Last updated: Tuesday, July 14 at 5:31 p.m. This post will be continuously updated with Michigan coronavirus locations and updated COVID-19 news.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the state of emergency put in place because of the coronavirus through Aug. 11 as cases continue to rise across the state.
The emergency declaration gives Whitmer the power to enact and extend several of her coronavirus-related executive orders, including restrictions on bars, restaurants, salons, gyms, in-person gatherings and mask wearing.
As of July 14, Michigan has had 70,306 confirmed cases of coronavirus and experienced 6,081 deaths. Cases have been rising again statewide since mid-June, around two weeks after the stay-at-home order ended. Michigan has the 13th-highest number of cases of any state and the 7th-highest number of deaths, according to an analysis by the New York Times.
Whitmer’s emergency powers have been challenged in court by state Republican lawmakers. A Court of Claims judge sided with Whitmer in May, upholding her power to extend the state of emergency without legislative approval. That decision is currently being appealed. — Riley Beggin
Michigan coronavirus case count moves past 70,000
Michigan crossed 70,000 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday, with 584 new cases pushing the overall total to 70,306.
Combined with 7,558 probable cases, the state has 77,864 confirmed and probable cases.
Suburban Wayne County, the area outside of Detroit, reported 135 new cases, the most the county has reported since May 29. However, all but 54 were from May that had previoulsy been listed as possible but were reported as confirmed cases on Tuesday, a county spokesperson told Bridge. Detroit reported just 34 new cases. Kent County reported 85 new cases, Oakland reported 60 and Macomb reported 45.
The state on Tuesday also reported the largest single-day increase in hospitalizations since April, with 415 confirmed COVID-19 cases in hospitals across the state, up from 388 on Monday.
Hospitalization had fallen to a low of 315 on July 2. When the state first started reporting hospitalizations, there were over 3,600 on April 16. That number had steadily declined until the end of June.
And for the first time since May 29, just over 4 percent of daily tests came back positive, the state reported Tuesday. It had been below 4 percent, and typically 3 percent, since then. The daily positive rate had hit 40 percent at the beginning of the first wave of cases when there were fewer testing facilities available.
The state also reported six new deaths, bringing the total to 6,081.
With the surge in cases in the South and Southwest, Michigan now has the 13th most cases in the country. Into April, the state had the fourth most cases behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
In terms of cases per 1 million people, Michigan stands at just under 8,000 cases (confirmed and probable), which is below the national rate of 10,600 and 30th overall. It has had the seventh most deaths. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, July 13
Michigan recorded 384 coronavirus cases on Monday, with seven more deaths, as young adults continue to make up a larger share of new cases.
Prior to June 5, people under 40 comprised about 30 percent of all cases, but they’ve accounted for more than 55 percent of cases since case clusters emerged from house parties, bars and other gatherings of young people.
The increase caused Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to close bars, excluding the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan, on July 1.
With Monday’s reported cases, the state has experienced a nearly 30 percent increase from the previous Monday. After falling for four weeks, week-over-week case counts have risen for the last four, though they are still well below the highs seen in March and April.
Testing has remained robust for the past couple of weeks, and the percent of positive cases, which has risen sharply in states in the South and Southwest, remains just below 3 percent in Michigan.
Suburban Wayne County had the most new cases (51), followed by Oakland (50) and Macomb (43). — Mike Wilkinson
Tracker updates at a glance:
- Kingdom of Jordan donates PPE to Michigan
- 34,470 Michiganders file for unemployment, fewer than previous week
- Michigan passes 6,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths on July 7
- Details released on the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program
- Driver license registrations extended
- 2020 Woodward Dream Cruise canceled
- Michigan coronavirus dashboard: cases, deaths and maps
Sunday, July 12
Michigan reported 390 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. That’s a dip from the 600+ daily tallies over the past few days, but Sunday reporting on COVID-19 cases tends to be slower than on weekdays, perhaps explaining the dip. The seven-day average in reported cases now stands at 508.
Wayne County reported 66 new coronavirus cases and Kent County had 64. Oakland County was third with 56 cases.
The state reported one new COVID-19 death Sunday.
In total, Michigan has had 69,338 cases of coronavirus and 6,068 deaths.
Saturday, July 11
Michigan announced 654 new coronavirus cases Saturday, another high in recent months and the third time the state exceeded 600 cases in the past four days. The seven-day case average now stands at 501 — continuing the trend of rising cases in the state. This week's seven-day average for new cases is 39 percent higher than last week's average of 361.
The state also recorded six new coronavirus-related deaths Saturday, and reclassified 22 previous deaths as being related to COVID-19 during a Vital Records review, bringing the Saturday death count to a total of 28.
Kent County has the largest number of new cases Saturday, 110, followed by Oakland County (74) and Wayne (57).
Overall Michigan has seen a total of 68,948 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,067 deaths during the pandemic.
Friday, July 10
Kingdom of Jordan donates PPE to Michigan
Michigan is getting coronavirus help from the Middle East.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday that the Kingdom of Jordan donated a large amount of personal protective equipment to the state to help replenish Michigan hospitals’ stock of overalls, surgical masks and goggles.
Jordan donated 650,000 surgical masks,10,000 medical overalls and 10,000 sets of eye goggles to the state, and is soon expected to send a shipment of N95 masks.
The donation is a continuation of a long-standing business and cultural relationship with the Middle East country, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“We are proud to be able to provide this modest aid to the people of Michigan,” said Dina Kawar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Jordan to the United States, in a news release. “Jordan is a regional leader in medical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing sectors and these industries have moved swiftly to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. As His Majesty King Abdullah II remarked, these past couple of months have shown us that the best way to address this global pandemic is through enhanced cooperation and solidarity."
612 new cases reported
Michigan reported 612 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, the highest daily total in seven weeks and the second time in three days that new case counts were above 600.
The seven-day average of new daily infections jumped to 465 cases, the highest that average has been since May 24.
No new deaths were confirmed Friday, the second time confirmed deaths have been zero in a week. However, 15 deaths were reported as a result of a vital records review where previous deaths have been reclassified as related to coronavirus.
Unlike Wednesday and Thursday, Kent County did not have the largest number of new cases. Friday, the largest number of new cases were in Oakland County (83) closely followed by Wanye (71) and then Kent (69).
In addition, hospitalizations due to the virus are inching upward again, reaching 369 Friday, up from a pandemic low of 315 on July 2. Still, hospitalizations are low compared to the nearly 4,000 hospitalized daily in early April.
In total, Michigan has suffered 68,295 coronavirus cases and 6,039 deaths since the pandemic struck the state in March.
Thursday, July 9
There were 446 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday in Michigan, lowering the seven-day average to 430, the first decline since July 1.
There are nine new reported coronavirus-related deaths.
Kent County again had the most new reported cases, 107, with Oakland (79), suburban Wayne County (54) the second and third highest. Kent, the fourth most populous county, has had the most infections since July 4, with 327 new cases.
Despite generally rising case numbers in the state over the past month, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 so far this month has averaged 331, a decline from the June daily average of 409 hospitalizations.
Total confirmed cases in Michigan now stand at 67,683 since the pandemic struck the state in March, and total deaths suffered stand at 6,024.
34,470 Michiganders file for unemployment, fewer than previous week
About 1.31 million Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week ended July 4, about 99,000 fewer than the revised numbers from a week earlier, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Close to 50 million people have filed for benefits since mid-March, according to the BLS. That represents workers affected by both temporary and permanent layoffs due to coronavirus.
Among them were an estimated 34,470 Michigan residents filing initial claims last week to replace lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The previous week, according to revised filing numbers from the BLS, 38,309 state residents sought to replace lost wages for the week ending June 27. That number is more than double the total from the week ending June 20, when 18,783 people filed claims.
So far, according to BLS reports on initial filings, at least 2.17 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns and a statewide stay-at-home order in March.
Over $15 billion in benefits have been paid to more than 2 million workers in Michigan, according to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Backlogs plagued the system since mid-March, but the state said last week that 97.2 percent of potentially eligible, certifying claimants have received or are approved for benefits. Of the remaining unpaid claimants, the state says most are flagged for potential impostor fraud.
About 39,000 unpaid claims have yet to be resolved and are being held for additional identity verification. At the same time, 20,000 unpaid claims are held pending adjudication for other reasons.
Wednesday, July 8
Michigan reported 610 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, the highest one-day total since May 21, almost seven weeks ago.
The increase continues a troubling trend of rising infections in the state, with the seven-day average of daily new cases now reaching 444, the highest it has been since May 26th.
On June 13, the seven-day average was 150; the rolling average has nearly tripled in less than four weeks.
One reason for the uptick is a rapid increase in cases in Kent County, which suffered the most new infections in the state in the past seven days, with 481; that’s almost quadruple the seven-day total of new cases for the West Michigan county just four weeks ago.
While the most populous counties are still leading in new cases, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties are nowhere near their peaks of April and March when weekly case counts ran from 1,000 to over 3,000.
But for a number of counties, the recent wave has seen new infections at or near the highest levels since the pandemic began. Lenawee County had 33 infections in the past week, it’s highest ever, as did Monroe (25), Marquette (18), and Osceola (12).
Grand Traverse had 20 cases in the last seven days, just one below its seven-day peak (ending Tuesday) and Cass County along the Indiana border had 25 cases, just off the 28 cases from the seven days ending Sunday.
There were 10 coronavirus-related deaths reported Wednesday, the same amount as Tuesday, both days representing a slight increase in the number of daily deaths.
To date there have been 67,237 cases and 6,015 deaths in Michigan due to the coronavirus. The state has reported another 7,273 probable coronavirus infections and 246 probable deaths.
Tuesday, July 7
Michigan passes 6,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths
Michigan Tuesday passed 6,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus with the announcement of 30 additional people dying, the largest one-day tally of deaths since June 6. Those deaths, however, didn’t all occur in the past 24 hours. According to the state’s website, 20 newly reported deaths were identified during a vital records review, a process in which the state compares confirmed coronavirus case records with death certificates.
Michigan now has suffered 6,005 deaths to date due to COVID-19.
There were 454 new cases reported Tuesday, continuing a general rise of COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. Tuesday's added cases brings the total Michigan residents confirmed to have been infected since the pandemic hit the state to 66,627.
The seven-day average of new daily cases is now 394.
Monday, July 6
297 confirmed Michigan coronavirus cases on Monday
There were 297 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan on Monday, increasing the statewide total to 66,173. It is the 14th consecutive day in which new cases surpassed 200.
The seven-day average of daily new cases is 382, the highest the state average has been since May 31.
There were three additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 reported Monday. It is the ninth consecutive day with a daily death count in single digits. To date, there are 5,975 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Michigan.
Details released on the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration released detailed data Monday on the 4.9 million loans made under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
That includes 121,135 loans the SBA said were issued in Michigan as of June 30, with a total dollar value of nearly $16 billion. The Michigan companies receiving more than $1 million in PPP loans can be identified through this Bridge database:
An estimated 1.6 million jobs in Michigan were funded through PPP. Nationally, the program says it funded 51 million jobs.
The $660 billion in small business relief loans are part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, approved in late March.
The PPP program allows employers with a payroll of up to 500 employees to apply for low-interest private loans to pay for their payroll and costs like rent and utilities. The loan is forgivable if the business uses 60 percent of the money for payroll and either doesn’t lay off employees or it rehires them by December 31.
PPP recipients include businesses, nonprofits, religious organizations and civic groups. Disclosure: Among the Michigan businesses listed is The Center for Michigan, the nonprofit parent company for Bridge Michigan.
Of the $660 billion set aside for the PPP program, about $521 billion has been provided to U.S. employers in loans valued from under $50,000 up to $10 million. An estimated $132 billion is still available, with the remainder in progress. The deadline to apply has been extended to August 8.
Seven states had PPP distribution tied to more jobs than Michigan: California (6.5 milIion); Texas (4.5 million); Florida and New York (3.2 million); Illinois (2.2 million); Ohio (1.9 million) and Pennsylvania (1.8 million).
“The average loan size is approximately $100,000, demonstrating that the program is serving the smallest of businesses,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
The data is available through this link by downloading the file at the top right corner of the webpage.
Sunday, July 5
Zero confirmed Michigan deaths from coronavirus on Sunday
There were no confirmed deaths Sunday connected to COVID-19 in Michigan, the first day that has happened since March.
Still, confirmed cases continued the generally upward trajectory of the past few weeks, with 343 new confirmed cases Sunday and 398 Saturday. Since the pandemic struck the state, 65,876 Michigan residents have been confirmed to have contracted the potentially deadly virus.
The seven-day average for newly confirmed cases is 374, the highest the average has been since June 2. It is the thirteenth consecutive day that averages and new cases have surpassed 200.
One new outbreak, confirmed Sunday by Wayne County Public Health, involves 13 COVID-19 cases connected to the Playhouse Club, a strip club in Romulus. Of the 13 cases, 12 are employees or patrons of the club and one confirmed case was an employee of a Checkers restaurant, also in Romulus, according to the health department. Wayne County urges anyone who visited or worked at the Playhouse Club between June 17 and July 1, or worked at or patronized the Romulus Checkers between June 27 and July 4, to contact the health department at 734-727-7078.
While coronavirus cases continue to rise across Michigan, fewer residents are dying. There were three deaths reported Saturday. The zero deaths Sunday marked the first time since March 25, when Bridge started tracking coronavirus fatalities, that the state has said there were no confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Saturday, July 4
Nearly 400 new coronavirus cases in Michigan
Michigan saw its coronavirus case count rise nearly 400 on Saturday, pushing its seven-day average — now 361 — to its highest level in over a month.
And with the reporting of the first confirmed case in Ontanogon County in the Upper Peninsula, every county in the state has now had a confirmed COVID-19 case.
The new cases brings the total confirmed cases to 65,533; with 7,048 probable cases. There were three additional deaths reported, bringing the total to 5,972. There are another 246 probable COVID-19 deaths.
As they have for the last couple of days, Kent County and suburban Wayne County reported the most new cases, 63 and 50 respectively. Oakland County reported 47 and Detroit reported 16. Over the last week, Kent has had the highest average daily case count, with 53, higher than Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and Detroit, all more populous.
There were 22 new cases in rural Oceana County, the third stratight day of double-digit increases there where there have been only 331 cases total. The spikes there have been tied to farms and manufacturing facitilies, according to mLive.com.
Friday, July 3
Michigan records 460 new cases, 3 deaths
There were 460 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Michigan announced Friday — the second-highest number of new cases since June 1. It follows Thursday, when 543 new cases were announced, raising the two-day total above 1,000.
There are now 65,135 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan.
The seven-day average of new confirmed cases continues to rise, and is now at 349. Since June 23, seven-day averages have all surpassed 200, and it is the fourth day in a row with averages over 300.
There were three additional deaths attributed to the coronavirus on Friday, the sixth day in a row with death counts in single digits. To date, there are 5,969 total deaths.
Some counties that saw the highest one-day increases in confirmed cases include Kent County (90), Oakland County (51) and Wayne County (42).
Thursday, July 2
Michigan records 543 new cases
There were 543 new confirmed cases of coronavirus Thursday, the highest number of new cases since May 29.
The seven-day average is at 338, the highest average since June 3. Two new deaths were attributed to the coronavirus, and 13 previous deaths were identified as COVID-related.
To date, there are 64,675 confirmed cases and 5,966 deaths attributed to the COVID-19 in Michigan.
The biggest confirmed one-day increases were seen in Kent County, which reported 107 more cases on Thursday, suburban Wayne County (76 cases), Oakland County (58 cases) and 40 cases in Detroit.
In Kent County, the tally was triple the average daily case count over the previous week and it was double the seven-day average in Oakland and Wayne counties, including Detroit.
The increase corresponds with an uptick in the percent of diagnostic virus tests that turned up positive. Although the rate for Wednesday, the most recent day of testing, was 3.1 percent, well below what epidemiolgists consider essential to track the spread of the virus, it was well the 2.4 percent average since June 5, the last day it was above 3 percent.
The surge in cases follows an outbreak of coronavirus in those who were at Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub after its reopening, now standing at over 150 cases. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer responded to the outbreak linked to indoor bars and restaurants in an announcement Wednesday, when she ordered the shutdown of indoor service at bars in most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. — Sophia Yoon
Wednesday, July 1
Case count climbs 262
On Wednesday, Michigan reported 262 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan, the ninth consecutive day with cases that surpassed 200.
The seven-day average is at 311, the first decrease in averages since June 21.
There were four deaths reported Wednesday. To date, there are 64,132 confirmed cases and 5,951 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.
Driver license registrations extended
Michigan residents with driver licenses or vehicle registrations that expired from March 1 to June 30 now have until Sept 30 to have them renewed, thanks to Senate Bills 876, 877 and 878 that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Wednesday.
The bills reinstate Whitmer’s previous executive orders, extending the renewal dates for certain licenses, state identification cards or enhanced driver licenses or state identification cards that would have expired. All of the bills were sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R- Traverse City, and give residents more time because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These bills will give Michigan residents peace of mind and reduce the amount of person-to-person interaction necessary when renewing licenses and registrations,” said Whitmer in a news release.
Automobile, motorcycle and watercraft registration renewals also can be completed at one of the 122 self-service stations statewide.
Residents needing to schedule an appointment can do so online at Michigan.gov/SOS or by calling 888-SOS-MICH. Advance appointments can be made up to 180 days ahead of time. Same-day appointments become available 24 hours prior to the appointment time. — Sophia Yoon
Tuesday, June 30
Michigan reported 373 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday, increasing the state total to 63,870. It is the eighth straight day that new cases have surpassed 200.
The seven-day average is 320, the highest since June 3. The seven-day averages have been on an upward trend since June 21.
Michigan also reported 32 deaths attributed to the coronavirus — the second highest for June. To date, the state has 5,947 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. — Sophia Yoon.
Monday, June 29
Michigan reported 236 cases of coronavirus on Monday, and four confirmed deaths. This is the seventh day in a row that new cases have surpassed 200.
The seven-day average is at 298, the highest the rolling average has been since June 4.
To date, there are 63,497 confirmed cases and 5,915 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Michigan. — Sophia Yoon
Woodward Dream Cruise canceled
Local officials are hitting the brakes on the Woodward Dream Cruise, the classic car show and parade that is a staple of summer in metro Detroit.
It's the latest on a lengthy list of summer events cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Fox 2 reports municipal leaders from cities that line the cruise route voted Monday morning to suspend this year’s event, which had been scheduled for Aug. 15.
Organizers had already cancelled all related "community events" in an attempt to try to limit large crowds but had not decided the fate of the Dream Cruise itself.
While the official event is off, some cruisers will no doubt rev up their engines anyway and parade their classic cars down Woodward Avenue next month — Jonathan Oosting
Sunday, June 28
New confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 252 Sunday, and there were four additional deaths attributed to the virus.
The seven-day average is 290, the fifth-highest average in June. In total, there are 63,261 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan and 5,911 deaths. — Sophia Yoon
Saturday, June 27
Michigan reported 314 new coronavirus cases Saturday, increasing the statewide total to 63,009.
The seven-day average is 275, continuing the state’s upward trend in averages that began on June 21. Also Saturday, 19 deaths were attributed to COVID-19. To date, the state has 5,907 total deaths. — Sophia Yoon
Friday, June 26
Michigan continued to see a rise in daily confirmed coronavirus cases Friday, with 389 new cases. This is the fourth day in a row with cases over 200, and the third day in a row setting a new high for June.
The seven-day average is at 267, the highest the average has been since June 5.
There were two deaths attributed to COVID-19, the tenth time in June that deaths have been in single digits.
To date, there are 62,695 confirmed cases and 5,889 deaths from coronavirus in Michigan.
Whitmer extends suspension of evictions through July 15
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the temporary suspension of Michigan evictions until July 15 and created an Eviction Diversion Program for renters seeking fast rental assistance or a more manageable payment plan.
The extension, announced Friday, comes near the end of Whitmer’s previous extension which was set to end June 30. Rental assistance under the Eviction Diversion Program will be available beginning July 16.
“No Michigander should have to worry about losing their home during a global health pandemic and, at the same time, landlords and management companies need rent from their tenants to sustain their businesses,” Whitmer said in a news release.
Beginning July 16, $50 million in rental assistance will be available in lump sum payments to landlords in exchange for allowing tenants to remain in their homes, forgiving late fees and up to 10 percent of rent due. Those whose rent is not fully covered by the Eviction Diversion Program will be eligible for manageable payment plans.
The Eviction Diversion Program is part of Senate Bill 690, which passed unanimously in the Michigan House and Senate June 17. As part of the plan, $60 million in Coronavirus Relief Funding will be directed toward the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to create a rental assistance program for tenants and landlords after the eviction suspension ends.
June 25, 2020
Cases tick upward, set a June record with 353
New confirmed coronavirus cases set another new high for June on Thursday, with 353 new cases. This is the third day in a row that new cases have been over 200.
The seven-day average continues to rise and is now at 241. This is the highest the seven-day average has been since June 6.
There were 19 additional deaths attributed to the coronavirus. To date, there are 62,306 confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan and 5,887 total deaths.
At least 43 recent cases have been traced to patrons of Harper’s restaurant and bar in East Lansing, near the campus of Michigan State University.
After U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney ordered the reopening of gyms for Thursday, a panel of three federal judges sided with Gov. Whitmer and reversed the order just hours before reopening.
Fewer seek unemployment benefits
About 1.48 million Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week ended June 13, about 60,000 fewer than the revised numbers from a week earlier, according to numbers released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At least 47.5 million people have filed for benefits since mid-March, according to the BLS. That represents workers affected by both temporary and permanent layoffs due to coronavirus.
Among them were an estimated 18,783 Michigan residents filing initial claims to replace lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan’s numbers show a decline: The previous week, according to revised filing numbers from the BLS, 21,293 state residents sought to replace lost wages.
So far, according to BLS reports on initial filings, at least 2.04 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns and a statewide stay-at-home order in March.
However, the state’s data show a higher number of unemployment filings as it combats what is described as a wave of potential identity fraud within its system. It froze accounts in May after a national warning about organized attempts to file false claims.
Of the 340,000 active accounts the state had initially flagged, 220,000 have been “cleared” of wrongdoing and restored, spokesperson Jason Moon said this week. The state has also cleared about 110,000 new claimants but continues to hold payments on another 90,474 accounts.
Wednesday, June 24
Confirmed cases set a high for June
New confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by 323 on Wednesday. This is a record high for June, and the second time this month that new cases have been over 300. Total confirmed cases are now at 61,953.
The seven-day average, now at 223, surpassed 200 for the second day in a row.
There were four confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19, increasing total deaths to 5,868.
Coronavirus cases rise among young adults at E. Lansing bar
Hoping to contain a COVID-19 outbreak traced to a popular East Lansing bar, Ingham County health officials are now asking customers to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Confirmed cases have risen to 25, although none of the infected were seriously ill and four were asymptomatic after visiting Harper's Restaurant & Brewpub, according to the Ingham County Health Department. The patrons who tested positive are 18 to 23 years old.
Still, the number of cases make the outbreak “a higher risk exposure than a typical visit to a restaurant or bar,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail.
Health inspectors found Harper’s following safety procedures “related to employees, restaurant capacity and table spacing,” the department reported.
Patrons are asked to quarantine for 14 days following the day of their visit. During that time, they are asked to stay home, watch for symptoms, and distance themselves from other household contacts like family and roommates.
The department also is urging patrons to be tested. However, even those who receive a negative test result should self-quarantine because of the possibility of false negatives, officials said.
Essential workers may be exempted from self-quarantine by their employers if the employer has adopted “strict protocols” to prevent the spread of the virus, according to a news release. — Robin Erb
Tuesday, June 23
Coronavirus cases rise by 221
On Tuesday, new confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by 221, increasing total confirmed cases in Michigan to 61,630.
Cases have been following an upward trend, causing the seven-day average to increase to 206. This is the first time the seven-day average has surpassed 200 since June 8.
There were 11 new deaths attributed to COVID-19, raising the total to 5,864.
Michigan Legislature agrees to punt July 1 budget deadline to 2021
The Michigan Legislature unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would delay implementation of a July 1 budget deadline until 2021 due to financial challenges posed by the coronavirus.
Lawmakers agreed to pass a law in 2019 requiring they send a budget to the governor by July 1 after a protracted budget debate between the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature pushed the budget signing to the last minute.
But now the state is facing a massive budget crunch as tax collections fall and welfare spending rises due to the coronavirus. Budget officials estimated in May that there will be an estimated $3.2 billion shortfall in revenue this fiscal year and another $3 billion loss next year.
Lawmakers and the governor have repeatedly asked the federal government to pass legislation that would either appropriate more aid that states could use at their discretion or change the rules on existing federal money states received through the CARES Act to allow for more flexible spending. Currently, the funding can only be used for new costs related to COVID-19, not to backfill budget shortfalls.
U-M pulls out of hosting presidential debate
The University of Michigan will no longer host the Oct. 15 presidential debate on its Ann Arbor campus, citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
U-M president Mark Schlissel said in a statement released Tuesday morning that the debate was “a tremendous opportunity” for the university but “given the scale and complexity of the work we are undertaking to help assure a safe and healthy fall for our students, faculty and staff and limited visitors — and in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned.”
The debate will now be held at a performing arts center in Miami. The other two presidential debates are Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, while a vice presidential debate will be held Oct. 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Monday, June 22
179 new confirmed cases; 7 new deaths
There were 179 new confirmed coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 61,409 confirmed cases in Michigan.
The seven-day average for confirmed cases rose to 192, the highest it’s been since June 9.
Seven confirmed deaths were attributed to COVID-19, the eighth time this month that daily deaths were in the single digits. The total confirmed deaths since March is now at 5,853.
Judge: Michigan gyms to open June 25 despite Whitmer appeal
Michigan gyms can still open on Thursday, after a federal judge declined Monday to halt his order while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeals the case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Whitmer asked U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney to stay his Friday decision to allow fitness centers to reopen. He refused, writing that Whitmer failed to prove she has a substantial likelihood of prevailing on appeal or that the public would be irreparably harmed in the meantime.
The court “sought only some rational basis for the continued closure of indoor gyms while other similar businesses may open,” but Whitmer couldn’t provide that, Maloney wrote in the decision.
Sunday, June 21
146 new confirmed cases; 3 new deaths
On Sunday, there were three new confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 in Michigan, and 146 new confirmed cases.
There are now a total of 61,230 recorded cases in the state, and 5,846 deaths.
Sunday marked the sixth day in June in which confirmed deaths from the new coronavirus were in single digits.
Saturday, June 20
Saturday 255 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 20 new deaths were announced in Michigan. In the past week, 74 new deaths were announced, less than any week since March.
Saturday marked the second straight day with more than 200 confirmed cases, creating a small rise in the seven-day average. On Saturday, the seven-day average is 183, 10 cases higher than the seven-day average from Friday.
To date the state has recorded 61,084 confirmed infections and 5,843 deaths.
Friday, June 19
Five more Michigan residents have succumbed to COVID-19, the state announced Friday. It is the fourth time this week that the new death count was in single digits, after routinely being in triple digits in April.
In addition, new infections were down. There were 211 new confirmed cases, down from 255 Thursday. The seven-day rolling average for new cases stands at 173.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 60,829 cases and 5,823 deaths in Michigan.
Thursday, June 18
Confirmed cases tick upward
Coronavirus cases are ticking upward. There were 255 new confirmed infections on Thursday. This makes the fourth day in a row that the daily tally of confirmed cases has increased. The added cases raise the total infections since the pandemic reached Michigan to 60,618.
With 26 confirmed deaths, Thursday also marks the highest daily death count so far this week. There are 5,818 total confirmed deaths to date in the state.
Despite these increases, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients continued to decrease Thursday, with 322 patients, six fewer than Wednesday.
State of emergency extended; gyms on pace to reopen sooner
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday extended Michigan's "state of emergency" through July 16, a move that gives her continued authority to issue and enforce executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Whitmer has relaxed many of her initial orders in recent weeks and allowed many shuttered businesses to reopen with additional safety protocols.
In her new emergency declaration, the governor reiterated she hopes to allow theaters, gyms and bowling alleys to reopen by July 4 if COVID-19 case counts continue.
But, she warned in the declaration, “this global pandemic is far from over” and “statewide coordination of these efforts is crucial to creating a stable path to recovery.” — Jonathan Oosting
Fewer Michigan residents seek unemployment
About 1.5 million Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week ended June 13, about 58,000 fewer than the revised numbers from a week earlier, according to numbers released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At least 46 million people have filed for benefits since mid-March, according to the BLS. That represents workers affected by both temporary and permanent layoffs due to coronavirus.
Among them were an estimated 19,552 Michigan residents filing initial claims to replace lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan’s numbers show a decline: The previous week, according to revised filing numbers from the BLS, 28,504 state residents sought to replace lost wages.
However, Michigan is the only state in the U.S. to use state estimates in reporting of the initial jobless claims. The state has frozen accounts of 540,000 claims as it conducts an identity fraud investigation.
So far, according to BLS reports on initial filings, at least 1.86 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns and a statewide stay-at-home order in March.
However, the state’s data show a higher number of unemployment filings. According to the Unemployment Insurance Agency, 2.2 million Michigan residents have been unemployed — either on temporary furlough, temporary layoff or permanent layoff — as of early June. That number represents 45 percent of Michigan workers. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, June 17
Michigan reports 204 new COVID-19 infections
Two more COVID-19 deaths were reported in Michigan on Wednesday, marking the fifth day in June with confirmed deaths in the single digits, and the fourth time in the seven days.
In addition, the number of hospital inpatients in Michigan continues to fall. There are 338 currently hospitalized with coronavirus, the lowest total since early April.
Despite low confirmed deaths and hospitalizations, the number of new confirmed cases rose from Tuesday, with 204 new infections. Since the pandemic struck Michigan, there have been a total of 60,323 cases of COVID-19 and 5,792 deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new cases increased to 159, from 155 on Tuesday.
Michigan will remain in 'state of emergency,' Whitmer says
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to extend Michigan's state of emergency, likely through at least July, despite a continued drop in new COVID-19 cases and deaths, she said Wednesday.
The emergency status, which would otherwise expire Saturday, allows Whitmer to continue issuing and enforcing executive orders related to the pandemic.
The governor has already relaxed some of her initial orders, lifting resident travel restrictions and allowing business across the state to reopen so long as they abide by new safety protocols.
Whitmer issued an order last week that extended a moratorium on rental unit evictions through June 30 and on Monday revised public health rules for nursing homes.
"Being in this state [of emergency] is what gives us the ability to continue to protect people," Whitmer told reporters a Wednesday morning press briefing.
"All 50 states are in some form or another of state of emergency because of that precise issue, and we'll have to be as well."
Leaders in Michigan's Republican-led Legislature contend Whitmer exceeded her authority by extending the state of emergency without their approval on April 30. They sued last month in an attempt to block the governor's unilateral declarations.
Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled in Whitmer's favor on May 21, but lawmakers are appealing that decision.
Tuesday, June 16
Cases at 60,189 as deaths reach 5,790
There were 18 additional COVID-19 deaths in Michigan reported Tuesday. This is an increase from Monday, when two new deaths were reported. Cases also increased slightly, from 74 new cases on Monday to 125 recorded on Tuesday.
Despite this increase, a downward trend in average cases continues. The seven-day average of new cases today is 155, much less than that of a week ago, when 197 cases were recorded on June 9.
Overall there have been 60,189 cases and 5,790 deaths to date in the state.
Monday, June 13
Confirmed cases at lowest level since March
There were two new confirmed coronavirus deaths reported Monday in Michigan, continuing a welcome downward trend from daily death counts that, until recently, routinely were in triple digits.
New cases remain low as well, with only 74 additional confirmed COVID-19 infections. That’s the lowest tally since at least March 25.
This is the fourth time in June that confirmed deaths were in the single digits; it immediately follows the third which occurred Sunday.
As of Monday, there have been 60,064 confirmed cases in Michigan since the outbreak struck the state March 10, and 5,772 deaths. The seven-day average for new cases is 152.
Nursing homes account for a third of COVID deaths
State health officials reported Monday that nearly 2,000 of the state’s nearly 5,800 COVID-19 deaths occurred among nursing home residents or staff.
It is the first report yet by the state that quantifies the scale of the hardship faced in the state’s 450 nursing homes, with more than 10,000 confirmed cases among residents and state. Of those, nearly 7,200 were residents and 3,100 were staff.
But residents were far more likely to die along with 20 staff members. That total, 1,967, is 34 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.
In some counties, the nursing home numbers amount for the majority of all cases. In Alpena County, for instance, 91 of the county’s total of 104 cases were at Medilodge Alpena nursing home, and nine of the county’s 11 deaths were residents at the facility.
— Mike Wilkinson
Sunday, June 14
3 new confirmed deaths reported on Sunday
Only three new coronavirus deaths were recorded in Michigan on Sunday, with 189 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19. That's three days in a row with fewer than 200 confirmed cases, though counts by the state tend to be lower over the weekend.
The handful of deaths marked the third time in June that confirmed deaths were in the single digits.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan now stands at 59,900 and total deaths at 5,770.
The slight increase in new confirmed cases increased the seven-day average to 160.
Saturday, June 13
Cases, deaths rise slightly but downward trends remain
Michigan recorded 180 new confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday, up from an average of 150 during the past week, and with 22 confirmed deaths, up from the average of 16 during the week.
But the small increases did not alter the overall trend toward fewer infections and deaths that has been steady for over two months.
And the good news includes good testing numbers, with just over 2 percent of more than 13,300 people testing positive for the coronavirus and far fewer COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, now below 400 statewide. As recently as May 20, over 1,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized.
Friday, June 12
New confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan rose by 125 on Friday, falling below 200 new cases like earlier in the week. Michigan’s total confirmed cases are now at 59,621.
The seven-day average is 157, the lowest it’s been since late March.
There were eight confirmed deaths, the second time in June that confirmed deaths have dropped to single-digits. Overall, there are now 5,745 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.
National Guard to hold testing at 8 new sites
The Michigan National Guard will hold free COVID-19 testing at eight new sites across the state this weekend.
These drive-thru sites will be open on June 13 and 14 in Branch, Chippewa, Gratiot, Marquette, Muskegon, Newago, Schoolcraft and Wayne counties. In Muskegon County, the site will be operational Friday evening and Saturday, and the site in Gratiot County will be open only on Saturday.
“Testing is a critical measure to mitigate risk as Michiganders get back to work,” Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs said in an email press release. “We are working hard alongside our state partners to make it safe and easy to get tested.”
As many parts of Michigan gradually reopen, accessible testing will be a key tool to continuously monitoring the situation and spread of infection. In Michigan, new confirmed cases have generally been following a downward trend since the peak in April. But some states, like Florida, have seen spiking, and record high numbers in new cases since reopening.
“Widespread testing is still the most crucial tool we have in protecting Michiganders from COVID-19 and lowering the chance of a second wave,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a press release. “I am grateful for the skilled professionals of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan National Guard who continue to provide exceptional service to Michiganders when we need them most.”
Here are the new testing sites in each county:
Branch County Fairgrounds
262 S. Sprague St., Coldwater
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: noon – 4 p.m.
Sault Area High School
904 Marquette Ave., Sault Ste. Marie
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: noon – 4 p.m.
Alma Middle School
1700 Pine Ave., Alma
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Berry Events Center, Northern Michigan University
400 W. Fair Ave., Marquette
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Oak Ridge Middle School
251 S. Wolf Lake Rd., Muskegon
Friday: 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Newago County Admin & Health Department
1087 Newell St. , White Cloud
Saturday& Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Schoolcraft County Road Commission
332 East Rd., Manistique
Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Ecorse High School
27225 W. Outer Dr., Ecorse
Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Eviction moratorium extended until June 30
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday extended a moratorium on residential evictions until June 30, citing ongoing financial pressures from the coronavirus pandemic.
Whitmer's executive order came hours before the moratorium, which was set on March 20, was to expire.
“These orders will ensure that we can continue to flatten the curve, avoid a second wave of infection, and protect the heroes serving on the front lines of this crisis," Whitmer said in a statement.
About 17,000 evictions are filed each month in Michigan courts, and court administrators and activists expect a surge in cases once the moratorium expires. Whitmer's order does not exempt tenants from paying rent during the moratorium.
Thursday, June 11
After five days with fewer than 200 new confirmed coronavirus infections, Michigan health officials reported 218 new cases on Thursday, with Detroit’s suburban Wayne County reporting the most, 38.
The overall trend on cases is still positive, with a seven-day average still at its lowest level since the early days of the pandemic and just 2.5 percent of nearly 15,500 tests coming back with positive results.
Overall, there were 26 additional deaths reported, bringing the total to 5,737, the fifth most in the nation. There are 59,496 confirmed cases, making Michigan 10th in cases; it’s 10th in population as well.
The state has reported an additional 247 “probable” COVID-19 deaths and another 5,953 probable infections. — Mike Wilkinson
45 percent of Michigan workforce affected by unemployment
About 1.5 million Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week ended June 6, a decline of about 19 percent from the previous week, according to numbers released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Among them were 28,504 Michigan residents filing initial claims to replace lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan’s numbers show a decline: The previous week, according to revised filing numbers from the BLS, 39,290 state residents sought to replace lost wages.
So far, according to BLS reports on initial filings, at least 1.84 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns and a statewide stay-at-home order in March.
However, the state’s data show a higher number of unemployment filings. According to the Unemployment Insurance Agency, 2.2 million Michigan residents have been unemployed — either on temporary furlough, temporary layoff or permanent layoff — as of the end of last week. That number represents 45 percent of Michigan workers.
- Michigan freezes 340K unemployment accounts amid fraud probe and pandemic
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The difference in the numbers, according to the Unemployment Insurance Agency, is that the state’s total includes applicants eligible under the federal CARES Act but not for state benefits.
The decline in Michigan’s numbers comes as the state makes public an investigation into identity fraud within its system. It announced on Friday that it had frozen the accounts of 340,000 claims while it seeks to prove their legitimacy.
But that action is generating outrage from the people affected, many of whom already had to wait while the overburdened system approved their initial claim. The state, which already hired additional staff to process the unprecedented wave of applicants, now will be devoting 1,000 workers to processing the steps required to prove identities.
It’s unclear how long it will take for the state to confirm the 340,000 claims. Also unreleased to the public is whether any fraud has been determined so far or whether any of those cases had reasons for the “stop payment” flagging on the accounts. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, June 10
Coronavirus cases in Michigan rose by 171 Wednesday, the fourth straight day of fewer than 200 new confirmed cases. Michigan now has 59,278 confirmed cases.
Deaths attributed to coronavirus rose by 13, increasing the statewide toll to 5,711.
The seven-day average is 178 new cases, the second day in a row with averages under 200.
More than 30 counties in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula entered Phase 5 of the state’s economic reopening plan Wednesday, allowing movie theaters, fitness centers and salons to reopen. Capacity limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings were also expanded. — Sophia Yoon
Tuesday, June 9
New confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan rose by 108 Tuesday, the third day in a row of fewer than 200 cases. Total confirmed cases since the pandemic struck Michigan now stands at 59,107.
Deaths attributed to coronavirus rose by 25, increasing the statewide cumulative deaths to 5,698.
The decrease in new confirmed cases lowered the seven-day average to 197, the lowest seven-day average since late March. — Sophia Yoon
Monday, June 8
Judge rules Whitmer overstepped authority with business penalties
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer overstepped her authority by subjecting businesses to potential felony penalties for violating workplace safety rules designed to slow the coronavirus, a state judge ruled late last week.
As she began to allow closed business to reopen, Whitmer in a May 22 order first required owners to follow strict protocols for social distancing, personal protection equipment and more. Failure to do so, she said, would be considered a violation of the MIchigan Occupational Safety and Health Act, punishable by fines of up to $70,000 and up to three years in prison.
But two separate laws giving the governor emergency authority both state that violations of resulting orders should be considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray ruled last Thursday.
“The incorporation of MIOSHA’s felony charges and increased fines for a violation of the executive order was plainly outside the Governor’s authority” under the emergency laws, Murray wrote. “Any penalties or fines beyond those for misdemeanors that are incorporated into the executive order are void."
The order, which Whitmer could appeal, resolves just one aspect of a larger lawsuit brought by the Association Builders and Contractors of Michigan and DJ's Landscape Management of Grand Rapids.
Murray, who was appointed to the bench by Republican former Gov. John Engler, sided with Whitmer in a previous case over her COVID-19 orders, calling them “necessary” as he rejected a business-based lawsuit seeking to block them. — Jonathan Oosting
New cases increase by 129
The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases rose by just 129 on Monday, the second day in a row of fewer than 200 cases and the third day below that threshold since mid-March.
The increase raises the statewide total to 58,999. Deaths rose 17 to 5,673.
With the low total of daily deaths, the seven-day average remained at 210, also the lowest since March.
In recent days, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has slowly reopened parts of the state, much of which had been restricted under her stay-at-home orders since March 24.
Sunday, June 7
Four deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in reporting Sunday, the lowest number in Michigan since March 20, four days before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the first stay-at-home order..
State health officials also reported that just 2.4 percent of all coronavirus tests came back positive, the lowest level ever reported.
The state reported 121 new virus cases, bringing the total to 58,870. Deaths rose to 5,656.
Kent County had 19 new cases, the most in the state but far below what it had seen as recently as two weeks ago. Detroit had 16 cases, suburban Wayne County had 15 and Saginaw County had 10. No other county had more than 8 new cases
Saturday, June 6
The number of coronavirus infections rose by 224 on Saturday and the seven-day average continues to fall to the lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic.
Deaths rose 36 to 5,652. That is the largest single-day jump since May 27, excluding days when the state added deaths after reviewing death certificates.
Testing numbers continued to trend positive, with 3.2 percent of nearly 13,000 tests on June 4 coming back positive.
The numbers also show that very few new cases (23) have emerged in the 32 county northern Michigan area since business restrictions in those areas were relaxed just prior to Memorial Day
Friday, June 5
Michigan has changed the way it calculates COVID-19 deaths, boosting the total by 4 percent or 240 deaths to more than 5,800 as of Friday, new reports show.
The inclusion of “probable” COVID-related deaths reflect cases in which the virus is strongly considered as the cause of death, but victims didn’t test positive for the virus.
In addition to deaths, the state said there were nearly 5,000 more “probable” cases as well, an 8.5 percent increase over the confirmed cases of 58,241.
The state, however, is reporting the numbers separately and not combining them.
Michigan added 206 more cases and 25 deaths on Thursday
The steady decline in new coronavirus cases and deaths continued Thursday with the state reporting 206 new cases and 25 deaths, 13 of which were after a review of earlier deaths.
Overall, Michigan has had 58,241 coronavirus cases and 5,595 deaths.
The state is now fifth overall in deaths and ninth in cases, with Illinois passing Michigan in deaths in recent days and Florida in cases.
Michigan is the 10th most populous state but had been among the top four in deaths for much of the past two months.
Michigan is averaging nearly 18,000 tests a day over the last week.
If sustained for a month, that would push the state over 500,000 in a month; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has wanted to get to 450,000 tests a month to ensure any new outbreaks are identified.
Unemployment rises 41,000 in Michigan
Nearly 1.9 million Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week ending May 30. Among them were 41,035 Michigan residents seeking to replace lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both nationally and within the state, the number of claims declined from the previous week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
More than 23 million Americans have experienced job instability since mid-March.
In Michigan, 1.8 million residents have filed for jobless benefits since the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns and a statewide stay-at-home order.
As of the week ending May 30, new unemployment claims in Michigan were down from 64,574 a week earlier, a decline of 23,539. A week earlier, the state saw an increase of 999 seeking benefits.
Looking ahead, by the end of June, Michigan is expected to lose 23.5 percent of payroll jobs, according to University of Michigan economists. Total jobs are projected to fall from 4,450,000 jobs in the first quarter to 3,402,000 in the second quarter.
For comparison, Michigan’s payroll employment fell by 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009, its worst quarterly performance in the Great Recession, according to statewide data in The Economic Outlook for Washtenaw County, published last week.
Recovery will come slowly, they said, as the state reopens to most business sectors.
“We are forecasting the state to recover 653,000 jobs in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, a bit over 60 percent of the job losses in the second quarter,” according to the report.
Job gains will continue in 2021 and 2022, according to the report, but “we are forecasting Michigan’s payroll job count to remain lower at the end of 2022 than its level in the first quarter of this year.”
Wednesday, June 3
Confirmed cases exceed 58,000 as deaths surpass 5,500
Michigan now has more than 58,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has surpassed 5,500 deaths.
The state recorded 304 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, and 17 deaths.
Macomb County, a suburban area in metro Detroit, added 49 cases while Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, logged 38 new cases, and Genesee County, home to Flint, added 28. Metro Detroit and Kent County have been hardest hit by COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with Kent County adding 361 new cases in the last seven days.
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.
As of May 29, 38,099 patients have “recovered” from the coronavirus.
- Michigan’s definition of coronavirus ‘recovery’ looser than other states
- In Michigan, 23K are ‘recovered’ from COVID. Many still feel like hell.
On June 1, the last date for which data are available, 14,619 COVID-19 tests administered and 2.7 percent were positive.
For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard.
Michigan coronavirus resources:
- Michigan families can get food, cash, internet during coronavirus crisis
- Michigan coronavirus Q&A: Reader questions answered
- Here’s a map of where Michigan kids can get meals during school closure
- 10 ways to help Michigan hospital workers during coronavirus pandemic
- How to give blood in Michigan during the coronavirus crisis
Tuesday, June 2
State confirms 199 new cases as 'positive' cases hit a low
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.
Iron County recorded its first confirmed coronavirus cases, leaving just three Upper Peninsula counties (Ontonogon, Alger and Keewenaw) without a case.
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. — Monica Williams
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. —Monica Williams
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
- Coronavirus surges in Grand Rapids area, bucking trends in rest of Michigan
- Coronavirus cases rising again in Michigan. That may not be bad news.
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 2,227. The 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
"COVID-19 doesn't respect state lines, it doesn't respect party lines and we're all in this together."— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 17, 2020
Michigan @GovWhitmer speaks with @GStephanopoulos on the coronavirus crisis as Michigan faces soaring unemployment and shutdown backlash. https://t.co/dVjoD0M0MG pic.twitter.com/cj0YkWzsXN
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.
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.
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.