous days of reported deaths in the triple digits.

One caution about the declining figures: Michigan totals reported on Sundays tend to be lower, according to state officials. The state did not say whether the Sunday tally gully, which has occurred for several weeks, is a reflection of decreased testing on weekends, or decreased reporting by private labs. Last Sunday, on April 12, for example, there were just 645 new cases reported, but 997 reported the next day.

While case totals are lower in recent days, low is a relative term for the mind-numbing numbers connected with the deadly pandemic. In just the past eight days, there were more confirmed COVID-19 deaths (999) in Michigan than traffic fatalities in all of 2018 (974). Monday marks one month since the first coronavirus death was reported in Michigan. 

One positive note: The percentage of Michigan residents tested who were found to be positive for COVID-19 has gone down significantly, to 17 percent in the latest 24-hour reporting period. While still high, that “positivity rate” has been as much as twice as high in recent weeks. 

A high rate of positive tests suggests that many people that contracted the virus have not yet been tested, including people with mild or no symptoms. That makes sense in Michigan, which has imposed fairly strict criteria for who could be tested due to the limited availability of testing in the first weeks of the infection surge. 

Countries that broadly test their populations have much lower rates of positive cases. The decline in positive results in Michigan would thus appear to be a welcome indicator. 


Govs. Whitmer, DeWine contest Trump administration on state testing capacity

Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Sunday their states have the laboratory capacity to dramatically increase testing for the coronavirus, but they don’t have the supplies to conduct those tests.

Both state and federal officials and public health experts say increased testing is critical to lifting stay-at-home orders imposed in Michigan and most states, in order to know who is infection-free and can return to work.

“The story in Michigan is we have the capacity to double or triple the number of tests that we're doing, but we need some of these supplies,” Whitmer said on “Meet the Press,” where she appeared with DeWine. 

Both governors face increased demands from conservative political forces and some of their constituents to begin reopening their states’ economies. 

“The reagents (chemicals needed to test for COVID-19) and the swabs (used to collect a sample for testing) are absolutely essential,” Whitmer said. Labs “can't process all these tests if you can't take the sample and protect it and move forward through testing, and so while our capabilities are there, these important supplies are not.”

Minutes before Whitmer and DeWine were interviewed, Vice President Mike Pence appeared on the same news show and said that states have enough testing capacity to begin reopening their economies. Pence said states “have the testing capacity sufficient to monitor people that may have symptoms so we can identify them and do contact tracing, … to ensure that we don't see a resurgence of the coronavirus.”  

DeWine said, however, that testing capacity doesn’t matter if states don’t have enough supplies to conduct tests. 

“I could probably double, maybe even triple, testing in Ohio virtually overnight” if the state had the supplies, he said. Ohio is asking the FDA to approve lab testing that uses a “slightly different formula” for testing, which DeWine said would make more tests available.

Stay-at-home orders in many states have caused an unprecedented spike in unemployment. In Michigan alone, more than a million Michigan workers have filed unemployment claims. 

Whitmer acknowledged Sunday that Michigan’s lockdown is “one of the nation’s more conservative,” but said it was warranted by the high number of confirmed cases and deaths in the state. She has hinted that she will soon announce some easing of the economic restrictions, even as she expresses continued concern about a second spike in coronavirus cases if social distancing is lifted too early.

A Harvard University study suggests that the number of coronavirus tests conducted per day needs to triple before states can reopen. Currently in the U.S., there are about 45 tests per 100,000 people conducted daily. The Harvard study recommends 152 tests per 100,000 residents daily.


Saturday, April 18

Michigan adds 768 cases, 81 deaths Saturday

Michigan added 768 coronavirus cases and 81 deaths to its coronavirus toll on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 30,791 and deaths to 2,308.

The totals continue an overall downward trend in cases from the virus that, at its peak, prompted nearly 2,000 positive daily cases a little more than two weeks ago.

New records show that, in the past few days, the percentage of positive tests for the virus has fallen to about 20 percent, down from more than 40 percent two weeks ago.

Michigan’s fatality rate from the virus remains relatively high at 7 percent, while at least  3,237 people have recovered from the virus.


Friday, April 17

State hospitals have lost $750 million this year

Michigan’s hospitals lost an estimated $600 million through April 3, and spent $150 million through that time buying protective equipment and other supplies to prepare for the influx of COVID-19 patients, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

The estimates are preliminary, a snapshot of the economic shock waves that have reverberated through Michigan hospitals big and small, urban and rural, in the past five weeks. The losses are based on a survey the trade group sent to independent hospitals and two dozen health systems that had a response rate of about 75 percent.

Health systems and hospitals in recent days have announced deep staff cuts, as Michigan COVID-19 cases climbed past 30,000 Friday while deaths totaled 2,227The losses are blamed on a decline of revenue-generating, non-emergency procedures such as knee and hip replacements and canceled office visits.

“Hospitals have had to make very difficult decisions because of staffing because of these huge financial strain on them. At the time we need staff most, hospitals are having to make difficult decisions about what they can afford,”  said  Ruthanne Sudderth, spokeswoman for the hospital association.— Robin Erb


Plans to reopen state may come next week

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be detailing plans next week to reopen the economy, she said at a press conference Friday. While it’s still too early to tell when it will be safe to allow some people to go back to work, it’s likely that returns to work will be “phased in carefully so that we can track the impact of lifting social distancing measures,” she said. 

In determining what businesses can re-open when, officials will be weighing factors such as: 

  • Whether workers interact with public
  • Whether workplace is indoors or outdoors
  • How closely workers work to one another
  • Whether workers use shared tools or machinery
  • The number of people in a workplace

Any return to work will also likely include new requirements to guard against a resurgence, Whitmer said. That might include requiring workers to wear masks and get screened before entering work, or requiring employers to rearrange facilities to enable social distancing or installing handwashing stations.

“We’re not there yet. The rate of infection remains high, especially in certain parts of our state,” Whitmer said. “The threat of a second spike that overloads our hospitals is still very real if we don’t get this right.”

Whitmer and chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun also said during the press briefing Friday: 

  • That the rate of coronavirus cases has plateaued in Michigan and some hospitals are now discharging more patients than they’re admitting. 
  • Michigan lags on testing compared to other states because there is a shortage of reagents, swabs and other supplies needed to perform tests. 
  • The state is training “hundreds if not thousands” more contract tracers — people who track down those who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 to warn them.
  • Mental health and wellness services are now available for free through the state.  — Riley Beggin

Michigan’s confirmed cases exceed 30,000

Michigan had 760 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 134 new deaths, according to data released by the state as of Friday morning.

There are now 30,023 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 2,227 related deaths, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported, up from the 2,093 deaths and 29,263 cases reported on Thursday.

The three counties of metro Detroit - Wayne, outside of Detroit (5,819, up from 5,619), Oakland (5,901, up from 5,778) and Macomb (4,145, up from 3,992) - remain at about 80 percent of the state’s cases. The city of Detroit itself now has 7,414 cases and 582 deaths, just up from 7,387 cases and 538 deaths on Thursday.

Although metro Detroit makes up 83 percent of the state’s deaths, some smaller counties in Michigan are reporting high fatality rates relative to their population. The Upper Peninsula’s Dickinson County recorded a fatality rate of 67 percent, while Gogebic County and Grand Traverse County have fatality rates of 25 percent and 23.5 percent respectively. 

For comparison, the fatality rates in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties are at 7.8, 7.5 and 9 percent respectively.

Benzie County, near Traverse City, is the only county in lower Michigan that remains without any confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Michigan now ranks fifth in the country for cases and  for the number of deaths per million residents. With 97,093 tests conducted as of Thursday, Michigan is 11th in the nation for number of overall tests, but 27th for number of tests per million residents.

As of Friday, the fatality rate of COVID-19 in Michigan is 7 percent. African Americans make up 40 percent of the state’s deaths, but just 14 percent of the state’s population.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard. — Ashley Wong


Whitmer hints at 'some relaxing' of restrictions on May 1

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hinted Friday that there could be “some relaxing come May 1” of restrictions placed on residents and businesses meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Appearing on Good Morning America Friday morning, Whitmer said she governors in the Midwest are working together to share information and best practices, but that states are likely to still vary in how they approach lifting stay-home orders and the closure of bars and restaurants.

[May 1] “is two weeks away, and the information and the data and our ability to test is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to tell you precisely where we’ll be in a week from now, much less two,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer did not hint at what those eased restrictions might look like in her national TV appearance, which came two days after thousands protested the stay-at-home order in Lansing and a day after President Donald Trump released proposed guidelines for relaxing social distancing orders.

Whitmer was scheduled to provide an update on the state’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic at 3 p.m. Friday. — Ron French


State braces for surge in unemployment recertifications

Michigan’s wave of jobless claims since March 15 crashed the state’s filing system and sent officials scrambling to fix it.

The capacity issues were prompted by 1,041,015 people seeking benefits as coronavirus shut-downs affect close to 25 percent of Michigan’s workforce.

Now the state is bracing for another crush to the unemployment system: People trying to keep their benefits.

As a result, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency as of today is offering suggestions and a how-to video to help people navigate how they stay in the system.

Under state unemployment insurance regulations, anyone receiving benefits has to re-certify their claim every two weeks. Not every rule remains in place. For example, the newly jobless don’t have to prove that they’re seeking alternative employment.

However, that two-week cycle of notifying the state remains to retain a recipient in the system - and receiving payments, which top out at $362 per week from the state and now include $600 weekly federal payments. 

The first new rule: Don’t do it on Monday.

“Workers who need to certify their claims should avoid doing so on Monday and instead certify later in the week during off-peak hours,” said UIA Director Steve Gray in a news release. “The day of the week you certif doesn’t impact benefit amounts and by spreading out the certifications you’ll keep the system up and running and allow others filing claims to access their accounts.” 

That’s similar advice to first-time applicants, many of whom learned over the past month that initiating and checking a claim between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. could give them the best chance of accessing the webpage.

Claimants can certify their claim by visiting Michigan.gov/UIA  and signing into their MiWAM account.

Watch the video on certifying claims here. Still need help? Check out an infographic here

The UIA says every eligible worker in Michigan who applies for unemployment benefits will receive them. The UIA will be accepting claims and benefit applications back-dated to reflect the layoff date due to COVID-19.— Paula Gardner


Whitmer to begin laying out economic plan next week

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is planning a series of news conferences next week to begin laying out plans for a phased-in reopening of the state economy, with the aim of beginning to relax regulations by May 1 if the coronavirus curve continues to trend downward, she told business leaders Friday. 

“I’ll share more and more each day, so that people can really understand the regional aspect, the work shed aspect and the type of work, so that you can understand where there’s the least amount of risk and where we can get started first,” Whitmer said on a conference call with the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

“And that eventually each wave will come if we are successful and we will ramp back up to full production.”

Whitmer’s comments came one day after she announced a regional collaboration with other Midwest governors and President Donald Trump shared with state leaders a blueprint that also recommended a phased in approach based on case counts, testing and hospital capacity. 

The governor did not say what those phases might look like in Michigan, or how long each might last, but Whitmer said she and a team of advisers are considering risk factors, including geography, travel patterns and best practices employers could take to mitigate risk for employees and customers. 

“You’re all very enthusiastic about getting back to work,” she told business leaders. “I am too. This is tough stuff. No one’s more anxious than I am about that prospect.” — Jonathan Oosting


Michigan United Conservation Club sues Whitmer over boating ban

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs have announced plans to sue Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over a ban on motorized boating included in her statewide stay-home order.

The nonprofit outdoor organization’s executive board voted 14-to-1 to authorize the lawsuit, according to a release.

In a letter sent Thursday to Whitmer, MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter called the order harmful to anglers, for whom the spring season brings the “greatest diversity of fishing.”

“MUCC is cognizant of the public health crisis associated with COVID-19 and supports the administration in taking well-informed action to curb the spread of this novel virus,” Trotter wrote. “Our members, our friends and our families have been greatly impacted by this virus, and we mourn the losses to our great state. However, throughout this ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order, Michigan anglers, boaters, hunters and recreationists have been left confused and frustrated with the prohibition of motorized boating.”

In its announcement of the planned lawsuit, MUCC acknowledged the risk that COVID-19 could spread at popular spring fishing spots such as Tippy Dam Recreation Area, which was so overrun with spring salmon anglers that the state Department of Natural Resources ordered it closed last month.

“We support measures to mitigate risks in these highly-frequented locations,” Trotter stated in the letter to Whitmer. “However, these are only a few small examples of the thousands of public and private accesses we have throughout Michigan that are infrequently visited by people with motorboats and could be vital to Michiganders’ mental health and wellbeing during this time.”

In a letter to members, the club also noted confusion about whether rod and gun shooting ranges can still operate under the stay-at-home order, and advised range owners who aren’t sure whether they can keep them open to “take this issue up with local law enforcement.” — Kelly House


Thursday, April 16

Michigan death toll stands at 2,093

Michigan health officials reported 172 more deaths Thursday from the coronavirus. That brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 2,093. Of the 172 deaths in the last 24 hours, 152 of them were in Metro Detroit’s Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, with 100 alone in Wayne, home of Detroit. 

Reported confirmed cases rose 1,204 to 29,263, up from 28,059 the previous day. Metro Detroit also still comprises the majority of the state’s cases: Wayne, outside of Detroit (5,619 confirmed coronavirus cases, rising from 5,408), Oakland (5,778, up from 5,476) and Macomb (3,992, up from 3,792) counties, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Five counties in the Upper Peninsula have no confirmed cases. The data included a new category of case fatality rate. (67 percent in Dickinson County to 2 percent in Ingham and Ottawa counties)

The age of the deceased has ranged from 20 to 107, with the average age of those dying from the disease being 73.5 years old. 

State labs on Tuesday, the most recent date for which data are available, completed 4,601 tests, an increase of about 1,169 tests over the previous day. The state reported that 26.5 percent of those tests were positive.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig, returning to work after recovering from the coronavirus, thanked front-line workers in a news conference with Mayor Mike Duggan and encouraged others with the virus. “Fight to survive. If you don’t have the wiring to survive, a lot of times you won’t.” 

Data, which are reported by the state at 3 p.m. ET, include cases through 10 a.m. the same day.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard. — Monica Williams


Unemployment claims continue uptick

Michigan continues to see a wave of unemployment claims, according to initial Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Thursday morning.

Today’s totals bring the Michigan jobless total since the state stay-at-home order to 1,030,320. 

That total includes the 219,320 who filed claims last week. The weekly total represents  a decline from the previous week, when 388,554 state residents filed for unemployment benefits.

Nationally, 5,245,000 people filed for benefits, a decrease of 1,370,000 from the previous week's revised level. That brings the national jobless total to about 22 million.

Michigan’s cap on weekly benefits is $362, with average benefits at $325 in March. Federal stimulus funding is adding $600 per week to unemployment payments for up to four months. State benefits can be paid for up to 26 weeks, with a federal 13-week extension possible under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.

However, the state continues to struggle with the volume of claims. It’s promised more workers and better systems, and asks people filing to observe suggestions to try online between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Saturday phone hours are being added to assist residents who do not have internet access.

The state offers information on filing on its Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity webpage. — Paula Gardner


Wednesday, April 15

State logs 153 new deaths as reported cases drop slightly

Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 1,058 infected and 153 deaths, according to Wednesday morning data reported by the state. 

The 28,059 confirmed cases and 1,921 confirmed deaths signal that the spread of the virus is slowing. (By comparison, confirmed cases were up 1,366 a day earlier.) As of Wednesday morning, Michigan was fourth in the nation for confirmed cases, edged out by Massachusetts.  It remained third, behind New York and New Jersey, for deaths but testing has been slow.

The three counties of metro Detroit still comprise the majority of the state’s cases: Wayne, outside of Detroit (5,408 confirmed coronavirus cases, rising from 5,205), Oakland (5,576, up from 5,364) and Macomb (3,792, up from 3,620) counties, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

The city of Detroit has 7,136 reported cases (a slight climb from 7,004 the previous day) and 475 deaths, as of Wednesday morning data released by the state. Wayne County is the third highest county in the nation for the number of deaths, just behind two New York counties, as of Tuesday afternoon. But the spread is growing outside of metropolitan Detroit. Genesee County, home of Flint, for example, had 1,084 confirmed cases, as of Wednesday. 

Michigan currently ranks 27th in the nation for number of residents tested per capita. More than a dozen drive-thru test sites were opened and expanded across Michigan on Monday, along with a new laboratory in Grand Rapids that’s expected to increase the state’s daily number of reports by 40 percent.

Women are 54 percent of the confirmed coronavirus cases but just 43 percent of the fatalities. About 40 percent of the confirmed cases are in people younger than 50.

The governor’s office said today that members of the 110th Civil Engineering Squadron from Battle Creek Air National Guard Base will be assisting Sparrow Hospital with the construction of a large medical screening tent as part of the state's ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard. — Monica Williams


Tuesday, April 14

Michigan stands at 27,001 cases, 1,768 deaths

Michigan reported 1,366 new cases and 166 new deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to newly-released state data. 

The state has 27,001 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 1,768 confirmed deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services, The three counties of metro Detroit still make up 80 percent of the state’s cases: Wayne, outside of Detroit (5,205, rising from 4,867), Oakland (5,364, up from 5,073) and Macomb (3,620, up from 3,418) counties.

The city of Detroit has 7,004 reported cases and 427 deaths as of Tuesday, up from 6,781 cases and 395 deaths. Wayne County is the third highest county in the nation for the number of deaths, just behind two New York counties, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a news conference on Monday that although the city’s number of deaths is slowing, nursing home deaths continue to be a concern. There have been 26 deaths associated with nursing homes as of Monday.

Michigan currently ranks 27th in the nation for number of residents tested per capita. More than a dozen drive-thru test sites were opened and expanded across Michigan on Monday, along with a new laboratory in Grand Rapids that’s expected to increase the state’s daily number of reports by 40 percent.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard. — Ashley Wong


Oakland County boosts testing, mandates masks for essential workers

Oakland County residents will have greater access to coronavirus testing under a new partnership between the county and Honor Community Health.

Testing at the drive-thru site in Pontiac will be prioritized for first responders, essential business employees and Pontiac residents who display symptoms of COVID-19.

Officials hope to be able to process about 250 tests a day by next week. Results are expected within 24-48 hours.

Health officials chose the Pontiac location because fewer residents there have been tested than from other Oakland county communities, county executive Dave Coulter said Tuesday. Testing will be opened to others as capacity increases, he said.

Testing will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays beginning Thursday at the Oakland County government campus at 1200 N. Telegraph.  A prescription is required. Residents may request one from the Oakland County Health Division at 1-800-848-5533.

Oakland County also now requires essential workers who have face-to-face contact with the public to wear protective masks. 

The late-evening order Monday covers “grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and locations where social distancing measures are not possible,” and it includes employees who have close contact with goods the public may purchase.

Employees, however, “should not” use N95 masks or surgical masks, reserving those for health care workers, Coulter said during a news conference Tuesday morning. Though workers are encouraged to use the store-bought or hand-made masks now, the requirement isn’t in place until April 27, giving businesses time to acquire the facewear for their employees.

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford, who signed the three-page order, also extended requirements that businesses screen employees for coronavirus symptoms and determine whether they have had “close contact” with a person with confirmed COVID-19.


Additionally, business owners also must keep employees and patrons “at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible,” as required by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order.

 — Robin Erb


Driver's license expiring? It’s OK for now.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s newest executive order extends valid driver’s licenses, state identification cards and commercial vehicle registrations that would otherwise expire in the coming weeks.

The order temporarily extends commercial vehicle registrations, including temporary registrations, between March 1 and June 30. Driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and commercial driver’s licenses set to expire between March 1 and May 31 are extended, but renewals must be made by June 30.

The order also suspends penalties for driving with a recently expired but otherwise valid registration. It does not apply to motorists with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses.

License renewal can still be done on-line at www.Michigan.gov/SOS.


Monday, April 13

Beaumont Health posts $54M loss

Beaumont Health, whose CEO raised concerns about health care finances amid COVID-19, was $54 million in the red in net operating income during the first quarter of 2020, according to a news statement emailed Monday evening. 

The $54 million loss in the first quarter of this year was up from a $37.6 million net gain during the first quarter of 2019.

Like other health systems and hospitals, Beaumont, the state’s largest, began canceling non-emergency procedures and converting space to intensive care units as COVID-19 bore down on Michigan. But those are money-making procedures, and there is no certain end to the pandemic or to the state’s shelter-in-place policy, hospital leaders have noted.

“Beaumont has a strong balance sheet with extensive liquidity,” according to the statement released by Beaumont. Still, the system is eyeing cost-cutting measures such as deferring non-essential capital expenditures and “evaluating all expenses, including staffing levels.”

In March, Beaumont CEO John Fox told Bridge that hospital leaders “all agree 110 percent the first mission is patient care. But we also have to have the nurses and supplies and everything else to provide that care, and that requires meeting payroll every two weeks.”

Fox has suggested a $300 billion to $600 billion Hospital System Super Fund that would allow providers to draw down funds over time “to offset the revenue implosion.—Robin Erb


Michigan logs 997 new cases, 115 deaths 

Michigan reported 997 new cases and 115 new deaths as of Monday morning, according to newly-released state data. 

The state now stands at 25,635 confirmed cases and 1,602 confirmed deaths. Metro Detroit still accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s cases, with the counties of Wayne, outside of Detroit (4,867, up from 4,662), Oakland (5,073, up from 4,915) and Macomb (3,418, up from 3,254) being the hardest-hit. 

Detroit itself now has 6,781 cases and 395 deaths, up from 6,502 cases and 368 deaths. If Wayne County were its own state, it would rank sixth in the nation (not including Michigan) for number of deaths. 

African Americans, who are 14 percent of the state’s population, still account for 33 percent of the state’s cases and 40 percent of the state’s deaths.

Michigan ranks 27th in the nation for number of residents per capita who have been tested, but third in the nation for number of deaths behind New York and New Jersey, but just slightly ahead of Massachusetts on Monday afternoon.
See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard. — Ashley Wong


Sunday, April 12

Michigan reports 645 cases on holiday weekend

Michigan reported 645 new coronavirus cases and 95 new deaths as of Sunday morning, according to new state data. 

This marks the first time since March 29 that fewer than 1,000 new cases were reported in one day, although the state Department of Health and Human Services noted that the reported decrease may be due to a reduction in the number of laboratory tests performed over the weekend and on holidays rather than a decline in the number of cases. The number of new deaths also decreased from Saturday’s count of 111, according to the state DHHS.

The new numbers bring Michigan to 24,638 cases and 1,487 deaths. Metro Detroit remains the hardest hit, with cases in Wayne, outside of Detroit (4,662, up from 4,565), Oakland (4,915, up from 4,802) and Macomb (3,254, up from 3,164) counties accounting for about 80 percent of cases statewide. 

The city of Detroit alone reported 6,502 cases and 368, up from 6,386 cases and 348 deaths.

The virus had been growing in some outstate areas such as Genesee County, home of Flint. On Friday, cases rose by 73, but only rose 36 on Sunday.

Statewide, 33 percent of all cases and 40 percent of deaths are African Americans, who comprise 14 percent of Michigan's population.

At least 433 residents had recovered from COVID-19 as of Friday, although the state’s definition of “recovered” is defined as anyone who survives 30 days or more after a positive diagnosis.

Michigan remained third in reported deaths in the nation, behind New York and New Jersey, but ranks 13th in number of residents tested.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard— Ashley Wong  


Saturday, April 11

At least 5 grocery workers died; confirmed cases near 24,000

Kroger and Meijer on Saturday confirmed their first employee deaths from the coronavirus. 

Four Kroger employees who worked at stores in southeast Michigan — in Northville at 425 North Center; Troy at 3125 John R, Grosse Pointe at 16919 Kercheval and Livonia at 30935 Five Mile — died from COVID-19, the company confirmed. 

“We are mourning along with their families during this extraordinarily difficult time,” Kroger president Ken DeLuca said in a statement. “We are coordinating with local health departments and taking steps to support and safeguard our associates and customers.” 

Meijer communications director Frank Guglielmi confirmed the company lost its “first Meijer team members” due to complications related to COVID-19, but did not specify the number of employees or the locations where they worked. 

“Every member of our team is a member of the Meijer family and this loss is deeply felt by all of us, especially those at the impacted stores,” Guglielmi said via email. “We share our profound condolences with the team members’ families and friends as they process this loss during these extraordinarily difficult times.”

Both companies said they are providing counseling to employees and following enhanced cleaning protocols in all their stores.

Grocery stores are among the essential industries that are allowed to remain open under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order, which was extended Thursday and expanded to include additional restrictions for large stores.  — Riley Beggin


State building only a quarter of possible beds in new Novi field hospital

The field hospital to be built at the Suburban Collection Showplace convention center in Novi will first be built with only 250 beds for coronavirus patients, rather than the 1,100 beds it could accommodate.

Michelle Grinnell, spokesperson for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which directs plans for the facilities, told Bridge via email Saturday the fewer beds are “not a strategic change” from when the facility was announced on Monday. 

“Based on where things currently stand with the hospital surge in southeast Michigan and additional bed capacity coming online,” the state will start with 250 beds and ramp up to 1,100 “as circumstances dictate,” Grinnell said. 

“It is always easier to ramp up capacity as needed than it is to build out that maximum capacity from day one. We are looking to do this in the most thoughtful and deliberate way while also ensuring we have every resource available to support over-capacity hospital systems and ensure the health and well-being of patients suffering from COVID-19.”

The announcement comes one day after Michigan Medicine announcing it was pausing plans to build a field hospital to accommodate COVID-19 patients.

Cases have slowed in recent days in Michigan, with with 1,210 new cases announced Saturday, 1,279 on Friday, 1,158 on Thursday and 1,376 on Wednesday. The highest daily number of cases to date was April 3 with 1,953 new cases. To date, the state has had 23,993 cases of the virus, primarily in southeast Michigan.

Nick Zager, chief of alternative care projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District, reportedly told media touring the facility Saturday the group scaled back plans for beds at the Novi location as “things are changing very quickly.”

The Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the new facility on April 6 and is expected to be completed by April 20, spokesperson Penny Carroll told Bridge on Saturday.  — Riley Beggin


1,210 new cases reported Saturday

Michigan had 1,210 new coronavirus cases and 111 new deaths as of 10 a.m. Saturday, according to newly-reported state data. 

The number of new cases is the second-least since March 31, further indication that the spread of the virus is slowing, while deaths also declined from the previous day’s count of 205.

Those deaths included 30 cases from all of last week that were added Friday because of the state’s new methodology, which compares COVID-19 cases with death certificates to identify deaths that may have previously been missed. 

Overall, Michigan has at least 23,993 cases and 1,392 deaths. The majority remain in southeast Michigan, where cases in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties make up nearly 80 percent of cases statewide. 

Wayne County and Detroit had 43 new deaths on Friday, just over a third of the state's total.  Statewide,  33 percent of all cases and 41 percent of deaths are African Americans, who comprise 14 percent of Michigan's population.

See more in Michigan case numbers and trends on Bridge’s Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard. — Riley Beggin


Michigan adds nine drive-through testing sites

Michigan is partnering with health centers statewide to open nine drive-through testing sites, expand three others and run tests through a commercial lab in Grand Rapids, state officials announced Saturday.

Together, the sites will increase the state’s number of daily test results by around 40 percent and will open Saturday through next week. Another testing location in Detroit will open soon in an undetermined location. 

“Better access to testing and quicker results are critical to our public health officials who are fighting coronavirus and to our residents who have symptoms of COVID-19 and need answers, treatment and peace of mind,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “More testing will save lives.”

The new sites will include two “large-scale” testing drive-thrus in Detroit in Flint, which will test 750 and 250 people per day respectively.

New sites in Bad Axe, Atlanta, Battle Creek, Bay City, Benton Harbor, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Traverse City and expanded sites in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Saginaw will test about 100 people per day. 

Those who want to get a test must first call the site’s patient screening line or their doctor. 

Priority will go to those who have been hospitalized, those with symptoms and are older than 65, and first responders or essential workers or in “congregate facilities” such as jails, nursing homes or homeless shelters. — Riley Beggin


Friday, April 10

Michigan records deadliest day in pandemic

Michigan recorded its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic, with 205 deaths in the past 24 hours ending at 10 a.m. Friday, according to newly released state figures. 

The deaths are an 80 percent increase from 117 the day before, bringing Michigan’s toll to 1,281. The increase comes as the daily rate of new cases is slowing, increasing 1,279 statewide to 22,783.

The new cases are up slightly from Thursday, but well below the peak of nearly 2,000 on April 3. 

Michigan ranks third among states nationwide behind New York and New Jersey, despite being only the tenth-most populous state.

Friday's tally included 30 new deaths from prior days that the state now considers from the coronavirus. That's because the state is now using a new methodology that, once a week, will compare known COVID-19 cases with death certificates.

Although the virus is spreading statewide, it remains largely focused in southeast Michigan. More than half of Friday’s deaths, 105, were in Wayne County, while Detroit’s cases rose to 6,218, with a total of 327 deaths.

In all, the Tri-County region of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties account for more than 80 percent of the state’s total cases.

The virus, meanwhile, is increasing in some outstate areas such as Genesee County, home of Flint, where confirmed cases rose 73 Friday to 828, with 57 deaths. 

Michigan also released new data showing COVID-19 cases in penitentiaries, reporting 335 cases and five deaths in Michigan prisons and five deaths and 14 cases and no deaths in federal prisons.

Visit the Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard to see Michigan case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics. — Kelly House


Michigan Medicine delays opening field hospital as caseload slows

Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan will not open its field hospital Friday as planned because of a slowdown in the rise in COVID-19 cases across Michigan.

However, plans are on hold only, said Mary Masson, hospital spokeswoman.

“We are in communication with state officials to coordinate and determine future need,” Masson said in an email to Bridge.

The climb of Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases seems to be slowing, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

While Michigan’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 21,000 by Thursday morning, the steep climb appeared to begin to flatten.

Still, reported deaths jumped 117 in a single day to 1,076, according to the data.

And while Michigan’s COVID-19 cases continue to be concentrated in southeast Michigan, state data indicate the virus is getting a stronger foothold in less-populated areas outstate. — Robin Erb


Thursday, April 9

Henry Ford studying hydroxychloroquine

The first large-scale U.S. study to answer the question into whether the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, can prevent COVID-19 infection has begun enrolling 3,000 participants.

Announced last week, the randomized, double-blinded study is focused on  healthcare workers and first responders in southeast Michigan.

Led by the Henry Ford Health System, the study has been dubbed the WHIP COVID-19 study for answering this question: “Will Hydroxychloroquine Impede or Prevent COVID-19?”

There are no FDA-approved preventions, vaccines or treatments against the virus that was identified in December during the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China. Henry Ford doctors have been prescribing the drug off-label to only sick, hospitalized, COVID-19-positive patients, but research has not definitely determined the drug’s effect.

Hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory diseases. Serious side effects are rare, but common side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache and itching, according to Henry Ford. Mayo Clinic also offers a long list of symptoms that include dizziness, blurred vision and blistering.

Preliminary results from the study are expected in about four months.

Enrollment is limited. Participants must:

  • Be an employee of a southeast Michigan hospital system, first responders for Detroit, or a bus driver for the Detroit Department of Transportation
  • Be between 18-75 years old
  • Have no current COVID-19 symptoms or previous COVID-19 diagnosis
  • Have no significant heart or retinal disease
  • Not be pregnant or nursing

Volunteers will give a blood sample and then receive a supply of eight weeks of unidentified pills: a once-a-week dose of hydroxychloroquine, a once-a-day dose, or a placebo. 

Participants won’t know whether they’re receiving a regimen of hydroxychloroquine or a placebo. That allows researchers to tease out from the comparison groups whether the drug had an impact.

More information on participation can be found at www.HenryFord.com/whipCOVID19.  -- Robin Erb


Michigan confirmed cases surpass 21K but climb slows

The climb of Michigan’s confirmed coronavirus cases seems to be slowing, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Michigan’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 21,000, according to data compiled through Thursday morning, an increase of 1,158 cases statewide.

Reported deaths climbed, however, jumping 117 to 1,076, the state reported, an increase over the 114 deaths reported Wednesday, the most in a single day of the pandemic, and the 110 on Tuesday. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the state continues to rank third in cases and in deaths behind New York and New Jersey and ahead of the more populous California.

Detroit’s death toll rose to 275 (up slightly from 251) and total cases climbed to 6,061, up from 5,824. Michigan’s cases continue to be concentrated in the metropolitan area. Nearby Oakland County has now recorded a total 4,247 cases (up from 4,007 on Wednesday) and 234 deaths; Wayne, exclusive of Detroit (4,032, up from 3,802 cases; 229 deaths, up from 195) and Macomb (2,783 cases, 165 deaths) followed.

State data indicate the virus is continuing to gain steam in less-populated areas outside of southeast Michigan, including Flint’s Genesee County, where cases hit 755 (up from 713) and deaths 48 (up from 32), and in St. Clair, Clinton and Hillsdale counties.

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended a stay-at-home order. Michigan residents must stay home and away from non-essential workplaces through April 30, Whitmer said Thursday, extending an initial order that went into effect on March 24. 

For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coroanvirus Dashboard, showing case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics.


Michigan unemployment claims surge, setting another record

For the third time in as many weeks, Michigan has set a new record for the volume of unemployment insurance claims filed by newly jobless residents.

More than 384,000 Michigan residents filed initial unemployment claims for the week ended April 4, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor . The claims point to continued economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and forced business closures.

The 384,844 statewide claims were up from 304,335 for the week ended March 28 and from 128,006 the week ended March 21. 

Combined, the 817,185 initial claims filed over the past three weeks in Michigan are more than in all of 2018 and 2019 combined. 

Claims for the week ended April 4 were up about 5,600 percent from the 6,682 claims in the first week of April last year. — Jonathan Oosting


Wednesday, April 8

Michigan coronavirus cases surpass 20,000

Michigan’s number of coronavirus cases surpassed 20,000 on Wednesday on an additional 1,376 cases statewide. 

Reported deaths jumped 114 to 959, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported, which is the most in a single day of the pandemic, slightly more than the 110 reported Tuesday. Wednesday’s figures were the lowest jump since March 31.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the state continues to rank third in cases and in deaths behind New York and New Jersey and ahead of the more populous California.

Detroit’s death toll rose to 251 (up slightly from 222) and total cases climbed to 5,824,  with 80 percent of Michigan’s cases concentrated in the metropolitan area. The slight uptick suggests a flattening of the curve. Nearby Oakland County has now recorded a total 4,007 cases (up from 3,736 on Tuesday) and 234 deaths; Wayne (3,802 cases, 195 deaths) and Macomb (2626 cases, 141 deaths) followed.

State data indicate the virus is gaining strength in less-populated areas outside of southeast Michigan, including Flint’s Genesee County,  where cases hit 713 (up from 638) and deaths 39 (up from 32), and in St. Clair, Clinton and Hillsdale counties.

Through Tuesday, the state had administered more than 50,000 COVID-19 tests.

For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coroanvirus Dashboard, showing case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics. — Monica Williams


State unemployment office adding hours, staff

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency said Wednesday it is adding staff and hours to handle the massive amount of claims that continue to come in amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The UIA is extending call-center service by one hour daily. The state will now take unemployment insurance calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. 

As Bridge Magazine reported yesterday, the UIA is also increasing staffing at the call center, which usually has about 130 employees. As of March 30, there were 300 staff members answering calls. The agency estimates that number will climb to 500 by the end of the week. 

“We continue to ramp up our services to make sure every eligible Michigander receives their benefits as quickly as possible and we’re asking workers to please reserve the phone lines for those who cannot go online or are having trouble with their account,” Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio said in a statement.

 

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Comments

Leslie Watson
Mon, 02/10/2020 - 10:29am

Transmission has occurred without symptoms. “There’s no doubt after reading this paper that asymptomatic transmission is occurring,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. “This study lays the question to rest.”
(Retrieved from TheHill.)

Concerned
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:51am

Don't worry! Orange Dummy-in-Chief says it will just go away in April. Last Republican who held the presidency left us with major recession and debt. This current one will leave us with pandemic plague, weakened healthcare, trade war inflation, international instability, and even greater debt. Dems repair what Repugnants break.

Sharyn Radke
Tue, 02/25/2020 - 12:53pm

Concerned: There is no way to "like" on this site. I love your comment. I never looked at it that way but it is so true. Thanks.

Jimin
Thu, 03/05/2020 - 9:35am

Very well said!

Dan
Sat, 03/14/2020 - 7:13pm

Why do you disrespect the president so much? So he may not be perfect by your standards ? United we stand , ( you know the rest? )

Cathy
Fri, 03/27/2020 - 4:09pm

I believe in the motto United We Stand but it's apparent Trump doesn't. During a dire National crisis he choses to denigrate anyone who disagrees and in particular are those states considered blue. While our Governor and other states in the epicenter are requesting valid Federal help, he is busy behaving like the petulant child he has proven time and again, himself to be. Trump's stance has been divide and concur, not unite.

john chastain
Sun, 03/15/2020 - 12:10pm

I have no problem criticizing Trump or the politicians (republicans & democrats) who have hollowed out government on all levels for decades. That being said I don’t believe you’re helping with the style of your criticism. Yes Trump will fail us, supporters and everyone else alike. It is to be expected as anyone who was aware of his inadequacies as a business manager knew before his election. There are people who will not fail us and who will do the best they can in this time of crisis, the majority will not be politicians nor “political” identities, they’ll just be people, ordinary people doing their jobs or helping out voluntarily. Keep them in mind when commenting and ignore Trumps provocation. He like this virus outbreak will pass, all things come to an end including presidencies. Oh and we all break things, the other party rarely does it alone as the democrats who voted for the Iraq war and supported Bush jr. tax cuts should have learned before they voted for them.

L. Laurel
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 6:06pm

Comments like this really irk my nerves

Matt
Mon, 03/16/2020 - 7:42am

I wouldn't give any of them that much credit or responsibility, but some folks clearly revel in helplessness.

Todd
Mon, 03/16/2020 - 1:51pm

Is the illness Corona Virus or TDS(Trump Derangement Syndrome)? Obama was very lethargic is his response to H1N1. Can it snow flake.

Mack
Tue, 03/17/2020 - 4:38pm

On April 21, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first U.S. cases of H1N1. One week later, the Food and Drug Administration approved a diagnostic test. The same day, CDC issued guidance for whether to close schools, resulting in some closures. The actual diagnostic test was shipped on May 1, 2009. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the novel H1N1 to be A pandemic. fairly fast response vaccine was delayed abs 2 months ..

Ed of GB
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 10:23am

A simple point, the vaccine has not been used very much as there is still a fear of side effects.

Dan
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 8:00pm

Trump is at fault. Biden 2020!!!

Terry
Wed, 03/18/2020 - 9:44am

" Dems repair what Repugnants break." You mean like San Francisco, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and other cities and areas Dims have controlled for so long?

John Loughman
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 1:35am

Trump had to fix the lousy economy that Obama left us with. I'd like to see what a democrat would have done different. Probably waited to shut it off for fear of offending someone.

Honest Gal
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 11:55am

That's total BS; what you are saying is FAKE NEWS. I looked it up (the last time someone said what you said, Mr. Loughman). I looked up actual statistics from the National Statistics of something or other (completely bipartisan) , and the only thing Trump did is Not Make The Economy Worse. During Bush, things went bad, during Obama, things got better. Then during Trump, things stayed the same - relatively good - just the way Obama left it! I must commend President Trump for not making the economy any worse! Good Job. But he does divide us. He does divide the U.S. Of this there is NO DOUBT. He labels everyone that has any kind of opposing position. He should be listening to opposing opinions; that's what makes our country GREAT. But he does NOT listen. He hates on people with other opinions (like a little kid), which is another form of DIVIDING US - Look it up: the definition of name-calling. Name-calling is in itself a form of Dividing People Against Other People. It's a propaganda technique for getting people to turn against one-another. And he's so obvious (in his gallant attempts to divide us) that it makes me want to throw-up. He's like the devil - Please Wake Up and in all respect, please smell the BS.

Glock
Tue, 03/31/2020 - 11:21am

Thank you John for your accurate observation. If these critical individuals would simply search Democrat History they would discover exactly who and what Democrats are. Self-centered, egregious, socialists looking to their own egos.

Bones
Wed, 04/01/2020 - 8:36am

As a socialist, I really wish you people would learn what socialism is and isn't. The Democratic party is not and never has been socialist; once upon a time they flirted with Keynesianism, but they've been stripping away the safety net, same as Republicans, for 40 years

Lmao
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 12:21pm

Bizarre that you blame the orange man for this. I'm 100% democrat but it's pretty clear that if Trump had what he really wanted, nothing would have been shut down at all. Wake up. This is being caused by elitist bureaucrats on both sides. It has nothing to do with Trump, though it does appear that anything bad that happens is being blamed on him, as usual. If it were obama, all the good would be blamed on him. The double standard disgusts me and it's why I won't vote anymore.

Yikes
Sat, 04/18/2020 - 3:27am

You are disgusting. You disgrace all of the young men and women who have died to protect this country.

Todd
Mon, 04/20/2020 - 11:29am

Actually Yikes, I'm disgusted that my entire family including myself defended this nation for people like you.

Todd
Mon, 04/20/2020 - 11:14am

He actually never said that. Post a link.

Janice
Fri, 02/28/2020 - 10:40am

People need to use common sense preventative measures and quit panicking. Propaganda and fear are our 2 biggest enemies! Remember when people knew how to take care of themselves, stayed home & kept kids home when they were ill? Let's go back to those days!

Aaron
Fri, 02/28/2020 - 4:46pm

No one in the U.S. has died not much different than the flu this a normal thing that comes out of China their medical facility are lacking U.S has got this by The balls

Honest Gal
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 11:57am

He's still watching re-runs of Fox News from last week.

Rick
Sat, 02/29/2020 - 11:07pm

I'm in the 20% group susceptible to serious complications. The guidelines for testing are very assinine. 80% of those infected will experience a mild infection, namely, a 'cold.' And, for that reason, they will not be tested, because they will be unlikely to even go to a doctor with cold symptoms. So, there will be very low likelihood of knowing how prevalent the virus is in Michigan or elsewhere. I am >70 with chronic illnesses. Goodbye cruel world.

duane
Wed, 03/11/2020 - 1:02am

It sounds like you are describing the flu we have been dealing with for decades. The key for all such infectious diseases is protect yourself, by washing hands, don't touch your face until after washing your hands, avoid contaminating your hands by shaking hands or touching others, and by protecting others by doing all of those and coughing into you arm, avoiding contact with others [especially when you have symptoms].
Being like you, >70 and with a couple of those high risk chronic condition, I am doing what I can and looking to such a bright future I have to where sunglasses, even at night.

The lessons I have learned from identifying and managing risks are that risk is not just the possibility, it is the probability, it is the actions that can be taken to prevent the risk, to avoid the risk, to mitigate the risk, and much has to do with what we have learned from the past. With that knowledge I look forward to each day and on into the future, so where you say 'good bye' I say 'hello' looking forward to confronting whatever comes.
Remember our history with viruses, it was the MERS in 2012, there was SARS in 2002, Ebola virus with the multiple outbreaks since 1976, and they have all proven manageable, so history is good history and shows how our medical professionals and the simple actions we each can take can help us to extend our life times and improving the quality of life.

Cor Ona
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 12:28pm

My mother is in her 80's and feels the same way, except she has taken the initiative, wanting to get it out of the way "as quickly as possible" so she can either "get on with her life, or go home". She has been going to the grocery every day, going on walks with her friends in the city, etc. I don't want to lose her but she is old and it's a possibility every flu season. This is how things have always been handled and the world was always just fine. It seems that Trump has driven the elitists, bureaucrats, and the like so insane from his success for America that they will do anything to see to it that every one is miserable. Pretty sad. I'm almost 60, a heavy smoker and not worried at all, by the way. If I die from this chinese flu, it will not be a state nor national tragedy in any way - It will be a family tragedy, and if that were to happen I hope my friends and family get drunk at my funeral and have a good time.

Gary Lea
Sun, 03/01/2020 - 9:02am

As a senior, I've learned to increase my intake of immune system fortifying foods. Hearing someone cough or sneeze steers my course away from where 'ground zero' took place. Hands must be washed or at least don't touch anywhere above the neck except with a knuckle. Cashiers are always under attack, for some customers either sneeze / cough into a cupped hands or habitually lick their fingertips before separating bills to hand them over.

david
Thu, 03/05/2020 - 10:39am

Isn't price gouging the American way based on capitalism and the free market economy?

duane
Tue, 03/10/2020 - 8:48pm

The American [political] way is best described by Rahm Emanuel [Democrat], "First of all, what I said was, never allow a good crisis to go to waste when it's an opportunity to do things that you had never considered, or that you didn't think were possible." The 'virus' is that crisis that has yet to infect in the numbers in China, South Korea, Italy, and yet there is panic buying of things that are in unlimited in supply [tap water, toilet paper].
What we are seeing are the political hacks reveling in this crisis, using it to attack there political opponent in ways that they exacerbate the fears across America and trying to discredit what the professionals [at CDC, NIH, testing companies, etc.] are doing.

Over 1 month in
Wed, 03/11/2020 - 6:27pm

Breaking news!
A top Department of Homeland Security official says US travel restrictions to Europe are 'under discussion'
By Geneva Sands, Kevin Liptak and Evan Perez, CNN
Updated 5:44 PM ET, Wed March 11, 2020
https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/11/politics/cucinelli-us-travel-restrictions...
"Under discussion"? WTF When is Trump going to protect our borders?????

Barney
Sat, 03/14/2020 - 7:31am

Bridge, please be careful about reporting cases in Michigan. Your article states "A woman from Charlevoix County" has the virus, but Charlevoix has not been exposed to it as a result. Per the Charlevoix Courier, the woman contracted it outside of the county, and has not been to the county since then (https://www.petoskeynews.com/charlevoix/black/coronavirus-identified-in-...).

Donald
Sat, 03/14/2020 - 1:53pm

lot of good it does the house passing that bill Moscow Mitch closed the senate and went home!!!

Donald
Sun, 03/15/2020 - 8:50am

And Ferndale, MI is having a contractors going from house to house to replace 3 year old RF water meters!!!
To spread the disease!!!
Both my wife and I are 70 Years old and have health problems. I am a disable veterans. This was told to the Ferndale water Dept.
I was told that If we did not let them in to change the water meter they would turn off our water and condemned our home!

Matt
Mon, 03/16/2020 - 7:44am

How about stories on something other than Coronavirus or are you considering changing your name?

Donald
Tue, 03/17/2020 - 8:18am

With the backing of Michigan Governor and the Dept of Health Ferndale, MI is having a un tested for the viruses contractors UMS 844-741-6248 going from house to house to replace 3 year old RF water meters and to inspect our homes without a warrant!!!
To spread the coronavirus virus?
Both my wife and I are 70 Years old and have health problems. I am a disable veterans. And was in the hospital for 18 days last fall with clasped lungs! I am on two inhalers to help me breathing. This was told to the Ferndale water Dept. and ask them to postpone the inspection until the national emergency is over!! They do not care they need to inspect my home to make sure I am not stealing their water!!! (248) 546-2374
I was told that If we did not let them in to change the water meter and to inspect my home they would turn off our water and condemned our home!
And it seems that Ferndale has the backing og Michigan’s governor, health Dept!!! Flint all over again!!!!

Anonymous
Sat, 03/21/2020 - 7:15pm

If I were still a young lad and your neighbor, I'd be knockin' on your door too -- to ask if you might spare me a puff from that concoction you've been issued. Seems like quite the trip!

Honest Gal
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 12:22pm

Good Job Donald (the commentator, above). I called Ferndale and they had STOPPED their in-house meter jobs.

Anonymous
Fri, 03/20/2020 - 2:15pm

There are cases known in hospitals that haven’t been reported. There are actually medical staff who are at home in quarantine in a county who has reported zero cases.
There’s something off about this pandemic and what we’re all being told.

Honest Gal
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 12:06pm

and another Fox News watcher unloads! Stop spreading Fake News!

NMI
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 11:53pm

I can actually confirm what this person is saying is true... My nurse wife is convinced this is a conspiracy as a result of this...

Barry Visel
Sat, 03/21/2020 - 7:12pm

CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 38 million flu illnesses, 390,000 hospitalizations and 23,000 deaths from flu.
Where is the concern???? Could we please see a comparable map with Coronavirus?

Rick
Mon, 03/23/2020 - 12:39pm

The seasonal flu has a vaccine. COVID-19 does not.
That's a difference, an important one, but it appears to be lost on you.

Ed of GB
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 10:29am

It is a bit early, but death is the issue. The annual flu "vaccine" is far from 100%. Some years it is next to worthless. That is likely to happen with the Novel vaccine. So, we all need to see how this turns out and stop the panic.

Cor Ona
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 12:31pm

Ed, it's my understanding from the CDC data published recently that the flu vaccine for this last season was actually highly effective compared to previous seasons, which means that a lot of people who would have died from the flu did not, and now all of those vulnerable people are dying from coronavirus instead. Sort of makes it look like most of these deaths were inevitable and all of this hysteria is totally futile.

patricia m nelson
Sat, 03/21/2020 - 7:39pm

I want to hear about the strategic testing to help keep areas currently free of COVID19 continue to be free. Isn't this what South Korea did?

Today's Washington Post said we're 'too late'; but we're not too late in many parts of Michigan.

Ed of GB
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 10:36am

The emphasis on testing is over blown. One can test negative today and positive tomorrow. Testing is really only useful when one has ALL or MOST of the symptoms so as to give the medical experts (doctors/nurses/technicians) clues on remedies. We are wasting testing everyone! It would be great if the Bridge would give statistics on those that have the symptoms, test positive, and any underlying issues, and survivor rates. Telling us how many test positive is interesting, but wasted information. It only spreads panic. All of us carry a number of virus and bacteria every day of our lives!

Cindy Lou Who
Sun, 03/22/2020 - 8:16am

Please ignore the Michigan Chamber! Their response is self-serving and irresponsible. "Shelter in place" would keep the northern areas of the state from being devastated by this affliction. Many Detroit and other urban folks with second homes in the North are coming up here to escape the confines of their infected areas. Please, don't forget about rural areas that do not have the resources/services to adequately respond to this epidemic, especially in an area of senior citizens and low-income residences. Thank you (I hope)

Rotondaron
Wed, 03/25/2020 - 4:31pm

Question: How many people annually, die from "A" flu virus, in Michigan? age groups, general health condition, etc!

cindy mcleod
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 2:57pm

I work in health care..the additional steps will need to be taken!!People just simply are not listening or staying home!!!

Mike
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 5:53pm

Can we please verify what this means?

"The number of coronavirus cases jumped more than 550 on Thursday, a 24 percent increase as deaths rose from 17— 40 percent — to 60." <----- Where is the 40% coming from???

Matt
Fri, 03/27/2020 - 12:24pm

The worse part is that we're not told the change in numbers of tests actually be run to get these results. This neglect makes interpreting this figure meaningless. Seems journalists and politicians are ignorant about statistics or don't care and just grab numbers to generate headlines or propaganda. It is no wonder the trust we have in anyone is down the toilet.

Retired
Fri, 03/27/2020 - 3:28pm

If it's so bad, why is the governor of Michigan allowing construction projects to continue. There is no way all those guys should put there lives on the line to fix the damn roads at this time.

Todd
Fri, 03/27/2020 - 4:20pm

Whitmer is in over her head.

Pat Nelson
Fri, 03/27/2020 - 5:37pm

I don't understand why I see nothing about strategic testing in areas of the state which still have small numbers. Couldn't we stop spread in these areas by doing what South Korea did ....

Moving covid 19 patients into out-state hospitals where those health workers would be exposed, and spread the virus in the so-far uninfected areas seems like the opposite.

Cathy
Sat, 03/28/2020 - 2:40pm

As he increasingly tries to shovel blame for the shortage of medical supplies onto the governors of states with densely populated areas that are suffering the most from the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump was asked on Friday what more he wants them to do. It was, he said, “very simple: I want them to be appreciative.”
I'll stand with the Governor who wisely listened to science to Trump's ire.

Honest Gal
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 12:17pm

He's got an answer for Everything... and this time his answer for how to help those most in need is, shut-up and "... be appreciative." This whole Trump in the White House thing is actually a nightmare and we will all wake-up soon - Not.

Jillena Rose
Sat, 03/28/2020 - 2:49pm

This is Saturday March 28. Yesterday was Friday March 27. Please check your headlines.

Gerry Niedermaier
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 10:59am

I trust the Governor and her Administration. She has taken the reins for this health crisis and is stepping up to the plate with her Executive Orders. They are visionaries and will continue to strive to stay ahead of the virus. But we must adhere to the mandates.

Jack Pine
Tue, 03/31/2020 - 10:18pm

How many test have been administered in Michigan? Why does this number ever get reported?

Barry Visel
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 11:48am

Just curious...why is there almost no reporting on the number of recovered patients?

Thanks
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 12:49pm

Thanks Witty Whitmer, one month should give you plenty of time to destroy the economy and MI’s already low performing school system.

When will the legislature take this woman’s magic wand away?

Kazoo86
Sun, 04/05/2020 - 10:43am

Why do so many issues have to take on a race mode? I don’t think ( some will point this out) that the virus is looking for minorities, to infect and bypass non-minorities. The virus is looking for a host! Period!

Kazoo86
Sun, 04/05/2020 - 10:46am

Don’t say this will peak in 7 days, as people will expect/demand hundreds of ventilators to be available, overnight.

Barry Visel
Mon, 04/06/2020 - 10:24pm

Where are the recovery numbers? How many infective people have recovered? Would that be too positive news to report?

Pastor Robinson
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 9:02am

So if you get sick from something else an have to go to the Hospital you might get the Virus from the Hospital.

D
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 3:23pm

Unlike many states, Michigan doesn’t report data on hospitalizations, recoveries, intensive care patients, patients on ventilators or the number of cases in nursing homes. Why not?

Anonymous
Fri, 04/10/2020 - 1:50pm

The numbers on the map aren't up to date, especially in northern Michigan. There is at least one other case in Presque Isle county, according to the Alpena News.

Paul
Sun, 04/12/2020 - 10:03am

For years Our Federal Government has failed us.. For years Our State and Local Governments have failed us... Politicians both (rep and dem) and the creatures they are need to be cast out by by the people by force if necessary... The only way this nation will rise is when our bill of rights are adhered to (PERIOD)
NEVER SURRENDER, NEVER SUBMIT, ALWAYS QUESTION THE STATUS QUO

Nutty
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 12:52pm

What is horrifying is the thinking going on after the facts. It seems logic guided by experience and wisdom should have been applied first not fire alarms sounding as each action produces another disaster. I don't know if the stats represent the unemployed-self employed who started signing up this week because their money is being dole out by the feds. But it is scary to think 1,000,000 plus UNemployed when there was only 2,000,000 employed according to labor stats working prior to this in Michigan. Good job to all who cheer this on in the mist of facts coming out each day saying this virus was not the crisis but what people did with it is. Quit playing God.

FACTS
Sat, 04/18/2020 - 3:26am

Based on the German and Israeli models, which are absolultely factual models based in SCIENCE, between 3 and 4 million of the 10 million michiganders have already been infected and most have recovered.

This shutdown is nothing short of dementia; Those who support it are incapable of basic reasoning; This is a crime against We The People.

Stop the shutdown. NOW.

Todd
Mon, 04/20/2020 - 11:13am

Damn it took me five minutes to scroll down to the end of this five mile long article. Anyway, the numbers can't be trusted and are proven to be a sham.

Mark R
Sat, 04/25/2020 - 9:06am

Which ones? ....the numbers reported by The Bridge, or the numbers reported by michigan.gov?

Scott
Wed, 04/22/2020 - 3:27pm

Why are your reported numbers significant different than the Michigan gov website?

Mark R
Fri, 04/24/2020 - 12:08pm

I notice your daily new cases reported totals are quite different from what it show on the Michigan.gov website. Why is that?

Kevin Grand
Fri, 05/01/2020 - 8:31am

"Great Lakes Community Engagement, an outreach campaign company headed by Democratic consultant Mike Kolehouse, and Every Action VAN, part of a technology company that has been used by multiple Democratic campaigns, were granted a contract worth nearly $200,000 on April 20 to help coordinate the state’s contact tracing efforts. "

Yeah, I'm certain that AG Nessel will be conducting a very thorough investigation into shenanigans from the democrats looking to update their database.

This is one of the most surprisingly under-reported stories stemming from the Wuhan Virus.

Not only has the media has given this story very scant coverage, but The Bridge's minimal coverage above only reinforces this disappointing trend.

Matt
Sun, 05/03/2020 - 9:53am

Map is interesting and good feature. Would be better if when you scrolled over each county you also included county population.

GShaw
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 4:46pm

Just saw a U.S. Map of covid19 patients, followed by another without NY, Detroit and New Orleans included (NYTimes). Paints a different picture of national virus spread. How about a map of Michigan with and without metro detroit. Might shed some light on outstate spread.

Shawn
Sat, 05/09/2020 - 4:41pm

If you're supposed to be a non partisan news source, stop with the sensationalist headlines.
State the facts as they are and put an appropriate factual daily headline.

May 9, 2020 - "Coronavirus Tracker: 430 new cases, 133 deaths as testing surges", this is sensationalist and meant to make the reader think the numbers are rising at an unexpected rate.

You should also be updating the testing information with the appropriate percentage of positive tests to total test performed once that data is available.
-If that were being done, people would see that from 5/04 thru 5/07, which is the most recent daily testing total available, the percentage in order was 2.9%, 4.4%, 5.0% and 4.4%. -11 of the last 13 days were below the CDC level of 12% positive for reopening businesses. -And 5-day average has been been below 12% for ten straight days.

Sensationalist headlines grab eyeballs and bring traffic, everyone who pays attention knows that. But it would be nice to have a true news organization that presents facts and data and lets the reader draw the necessary conclusions.

R.L.
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 9:32am

Obama inherited a recession. He inherited a 11.4% unemployment .he left Trump a 4.3% unemployment rate Yes he left Trump with a very very large debt/ Love to hear. from you. R.L.

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Todd
Tue, 05/26/2020 - 11:08am

It amazes me that Bridge says nothing about Dr. Birx admitting on April 4th that even if you don't die from covid that you'll be recorded as such.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:16am

Gretchen knew on March 10th but didn't act until March 24th!?!?!? how many lives could have been saved if she just shutdown the state 2 weeks earlier?

Impeach!