(This story was updated at 4:05 p.m.)
FRIDAY, April 10 — More than a dozen new COVID-19 cases were again reported in Greater Lansing earlier this afternoon as the statewide case count edged to nearly 23,000 with nearly 1,300 deaths.
Across Michigan, 1,279 new cases of coronavirus and 205 new deaths were reported by the state today, including a fourth death in Eaton County and a third death in Clinton County. Ingham County tracks three deaths. Recent reports of a fourth death were inaccurate. It was later discovered the patient died of causes unrelated to coronavirus, officials announced today.
Here are the latest statistics from this afternoon, with tracked changes from yesterday:
Cases — 22,783 (+5.9%)
Deaths — 1,281 (+19.1%)
Recoveries — 56
Cases — 240
Deaths — 3
Recoveries — 60
Cases — 69
Deaths — 4
Recoveries — 37
Cases — 90
Deaths — 3
Recoveries — N/A
State officials announced yesterday that about 18% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are hospitalized, with the majority of severe illnesses still being reported in southeast Michigan. State officials track their recoveries based on patients who show no symptoms after 30 days.
According to state reports, about 79% of cases (and about 85% of those dead) are from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Data also shows African Americans accounted for 33% of cases and 41% of deaths. Caucasians accounted for 26% of cases and 32% of deaths; those of unknown race charted 32% of cases and 22% of deaths.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer established a task force yesterday to address racial disparities in communities that are most impacted by the spread of coronavirus. It meets this week. Whitmer has since signed a number of executive orders to protect people in vulnerable communities, including orders to ban evictions and tax foreclosures and expand unemployment benefits.
“This virus is holding a mirror up to our society and reminding us of the deep inequities in this country,” Whitmer said in a press release. “From basic lack of access to health care, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest. This task force will help us start addressing these disparities right now as we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.”
Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 427,460 cases of COVID-19 and 14,696 deaths in the U.S. The New York Times database, which is updated more frequently, listed more: At least 483,600 confirmed cases and 17,947 deaths nationwide.
Michigan is still the state with the third most confirmed cases in the country, still behind New York and New Jersey. Michigan also reports the third-highest number of deaths among states.
While the virus strains health care systems globally, a recent study shows that Michigan is relatively well-staffed and well above the national average in health care workers per capita. In Michigan, there are 419,590 health care workers — nearly 4.2 for about every 100 residents.
Michigan will remain in a virus-induced lockdown for at least a few more weeks after Whitmer extended and strengthened yesterday an executive “Stay Safe, Stay Home” order, closing all nonessential businesses and ordering residents to mostly stay at home until at least April 30.
“Now is not the time to pull back at all,” Whitmer said. “It’s the time to intensify.”
The statewide lockdown was initially scheduled to end Tuesday, but the latest extension pushed that date back until at least the end of the month. A state of emergency would need to be legislatively extended to enable Whitmer to extend the order into the summer months.
As with the prior order, this extension limits gatherings (now of all sizes) and nearly all travel requiring all workers who are unnecessary to “sustain or protect life” to stay home. With new limitations, the order also now bans all unnecessary travel “between residences” after today.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Michiganders will no longer be legally permitted to get in the car or even cross the street to visit friends and neighbors unless it is to care for someone in need or in other extremely limited instances. Vacation travel has been entirely prohibited.
Under the new order, public and private gatherings of any size among people outside a single household are also prohibited. As before, outdoor activities and exercise are allowed, but social distancing recommendations — at least a six-foot distance from others — must be followed.
Exceptions still exist for trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, hospital or to buy goods at other essential businesses like gas stations, car repair shops, restaurants and convenience stores. But Whitmer is forcing stores larger than 50,000 square feet to take some extra precautions.
Specifically, large stores that remain open must limit the number of people inside their facilities to no more than four customers for every 1,000 square-feet of customer floor space. Under the order, they’re also required to stop advertising nonessential products beginning Monday.
To regulate entry, large stores are expected to establish lines with markings for patrons to stand at least six feet apart while they wait to be let inside. Those stores must also close off sections dedicated specifically to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries or paint.
Similarly, smaller stores must also limit capacity to 25% of their occupancy limits. And stores, like many have done already, must also create two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for the vulnerable — like seniors, pregnant women and those with health conditions.
To help enable critical workers to get to their jobs, automobile dealerships are also now allowed to open for remote sales, though in-person showrooms must remain closed under the order. Workers at dry cleaners and laundromats have also been cleared to return to work this week.
“This doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal on May 1,” Whitmer said in a release. “But based on the data we have right now, this is the appropriate window for an extension.”
Whitmer said preliminary data suggests the spread of the virus may be slowing in Michigan, noting that continued, aggressive social distancing measures can help totally flatten the curve.
In other news…
The Lansing City Council voted unanimously yesterday afternoon to extend the city’s existing state of emergency until at least April 30 to coincide with Whitmer’s latest executive order extension. It would’ve otherwise expired tomorrow without an action from City Council.
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership is quickly evaluating 208 applications from Lansing region small businesses to help them get through the economic fallout of COVID-19. Over the coming weeks, four to 20 low-interest small business loan applications will be approved.
And an additional $400,000 in small business grant funding will be made available for locally owned businesses in Lansing that are closed or struggling to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Andy Schor labeled it yesterday as the “Small Business Recovery Program.” That follows the awarding of 60 $10,000 grants to local businesses from state funds also made available through LEAP.
The Michigan National Guard received yesterday a request to aid community healthcare coalitions with medical equipment in four cities across Michigan, including Lansing. Soon, four National Guard members will be assigned to help support the city with planning, distributing and tracking critical medical supplies to assist in the fight against COVID-19.
Two East Lansing women recently started an online fund to help pay for the hotel rooms that front line workers and first responders have been staying in, reports the Lansing State Journal.
Michigan is the first state in the country to gain federal approval of a program that will provide meals to children who were affected by coronavirus-related school closures. The program will load food assistance cash onto EBT cards to be used specifically for students ages 5-18 that receive free or reduced-price meals. About 895,000 students are expected to receive benefits.
Those without a current EBT card will have to wait for one to arrive in the mail. State officials said they will mail out instructions to eligible families within the next week, MLive reports.
Whitmer announced that the TCF Regional Care Center in Detroit accepted its first 25 patients today in partnership with several southeastern Michigan hospital systems. A second field hospital is also scheduled to be constructed at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.
Henry Ford Health Systems officials said yesterday that more patients were being discharged than those still being admitted into the emergency room, an indication southeast Michigan could reach a peak in the next few days, according to recent reports in the Detroit News.
Nearly 385,000 Michiganders filed initial claims for unemployment over the last week, adding to more than 817,000 filed over the last three weeks. The state’s 3.6% unemployment rate will skyrocket when monthly reports are released in May and June, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Nessel warned residents yesterday that door-to-door scammers may attempt to pose as government officials, offering information on stimulus checks or unemployment benefits. Any contact from someone posing as an official should always be verified by asking for credentials.
Over 100 patients and employees at Michigan’s state-run psychiatric hospitals tested positive for COVID-19 across at least six facilities, according to reports in the Lansing State Journal.
Electric Forest, a popular electronic music festival held in Rothbury each summer, may not happen this year after it did not receive a requested date change that was made because of the coronavirus. The rejection leaves uncertain whether it will occur this year, MLive reports.
The latest information is posted at michigan.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.
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