Ingham County charts first COVID-19 death

Coronavirus in Michigan: Day 22

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(This story was updated at 4:35 p.m.) 

WEDNESDAY, April 1 — Ingham County charted its first COVID-19 death this afternoon as the number of deaths reported in Michigan rises to 337, with 9,300 confirmed cases statewide. 

The Ingham County Health Department today announced that a homebound man in his 50s died at an unnamed hospital after contracting coronavirus. He reportedly also had underlying health conditions, which likely played a “contributing factor” in his death, officials said.

“It’s a sobering reminder of why people must practice social distancing,” County Health Officer Linda Vail said in a statement sent out to local media outlets earlier this afternoon. “Not everyone who has the coronavirus will be sick. Distance yourself from others as if everyone has it. Be diligent with hand washing. Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.” 

The man did not expose the general public to the coronavirus, according to county officials.  No other details were made available. 

Michigan charted another 1,719 new cases of COVID-19 and another 78 related deaths earlier this afternoon. The statewide total has now risen to 9,334 confirmed cases and 337 deaths since the first two Michigan patients were identified on the night of the primary election, March 10. 

According to reports released today, about 88% of those dead (and about 80% of cases) are from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. At least 181 cases are reported from Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties, with one death in Ingham County. 

For a third consecutive day, today’s test results again marked the largest daily spike in coronavirus cases in Michigan, up from 7,615 cases reported on Tuesday. Models suggested the state would have reached a total of 10,000 cases today and will surpass 25,000 cases by Sunday. 

Another widely cited projection shows Michigan could face between 1,000 and 4,500 deaths from COVID-19, even with mitigation efforts fully in place, reports the Detroit Free Press

“Detroit is having a really hard time,” President Donald Trump said at a briefing yesterday at the White House. “It came out of nowhere. … This could be a hell of a bad two weeks.” 

As of this afternoon, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 186,101cases of COVID-19 and 3,603 deaths in the U.S. The New York Times database listed at least 205,172 confirmed cases and at least 4,500 deaths nationwide as of earlier this afternoon. 

Crain’s Detroit Business reports that aggressive social distancing could cut by 65% the number hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the University of Michigan Hospitals to 2,000 by May 4. Projections with less aggressive techniques showed about 5,860 patients in the same timeframe. 

Among the recently infected: 31 residents and five employees at a West Michigan nursing home and an unconfirmed number of cases spread across seven Advantage Living Centers facilities in Detroit, Harper Woods, Redford, Wayne and Battle Creek, reports the Detroit Free Press

In Greater Lansing… 

Some patients, including one in Greater Lansing, have been forced to wait nearly two weeks for COVID-19 test results to be returned, according to recent reports in the Lansing State Journal.  

To assist, Michigan State University opened drive-thru coronavirus testing today for those with a doctor’s order to be tested. The site is in front of Clinton County Medical Center Pharmacy on MSU’s campus, Parking Lot 100, 804 Service Rd. and open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  

MSU also sent three trucks of gloves, goggles, face shields, respirator masks, gowns, cleaners and other medical supplies to health care workers today, reports the Lansing State Journal.  

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership announced today that it received 1,875 applications from businesses vying for a set of 60 individual $10,000 grants to assist those struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Grantees will be notified April 6 and receive funding April 8.  

At least two or three dozen people in Lansing, likely more, are camped out at parks and wooded knolls, underneath bridges and inside empty buildings. Local homeless shelters have reached capacity. And this week, many more will have nowhere to turn as COVID-19 spreads.  

While many entrepreneurs have fallen into compliance over the last week, either telling their employees to work from home or closing their doors altogether, some retailers across Greater Lansing have needed an occasional nudge from law enforcement over the last few days.  

“We’ve received some guidance from the state, but there have been some people pushing the boundaries of this order by three or four extra degrees of separation,” explained Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth. “It’s not quite as easy to enforce as people would believe.” 

Under an emergency order issued last week by the Ingham County Health Department, essential service providers and businesses within the county must conduct brief health screenings of workers and enact a social distancing plan to help curb the virus’ spread. 

The Lansing State Journal also reports that as the pandemic continues, many local childcare centers are closing — leaving fewer and fewer options for residents near Greater Lansing. 

Today, Jersey Giant will donate 200 sub sandwiches to staff at McLaren Greater Lansing and Sparrow Health System. Said Britt Slocum, owner of Jersey Giant in Delta Township and Grand Ledge: “They are giving their all to us, so why not give what we can for them?” 

The Islamic Society of Greater Lansing and Care Free Medical will provide free boxed lunches, catered by Sultan’s Mediterranean Cuisine, tomorrow from 12-1 p.m. at the Care Free Medical Parking Lot, 1100 W. Saginaw St. 

Lansing City Councilman Brandon Betz is encouraging tenants in Lansing that are facing economic and health crises to join the newly formed Lansing Tenants Union. The goal: Build solidarity among residents and fight for stronger tenant protections in the city.  

In business news …  

Attorney General Dana Nessel shot down yesterday a request from Joann Fabric and Crafts to remain open to the public, instead only allowing online orders to be picked up at the curb. Nessel said. Joann executives argued that the company sells materials that customers can use to make masks. But Nessel said the materials could be ordered on the company website.  

Her administration is also warning residents to stay vigilant over possible federal stimulus check scams, cautioning that personal financial information should not be given over the phone. Officials also warned health department scams with phony COVID-19 testing sales.  

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation launched a new program today to provide $1 million in grants to small manufacturers looking to retool and produce critical health and human service supplies. Grants range between $10,000 and $150,000 and will be given to companies that can quickly and effectively manufacture supplies for hospitals.  

A survey released today shows Michigan restaurants have lost at least $491 million in sales and 72,000 jobs in the first 22 days of March alone, according to reports in the Detroit Free Press.  

Michigan’s unemployment system was down for nearly two hours yesterday as the office fielded more claims than in the Great Recession amid business shutdowns, reports the Detroit News. The site was back online just before 1 p.m. and had not experienced any further outages.  

Ford Motor Co. confirmed yesterday that it plans to postpone restarting its automobile production in North America, reports the Detroit Free Press. The operational outlook at General Motors and Fiat Chrysler still remained relatively uncertain as of yesterday afternoon.  

Dozens of Consumers Energy staff will be sequestered in campers and hotels for several days starting today to protect them from contracting COVID-19, reports the Detroit Free Press.  

The Detroit Free Press also reports a grassroot group of Whole Foods workers are calling for a nationwide sickout to pressure its owner, Amazon, for better benefits and safety standards.  

Amazon workers at a distribution center in Romulus walked off their jobs today in response to the company’s failure to fully protect the health of its employees, reports the Detroit Free Press.  

Kroger announced today that it will hand out another one-time, hourly “hero bonus” of $2 to frontline workers in the first half of April, reports the Detroit Free Press. Kroger is still hiring.  

 More than 2,000 Michigan companies are still hiring amid the pandemic. Those jobs are in logistics, health care, manufacturing and agribusiness. Visit mitalent.org for more details.  

In other news… 

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reminding residents today — National Census Day — of the importance of completing the 2020 U.S. Census. As of today, residents can respond online or by phone or continue to use the traditional paper form. In May, census takers will follow up with households that haven’t turned in a response. 

Commercial and public TV stations in Detroit are teaming up to produce a live town hall meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, reports the Detroit Free Press. It’ll broadcast tomorrow from 7-8 p.m. and give viewers a chance to ask questions. 

Whitmer could also sign an executive order this week that will close public and private K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year, according to reports in Bridge Magazine. Top state officials have labeled it “sloppy reporting,” noting no decisions have been made on the topic.  

Michigan requested yesterday hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine from the Strategic National Stockpile for patients with COVID-19 after several hospitals throughout the state started using the drug “off label” to treat the virus, reports the Detroit News.  

The University of Michigan announced yesterday it plans to convert its indoor track into hospital space and convert other areas in its health system — including student dormitories — to handle a surge of more coronavirus patients, according to reports in the Detroit Free Press.  

As some hospitals in West Michigan expect to reach capacity by May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction yesterday at the TCF Center in Detroit to create a quarantined hospital setting with 1,000 beds as the pandemic surges statewide, reports the Detroit News.  

Whitmer said about 20 members of the Michigan National Guard will continue to assist FEMA with logistics support to establish a Federal Medical Station at the TCF Center today. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is still asking doctors, nurses and other medical staff to go to the “front lines” of the coronavirus pandemic to staff the TCF Center. Details can be found at michigan.gov/fightcovid19. The state is also seeking donations for more medical equipment.  

Eric Esshaki, a Republican U.S. House candidate, said Whitmer’s stay-at-home order has made it impossible to gather the petition signatures needed to get on the ballot, reports the Detroit News. He filed a federal lawsuit yesterday to formally challenge the signature requirement.  

The state Department of Natural Resources yesterday shut down the Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County after officials observed an influx of guests needlessly ignoring social distancing recommendations. Officials warned that additional recreation areas could close.  

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at michigan.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.  

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