Michigan needs big boost in coronavirus testing to reopen economy

swab

Broad testing for the new coronavirus in Michigan can offer crucial information to how and when to reopen the state, but supply chain issues continue to hamper efforts. (Shutterstock image)

Michigan plans to begin reopening its economy in 10 days. To do so safely, public health experts agree widespread testing for the coronavirus is key. 

But with chronic shortages of testing supplies, and no solutions on the near horizon, the state is not close to meeting testing benchmarks experts have set, making it difficult to predict which parts of the economy can safely reopen, and when. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cited a testing supply shortage in a slew of television appearances and press gatherings in recent days. On Monday, metro Detroit hospital and other health officials said much the same in interviews with Bridge Magazine. 

    Michigan Health Watch is made possible by generous financial support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Michigan Association of Health Plans, and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. The monthly mental health special report is made possible by generous financial support of the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation. Please visit the Michigan Health Watch 'About' page for more information.

    Without sustained improvement in the test supply chain and lab results, Michigan faces significant roadblocks to loosening its economic lockdown. 

    Under more generous criteria announced by the White House in a phased plan last week, Michigan still must satisfy threshold criteria for testing (and in areas such as hospital capacity and illnesses in the community). 

    For testing, the federal guidelines require one of two conditions be met: 

    • That the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases decline over a 14-day period, or
    • The percentage of people who test positive must fall for 14 days — provided the number of tests given remains flat or increases over that period  

    Michigan, which had administered nearly 114,000 coronavirus diagnostic tests as of Sunday, has yet to meet either measure.  

    Daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus have mostly fallen over the past two weeks, but not consistently. And while the percentage of people who test positive has mostly dropped, the number of tests administered have dropped at times, too, according to state data. 

    Public health organizations and researchers set their own yardsticks for what level of testing is sufficient. 

    The World Health Organization contends that for a government to reopen, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 should be between 3 percent and 12 percent. 

    Michigan is not close. 

    Over the past two weeks on average, nearly 30 percent of Michiganders tested received positive results, MDHHS data show. For three days now, the proportion of tests with positive results has dropped below 21 percent. Nationally, about 19 percent of coronavirus tests are positive, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

    A high percentage of positive tests suggests not enough people are being tested. Michigan is a good example of that. In the initial weeks of the pandemic, Michigan followed strict guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, limiting testing to people with serious symptoms because there were not enough tests to go around. 

    That meant those with mild symptoms or none at all were rarely tested. As more people are tested, especially those who have mild or no symptoms, this figure should fall.  

    A team of researchers at Harvard recently announced its own testing measure. 

    The Harvard team said the United States needs to triple its level of testing to 152 tests per 100,000 people by May 15 to safely reopen the country. Currently in Michigan, testing levels are at 45 per 100,000, based on a seven-day rolling average. 

    “We have a long way to go before vaccines are available, and we need to keep this transmission of COVID-19 in check or we’ll be back to where we were,” said Dr. Joseph Eisenberg, chair of the epidemiology department at the University of Michigan. 

    He, too, said Michigan needs a sustained, downward slope of cases and deaths. As social distancing rules relax, adequate levels of testing will help policymakers identify who can return to the workplace and with longer-term pandemic surveillance.

     

    Cracks in the supply chain 

    While state and local governments and health providers in Michigan have significantly ramped up testing, they say they have been repeatedly frustrated by supply chain problems as the state loosened guidelines for who can be tested.

    On April 14, Michigan announced that people with mild symptoms were eligible for testing. On Monday, it relaxed the guidelines once more; making essential workers eligible whether sick or not. The state is also partnering with Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid to open eight new drive-thru test sites across the state.

    “We know, according to all of the epidemiologists and scientists… that robust testing is essential to have confidence about our strategies for safely reducing risk and re-engaging sectors of our economy,” Whitmer said.

    The state also has posted more information about testing sites and is tracking other sites as they come online.

     

    Detroit also broadened testing criteria, announcing Monday that essential workers will no longer need prescriptions for testing at the drive-thru station at the State Fairgrounds.

    Still, Michigan continues to trail many states in the number of tests it has been able to administer, averaging 4,524 tests a day over the past week. 

    Whitmer is one of several governors from both political parties laying the blame on a national shortage of testing supplies. 

    “The reagents and the swabs are absolutely essential,” Whitmer said on NBC Sunday. “You 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.”

    The state has the capacity to more than double its daily testing — to 11,300 tests a day — through a network of 30 hospitals and commercial labs, said Lynn Sutfin, MDHHS spokeswoman. 

    But even if the state reaches that level, it would not be enough. Even at full state capacity, that would only get MIchigan to about 114 tests per 100,000, far short of the 152-per-100,000 set by Harvard.  

    “We are still in need of swabs and transport media, particularly in Southeast Michigan,” Sutfin said. “In addition, testing kits are also needed by hospital labs.” 

    Two major hospital systems echoed that complaint. 

    Beaumont Health and Henry Ford Health System — among the first to announce they would begin hospital-based testing — are performing at just a fraction of their lab capacity, spokesmen told Bridge Monday.

    Beaumont has been able to conduct just over 10 percent of the tests it could perform — an average of 357 a day instead of the 3,000 it could do with enough reagents — the substance added to specimens to detect genetic markers of the virus, spokesman Bob Ortieb said. 

    Henry Ford is processing 200-300 tests a day, but could do more than 1,000 if it had enough swabs, spokeswoman Kim North Shine said Monday.

    Oakland County opened a testing site last week in partnership with Honor Community Health. The county hopes eventually to run  specimens in its own labs. It ordered two machines to do so, but it too hasn’t been able to get enough testing material, said county spokesman Bill Mullan.

    Central City Integrated Health, in downtown Detroit, said it was able to score supplies for some 30,000 test kits more than a week ago after long hours on calls to an international distributor, a factory in China, and a lab in Korea. It was also able to line up a lab to process the tests. 

    But the health clinic said it can’t yet take advantage of testing capabilities because it lacks personal protective equipment needed so staff can safely administer the tests.

    Dr. Kimberly Farrow, interim president and CEO of Central City Integrated Health, said it likely was a “little bit of luck and grace and serendipity” that allowed her to find 30,000 COVID-19 testing kits. Now, the Detroit clinic is waiting for personal protective equipment to administer the tests.

    “I got confirmation that the order will be here this week,” Interim President and CEO Dr. Kimberly Farrow told Bridge Monday. 

    Central City would be among the first to offer the test to asymptomatic individuals — an effort that will help contain the spread in southeast Michigan. The clinic said it is planning to distribute tests to other health clinics as well, and hopes to conduct “mass testing” at churches and community organizations.

    “You have people wanting to return to work and they want notices — a letter from the doctor,” Farrow said. “But we can't necessarily send people back to work with great confidence because we don't know if they're still infectious or not.” 

    This waiting game is what makes the supply issue particularly confounding, according to U-M’s Eisenberg.

    “It’s not like this is a technological problem or that we don’t have the capability. It’s a supply chain issue,” he said.

    The federal government, even the military, could play an important role in connecting that chain, he said: “You can’t win a war if you run out of food.”

    Serologic testing

    Eisenberg and others point to a second set of tests that can also offer crucial information to policymakers trying to determine when and how to safely reopen.

    Blood tests that detect antibodies to COVID-19, which in theory would help identify people who gained immunity after having the disease, are also considered crucial for reopening the state. But currently available tests, many of which were rushed to market in response to the pandemic without any scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, do not all provide accurate or reliable results. 

    And, crucially, given its newness, it is not yet clear if the presence of antibodies to COVID-19 makes a person immune and for how long. 

    Still, doctor’s offices and labs across Michigan have started offering the tests, or are looking to purchase them in order to test large numbers of patients. Antibody test results are not required to be reported to the state so it’s impossible to know how many have been administered, or even where they’re offered.

    Some states are planning for widespread antibody testing. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the beginning of large-scale antibody testing on Monday, with a goal of testing thousands per day. In Idaho, a nonprofit group called Crush the Curve Idaho is offering diagnostic and antibody tests to anyone in the state regardless of symptoms or risk level. 

    Bridge reporters Jonathan Oosting and Mike Wilkinson contributed to this report.

    RESOURCES:

    Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

    If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

    Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

    Comment Form

    Add new comment

    Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

    Plain text

    • No HTML tags allowed.
    • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
    • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
    CAPTCHA
    This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

    Comments

    Matt
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:17am

    If a person is tested showing negative, as are the majority, what's to stop them from being exposed a week later? Unless there's thinking that everyone in the state (or who will be or we'll be in contact with, no matter where they're from) is all tested simultaneously and those who show+ are truly absolutely quarantined? What's the likelihood of any of this? Doubt it. Sounds like IF the authorities are right (with big unknowns) and there's no vaccine, we're all going to get it anyway (yes a very serious deal and we can hope its only once). But continuing a total economy wide lockdown waiting for testing sounds like endless whack- a- mole. Better off keeping Gramma segregated away and waiting for vaccine.

    John Chastain
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:51am

    "Better off keeping Gramma segregated away and waiting for vaccine" Well Matt that was ignorant, do you still think that older people are the only ones at risk? really! The evidence of widespread illness and death throughout the population apparently hasn't made its way to your attention eh. If you still think this is just the flue on steroid's perhaps that makes sense but we still don't even know if getting it "only once" will create immunity. Even testing for antibodies and allowing those found positive to go back to some semblance of normal is a crap shoot. Besides lots of us "older folk" fill essential roles in society from childcare to volunteer services not to mention many who are still in the work force. So no sorry but it ain't as simple as warehousing the old folk and going back to normal. Testing is only part of a coordinated response that includes PPE and continued social distancing but if going back to a functioning society is the goal then testing is crucial eh,

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:39am

    The article says that the goal is 152 tests per 100,000 people. At even that astronomical testing rate, it would take 657.9 days to test everyone in Michigan (100000/152). That's almost two years!! And we don't even know if the presence of antibodies guarantees immunity. Or if the virus is mutating, as viruses often do, which could render the testing obsolete. And everyone who hasn't had it yet will need to be re-tested on a regular basis, right?

    This is called "moving the goal posts". The stated goal of the shelter-in-place order was to "smooth the curve", and it worked. Good job. everyone! But this new idea that we can't go back to normal until the virus is eliminated or there's a vaccine is absurd. It will probably never be completely eliminated, and a suitable vaccine may prove impossible.

    We are citizens, not serfs, and we can make our risk-based decisions.

    Anonymous
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:20pm

    Phil, that's what you got out of the article?

    Bridge, another great article, only I wish you would have interviewed our leaders to see how they intend to fix the problems. I would like to know if Whitmer, Shirkey, and Chatfield are going to allocate funds to get us what we need and how they are doing with getting help from the president and federal government.

    I'm a volunteer testing people in Pontiac and Detroit and I haven't even been tested. They just take my temperature. I could be asymptomatic.
    Why aren't we testing volunteers? Why are we relying on volunteers? Why don't they pay people like me who are risking our lives and those of our families? I'm not doing it for the money, but I don't understand the premise of relying on volunteers and the charity of private businesses.

    Major retailers are calling themselves "small businesses" and getting hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus relief, while healthcare workers are getting furloughed and fired.

    More importantly why don't we have the tests and supplies that we need, no matter how many that may be?

    Moreover we don't even know the efficacy of the tests, whether or not they are defective and give false negatives or positives.

    "The federal government, even the military, could play an important role in connecting that chain, he said: You can’t win a war if you run out of food,” from your article.

    What is our wartime president doing? Why doesn't he use the full force of the Defense Production Act to get the supplies we need to reopen our economy? Why isn't our state laser-focused on finding the funding needed? I think that's the legislature's job.

    Maybe our elected officials should volunteer to test people for COVID19 on the front lines for even just an hour a week to better understand the risks we all face first hand?

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:41pm

    From the article "Eisenberg and others point to a second set of tests that can also offer crucial information to policymakers trying to determine when and how to safely reopen." That means that it'll certainly be many months before there's enough hard data to allow Whitmer to re-open the economy. And years before everyone has been tested at least once, plus all of the routine re-tests of whose who test negative. How else should this be interpreted?

    You do realize that the state and local government revenue is going to fall to near zero with this lockdown. There'll be virtually no gas tax revenue, sales tax revenue (it doesn't apply to food), and no income to tax. How is the government supposed to fund the 20 million+ tests that will be necessary to test everyone plus the re-tests (Michigan's population is about 10 million). How are the local governments supposed to pay the police? The hospitals are all going to close without the revenue from elective surgeries. And don't tell me that the federal government will pay for it all, because it's the same story there, no income to tax, no stock profits to tax, etc.

    Get real
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:25pm

    Many people are not making money, but many are. Those making money are spending it and being taxed. They aren't just buying food. Toilet paper is taxed and they can't keep it on the shelves. Joking aside, you never addressed the premise that the president needs to urgently invoke the full power of the Defense Production Act to get all the tests we need and want, along with any other essential supplies needed to fight, contain, trace the virus so we can all do what we all want: reopen the economy. The problem is the lazy egocentric orange fatazz in the DC.

    John Chastain
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:25pm

    The article says “ The Harvard team said the United States needs to triple its level of testing to 152 tests per 100,000 people by May 15 to safely reopen the country. Currently in Michigan, testing levels are at 45 per 100,000, based on a seven-day rolling average.“. It doesn’t say or even imply your conclusion which seems more driven by the attitude expressed in your last line “We are citizens, not serfs, and we can make our risk- based decisions”. The work I did often required risk based decisions, over time I learned that the more information I had the better the quality of the decisions. That’s the goal & if testing level from the Harvard team is implemented by “MAY 15th” then we can safely reopen the state. Your “freedom” is limited by more than your desires, ours matter as well.

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:19pm

    John, I'll repeat what I said in an earlier comment.

    From the article: “But we can't necessarily send people back to work with great confidence because we don't know if they're still infectious or not.” And this: "As social distancing rules relax, adequate levels of testing will help policymakers identify who can return to the workplace and with longer-term pandemic surveillance."

    They're talking about individuals, not a representative sample. In other words, you can't go back to work or school unless you've been tested. Which means that we have to test virtually everyone.

    It's a trap. Don't fall for it. I'll take messy liberty to quiet servitude.

    “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” ― Samuel Adams

    Matt
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:36pm

    Setting aside the usual sanctimony, obviously elderly are not the only people who should worry and nowhere was it said this is "just the flu", nor should care be taken as much as possible! But betting that testing is our ultimate salvation from this and we must cower in our homes while the economy crumbles into a bankrupt hulk until someone's (constantly changing) definition of testing for a disease, we don’t understand, proves we're absolutely out of risk is nuts. As school administrators already questioning starting school in the fall!! But It is hard for folks who've spent their entire career in some governmental or like position to understand risks always exist, knowledge is uncertain and income isn’t guaranteed.

    WTF
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 7:00pm

    They canceled Oktoberfest in Germany! Crazy! Crazy like a fox! Why does the US have to be the leader in the failure department with the highest number of cases and deaths? Answer: we have the most conspiracy theorists, the dumbest president, and the most adamant followers, like you.

    Matt
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:17am

    If a person is tested showing negative, as are the majority, what's to stop them from being exposed a week later? Unless there's thinking that everyone in the state (or who will be or we'll be in contact with, no matter where they're from) is all tested simultaneously and those who show+ are truly absolutely quarantined? What's the likelihood of any of this? Doubt it. Sounds like IF the authorities are right (with big unknowns) and there's no vaccine, we're all going to get it anyway (yes a very serious deal and we can hope its only once). But continuing a total economy wide lockdown waiting for testing sounds like endless whack- a- mole. Better off keeping Gramma segregated away and waiting for vaccine.

    Anonymous
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:39am

    Matt, you are no more immune than "Gramma" and if either of you get seriously sick, together you will overburden the healthcare system, setting us back to where we started.

    Matt
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:42pm

    Obviously not but none the less but Gramma ends up in hospital on a vent or worse far more often than younger people! Not even close to arguable.

    Free Gramma!
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:00pm

    It's cumulative you fool, even if few victims on ventilators are younger. Too many at once overburden the system and most of us love our Grammas, don't want to store them in a closet so you can live your life more freely.

    Bernadette
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 10:44am

    Yes this is a complex problem and you miss the point Matt. This virus is different than any that has been seen. It is unpredictable, rabidly contagious, and indiscriminate in who gets severe cases. Our current health system does not have the capacity to care for the number of cases that requires hospitalization if the state just opens up. Our country does not have the supply chain to give us the testing that is needed, the PPE that is needed and the human capital needed to care for the number that would be infected. Funeral homes don't have the capacity to handle all of the deaths.

    Don't worry about "gramma". Worry about yourself and your family who may be one of those in need of health services but don't have access due to a lack of capacity. Which one of them are you willing to put at risk? Instead of sitting in the cheap seats and casting aspersions on the plan, why don't you offer some "constructive" and "creative" solutions, instead of an all or nothing solution.

    Matt
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 3:26pm

    Bernadette as you well know Gramma (as well as the obese, diabetic, hypertense) ends up in hospital on a vent or worse far more often than younger people! Hospitals are not plugged up with younger people. Not arguable.
    The capacity issue you brought up has proven to be nonsense with hospitals laying off nurses etc. sitting empty waiting for CVD cases that aren't not coming. Projecting Detroit and Flint's situation onto the rest of the state has proven thankfully wrong. Speaking of constructive alternative solutions is too late as our Gov went draconian ending all discussions. I'll hope if this arises again she'll have the sense to look at all the empty hotels as obvious quarantine centers and nonfunctioning restaurants as feeding options instead of shutting down the whole works but we'll have to wait and see.

    Clean Eating
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 7:03pm

    Matt,

    Think of testing like this:

    It's like when there is E Coli in your hamburger or listeria in your strawberries. You kind of want to trace where it came from and where it was distributed. You don't just want to ignore it and have people eat it, hoping for the best, especially if it's food for your pregnant wife, child or someone with an underlying health condition. I know that many people die from food poisoning every year. It's doesn't mean we should ignore it. We still need to inspect farms, growers, processing and packaging facilities, warehouses, trucking companies, wholesale and retail locations, restaurants, etc.

    It's basically the same principle. You want to test and contact trace the virus to contain it. Is that clear? Otherwise, go for it; eat sh_t and die.

    Avenged
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:37am

    You can test everyone up front but that does nothing but tell you that day if someone has it. Are they going to test every person weekly, biweekly, etc because just a one time test does not guarantee that you wont be exposed after that test and get it.

    Just Do It
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:28pm

    Yes, we need to produce cheap effective tests. Then what happens is that people who are positive can self quarantine for two weeks. We can also do contact tracing and contain the spread. That makes much more sense than trying to figure out who is at risk and tell them to not move ever. Lastly, viruses mutate so we need to learn much more about possible reinfection and immunity. People can retest when they learn someone they were in contact with tests positive. But people who learn they are positive need to self quarantine.

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:40am

    No. We sheltered-in-place to "smooth the curve", to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed, and it worked. Congratulations! Beaumont Wayne hospital was converted to Wuhan flu-only, and it closed last week for lack of patients. We are citizens, not serfs, and we can weigh the risks going forward.

    For testing to be effective, we'd have to test everyone, and retest them on a regular basis, which is physically impossible in a country of over 300 million. And we don't even know if the presence of antibodies signifies immunity.

    Jeffrey Kless
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 1:24pm

    To do a survey you do not have to survey the entire population because there is a thing called statistics. The most important thing is that you have a large enough population to satisfy various requirements .
    I would suggest that before you offer your testing advice you either get a degree in medical statistics or talk to your friend with a degree in medical statistics.

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:52pm

    From the article: “But we can't necessarily send people back to work with great confidence because we don't know if they're still infectious or not.” And this: "As social distancing rules relax, adequate levels of testing will help policymakers identify who can return to the workplace and with longer-term pandemic surveillance."

    They're talking about each individual, not a representative sample. In other words, you can't go back to work or school unless you've been tested. Which means that we have to test virtually everyone.

    Whitmer is really, really enjoying her newfound powers. She's not going to give them up easily. This is a really nice excuse to keep everything locked down for the foreseeable future. She's still got a paycheck, and access to her hair stylist. It's good to be the queen.

    Spectator
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 5:24pm

    Okay bud, please provide your college transcripts, with raised seal and notarized, so we can determine if you are qualified to comment on statistics. You must deem yourself an authority on the subject. God knows, everyone must be credentialed to have an opinion.

    Think
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:03pm

    Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one, but right now we have to be careful and listen to the ones attached to brains and hard work and peer review. Think Fauci.

    Hank Quayle
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 4:52pm

    Phil, you are bringing up reasonable, sensible, measured, and well thought out positions. Sadly, there are many who are scared, fearful, bought off, and confused. It's easy to just hide in your house when confronted with these emotions. Risks and risk-management are complicated concepts to understand- hiding in your big house living on a government salary is easy to understand.

    Fearless
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:06pm

    Hank, is that the best you've got? Lucky for you adults are in charge and we have Trump on a short leash.

    Don
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:41am

    The only ones that are protesting are trumps brain damaged sheeps< all the governors have to do is cut off their welfare checks and food stamps!!!

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:24am

    Even with the lockdown, the virus is going to continue to circulate through the workers in health care , grocery store , truck drivers, Walmart and Amazon warehouses, police, and waste water treatment workers. There's no way to truly stop it without completely closing everything, which would end up killing more than the virus itself.

    How about prisons, Don? If the Wuhan virus is so dangerous, how can we expect the guards and food workers to continue to work there? So, what's your solution? Should we just release all the prisoners?

    Life is full of risk. Get over it. 36,000 people die in car accidents per year. Should we ban cars? Smoking kills 480,000 per year in the US alone, but that's perfectly legal. The regular flu kills 50,000 each year in the US. Should we lockdown the country from October to April every year? Of course not.

    John Chastain
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:32pm

    Phil all you’re doing now is ignoring the content of the article and the justified feedback your comments are provoking. If you’re gonna make clearly wrong or misinformed statements or engage in straw man arguments expect a response. If it ain’t right then saying it over and over again won’t make it so.

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:55pm

    John, I was replying to Don, not commenting on the article. Why don't you talk to him about staying on topic?

    No viral ignorance
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:40pm

    We're not trying to stop the "Wuhan virus:". We are trying to flatten the curve. We need a vaccine to stop the virus. We are just buying time, to save ourselves because of fools like you that don't care. I notice your insistence on using the Republican term "Wuhan virus". Don't you think Trump should be stricter with China in our trade deals? Why is he mad at the WHO, but not at China? Is it because we rely on China for COVID19 supplies? Answer: YES. Why doesn't Trump make it a condition of our trade deals that the wet markets be shut down?

    Phil
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:15pm

    Trump was essentially alone four years ago in calling for stronger border protections and a tougher stance on China. Events have proved him to be correct. He had to fight with Mexico, Canada, the media, the unions, the US Chamber of Commerce, most of congress, and Pelosi in order to re-write NAFTA (to close the NAFTA backdoor that China was exploiting), which along with the tariffs forced China to sign a pretty good trade deal for the US. That was all him.

    And we did flatten the curve. Beaumont Wayne hospital was converted to serve only bat-soup-flu victims, and it's now been closed for lack of patients. Well done. It's time to get back to work.

    Arjay
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 8:57am

    Simple. You just pretend everyone else has the virus and follow the staysafe rules of staying x feet away, washing hands, wiping surfaces before you touch them, and have a mask for when needed. Then everyone can go back to work with some adjustments.

    Soapy
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:43pm

    Arjay, that's what we did before we had to shut everything down. It doesn't work.

    Arjay
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 4:51pm

    You're right, it doesn't work if you are having parties and cookouts and family gatherings. But it does work if the people involved do the right thing. Maybe we should just let the virus run its course and let the Darwin theory work. In fact, it is working just fine in certain neighborhoods where people have some intelligence.

    JR
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:30pm

    In which neighborhoods is it working? Names please. The virus will only run it's course with exponentially higher deaths. You idea was Boris Johnson's idea, until he and his pregnant girfriend got infected by COVID19. Why do we have to wait until your family is personally impacted before taking precautions for the greater common good?

    Arjay
    Wed, 04/22/2020 - 9:52am

    I do take plenty of precautions. If I'm outside walking and I see a walker or a biker approach me, I walk 20' perpendicular to our paths so as to avoid them. If I go out, which is seldom, I mask and glove up. Can't count how many times a day I wash hands. Never touch anything outside my personal domain without gloves or a plastic bag over my hands. Before putting my credit card away, it gets wiped down with alcohol. If anyone comes to visit, which is seldom, separation is 12'. In my little enclave of the world, perhaps 3,000 people, I don't know of a single case, but that is because we all take personal responsibility for ourselves.

    A Yooper
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:01am

    There are are so many unknowns with this virus.
    Some people are getting re-infected.
    The Abbot laboratories tests are the most widely used in the U.S. and are now considered to be the least accurate.
    Stay at home, wash hands, maintain the 6' rule, stop smoking. Smokers will spread the virus in the expelled smoke, especially with deep inhalations and exhalations. Plus, their lungs will have problems if the smokers get the virus as it attacks lung tissue.
    BE SMART AND DON'T GIVE IN TO TEMPTATIONS TO HANG WITH PEOPLE.

    Lead or Leave
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:26am

    Mr President, Defense Production Act NOW! Test kit and components, training, labs, essential medicines. Testing is the only way to open the economy, to contain, to contact trace, to allow healthcare facilities, funeral homes, grave diggers, etc. the ability to manage and plan for what to expect.

    Jim Pearson
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:44pm

    What exactly is the Defense Production Act going to do? It isn't a magic spell that you invoke. Are you suggesting that rather then President Trump work with willing partners in the private section that instead the US government should seize these industries and make the people in them work? Look dude, slaves are less productive than free citizens, and although your party has long been the party of slavery, my party was created to fight that institution. Trump's approach of using civil society, voluntary participation, willing business partners, and a steady hand is a better approach than the power-grab that you suggest.

    Lago Maro Calling
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:34am

    It's too bad Whitmer isn't married to someone from South Korea, like the governor in Maryland, then she could get all the necessary testing kits we need. In Republican world it's all about who you know and how much money you have.

    I wonder why Trump won't exercise the Defense Prodution Act to Make America First, as he promised in 2016. Why are the states competing against each other on the world market, paying over the top prices for things that we should be producing HERE? Why not put Americans back to work by producing the military gear we need to fight this war? What kind of "Wartime President" is Trump?

    Answer: A weak ineffective indifferent one.

    It's way past Trump's time to retire to Florida.

    R.L.
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:54am

    Keeping grandma separated isn't the answer. Young and old can get it or spread it. Do you really believe that Trump wants a lot more testing. More testing will show more disease and possibly more deaths. I bleed for those who have lost their jobs. It happened to my dad 50 plus years and fortunately my mom had a job. He took my car for six months while he looked for work. I was 20 and in college. Peace R,L,

    Matt
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 3:33pm

    RL you can't argue that Gramma (along with other specific and often age related conditions) is far more likely, in raw numbers, to end up hosiptalized or dead than younger folks, are you?

    Cathy
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:54am

    Michigan's Covid19 case standing was third in the Nation and now we are 6th which is proof that the Governor's actions have saved life's and heath of many. Too reverse the closures prematurely would be a fools errand.

    John
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:54am

    On April 7th there were about 1800 cases per day, two weeks later (April 20th) there are almost 600 cases per day. This is a gateway statistic!
    Here are the Counties with populations over 400k and cases per 1000 population:
    Detroit City - 11.5
    Macomb - 5.1
    Oakland - 4.9
    Wayne - 3.5
    Genesee - 3.1
    All others combined total - 1.0

    The Governor was briefed yesterday about Federal labs available in Michigan to do testing. Are local telemedicine centers informed about these resources?

    Data source: Michigan.gov

    Please stop shifting the goal post, and calling for more sacrifice. We are with you, now start protecting the vulnerable and get the economy going. This is not WWII where we were fighting to keep our liberty from being lost by working for the war effort. It’s WWPandemic where we are fighting to keep our liberty going from not working.

    Sorry John
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:49pm

    Does that comment make sense to anyone?

    George Hagenauer
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 10:55am

    Testing is only part of the data issue but a key one . Let's be frank a lot of people out of the workforce -seniors like me , people with preexisting conditions- people who have seniors or people with pre-existing conditions if they can will be out of the economy for a long time - so envision stores, gas stations, restaurants etc. with really reduced sales. An interesting thing that no one has talked about is Canada- you know a few miles away from us in SE Michigan has had far fewer cases per capita and way fewer deaths than just us. This could be because they are just healthier than us but my guess is having a robust national health system as opposed to a lot of competing free market medical groups is part of it. Another thing that is critical for reporters to check is if all the labs are now providing all of the data. For a long while our testing data was incredibly incomplete again due to a fractured uncoordinated medical system. In other parts of the world supplies and doctors can be moved around easily but not here. Testing is critical because in places where very little of it has been done (rural areas) the virus can be lurking and as we have seen in South Dakota and Iowa etc. when it pops up it can disrupt everything.

    DH Andrews
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:03am

    The mitigation procedures were never designed to prevent infection by the virus, only to slow and delay the infection. With or without testing, there are only three futures with this virus: the first future is a successful vaccine and that is at least 15 months future. The other two futures are to become infected and recover or become infected and not recover. If we open the state to socially distanced business as usual, now, in July, or in December, everyone in this state will become infected over time.

    The purpose for the mitigation was to flatten the peak - the area under the two curves is equivalent, however, the outcomes are different. Without mitigation, the peak would have overwhelmed the capacity of the health care system - remember when we thought we needed over 100,000 more ventilators - now with the mitigation effort, we have enough with only the 10,000 held by the US Government . IF we remain within health systems capacity, we reduce the percentage dying from the disease while accepting that everyone will deal with this disease for the next year or longer.

    So, we are over the peak, our healthcare system is now capable of handling this disease, the best thing we can do for the overall health of the state and the nation is to reopen and restart the economic engine.

    We need also to start taking care of the heart attacks and cancer that we have turned our health care backs on for the last two months!

    Not true
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 3:01pm

    DH Andrews, good post overall, until the last couple of sentences. We need to reopen the economy slowly or we will be back where we started. As to the last line, that is simply not true. My grandfather, in his late 90's, had a heart attack and spent a week in the hospital, all alone. We could not visit him and we were terrified he would get COVID19. The truth is that he had two surgeries and came home fine back to my grandmother. My Mom has cancer and has had no problems getting treatments or services. Granted elective surgeries are not being done and that is costly to hospitals, but please don't scare people into believing that we have ever stopped taking care of the heart attacks and cancer like you said. No one has turned their "health care backs" on that for the last two months. That is a horrible thing to say.

    Answers needed
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:04am

    So is the problem, Michigan has not acquired enough swabs, test kits etc.... it seems like other states have a better grip and access to the supply chain? We need clarity and specificity!
    Thanks!

    Facts needed
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 3:03pm

    "Seems"? Which ones? "We need clarity and specificity!"

    suppresst
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:22am

    You're being mislead. This article either deliberately (most likely) or mistakenly ignores the fact that both feds and Michigan Republicans offer option to, and urge upon, Whitmer a regional approach to opening. There are eight Emergency Preparedness Regions in Michigan (and many more counties).. We shouldn’t hold the entire state hostage to southeast Michigan not meeting criteria for opening. If the U.P. can conduct enough testing…

    Feelings for Fauci
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 3:10pm

    What does that even mean? Let other parts of the state like western or northern Michigan do whatever they want? The west side (Bible Belt) has not even started to flatten the curve, while most of the rest of the state has. We'd all like to get this under control so we can vacation across Michigan and refuel the local economies. Why encourage recklessness? We should take a scientific approach.

    Anonymous
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 1:10pm

    People can’t live their lives in constant media-driven fear in a bubble or hazmat suit. Even vaccines are not 100% effective. Live healthy & free. If hospitals are so overrun, why are so many laying off hundreds or thousands of staff? The supposed “cures” may be worse than this virus. Be safe but reasonable. Quarantine yourself if ill. Is herd immunity the better choice?

    Next commet
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 3:13pm

    "Is herd immunity the better choice?" Hey, Alexis....? Computer says "no".

    Anonymous
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 1:10pm

    People can’t live their lives in constant media-driven fear in a bubble or hazmat suit. Even vaccines are not 100% effective. Live healthy & free. If hospitals are so overrun, why are so many laying off hundreds or thousands of staff? The supposed “cures” may be worse than this virus. Be safe but reasonable. Quarantine yourself if ill. Is herd immunity the better choice?

    Bruce
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 2:50pm

    Or...you could just let people under 40 with no underlying conditions and open the schools again. Herd immunity. Its the only way now.

    Nope
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 9:41pm

    There's nothing magical about 40. People over 100 have caught and survived Covid19. Healthy people in the 20's have died from it. Anyone can be an asymptomatic carrier. The governor can lift the stay in place orders, but unless people feel safe they won't do much other than basic essentials and if they see full hospitals, they won't do anything. Survival is human nature. That's also why it's a lie that there will be all these suicides.

    Matt G
    Wed, 04/22/2020 - 8:27am

    Because nobody over 40 works in a school, right? What even are these posts? Think please, people.

    Not to mention the hospitalization rate isn't the same as the death rate. "Open the economy" calls without quality testing ignore the fact that you might spend days/week+ in the hospital even if you're young.

    Imagine your son or daughter is a nurse. Are you still wanting to "open the economy' and go back to 1800 cases/day? Do they have enough PPE and personnel to safely handle that?

    The answer is no, but you know, it's just overblown by the media, right? /s

    Jim
    Tue, 04/21/2020 - 6:19pm

    For the first week back I think our legislative leaders, that vote to reopen, should be randomly assigned a regular job back in their communities to work with other employees and be restricted to only be able to wear the protective gear provided by the employer.

    Michelle
    Wed, 04/22/2020 - 4:07pm

    Where are the antibody test?
    People who had symptoms a few weeks back were denied Covid-19 testing. Now these people are symptom free and need the antibody test not the Covid-19 test.
    These people, if the antibody test comes back positive, can help save lives and can, we believe, reenter the work force.
    It seems that the nation is always two steps behind the process.