(This story was updated at 3:20 p.m.)
WEDNESDAY, April 8 — Another 1,376 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 114 deaths were reported in Michigan this afternoon. And another 29 cases were detected across Greater Lansing, including additional deaths reported in both Eaton and Ingham counties.
At least six Greater Lansing residents have died after contracting the virus, with deaths now reported in 42 counties in Michigan and at least one confirmed case tracked in every county.
Here are the latest statistics from earlier this afternoon, with percent changes from yesterday:
Cases — 20,346 (+7.2%)
Deaths — 959 (+13.5%)
Cases — 205(+7.3%)
Deaths — 2
Cases — 67(+9.8%)
Deaths — 3
Cases — 82 (+12.3%)
Deaths — 1
State officials announced this week that at least 24% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have been hospitalized, with about 9% of cases requiring ventilators. And about 89% of those requiring hospitalization are in southeast Michigan, according to still-incomplete state data.
In Ingham County, officials reported yesterday that 14% of confirmed cases have required hospitalization, with about 12% fully recovered and 8% making their recoveries at home. The rest remain in “active monitoring” and have been comparatively mild cases, officials reported.
Ingham officials said locally confirmed cases include first responders and healthcare workers. Local hospitals have not released data about the infection rates among their local personnel.
According to state reports, about 80% of cases (and about 86% 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 40% of deaths. Caucasians accounted for 24% of cases and 30% of deaths; those of unknown race charted 35% of cases and 25% of deaths.
Ingham County officials reported yesterday that African Americans are three times as susceptible to COVID-19, partly due to a higher prevalence of underlying health conditions and inequitable social constructs that invariably lead to higher stress levels for black residents.
Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 395,011 cases of COVID-19 and 12,754 deaths in the U.S. The New York Times database, which is updated more frequently, listed more: At least 418,185 confirmed cases and 14,257 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.
As state lawmakers checked in yesterday morning at the Michigan State Capitol, extending a statewide emergency declaration by another 23 days, a sparse crowd of protesters also gathered on the front steps to call for an end to a statewide lockdown on all nonessential businesses.
“More will die from economic fallout than COVID-19,” read one sign on the Capitol steps. “Small business is essential” was painted on another banner. “Balance the risk!” another sign warned. Protesters — keeping a six-foot distance — also chanted: “All business is essential!”
Their collective goal: Reopen businesses across Michigan as soon as possible. Some signs bashed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for orders that demonstrators felt went too far and shut down too many businesses and services. “Freedom is our right,” according to another handmade sign.
And even as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths rises in Michigan, state lawmakers still took steps yesterday to eventually lift the state of emergency. A resolution passed through both chambers yesterday that could put an end to Michigan’s emergency declaration by April 30.
The state’s emergency declaration, which has essentially enabled Whitmer to rule by executive order, was set to expire today. And while Whitmer pushed for a 70-day extension, the Senate shot down the measure before sending a watered-down, 23-day version over to the House.
The Free Press reports that Senate Majority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, tried to extend the declaration through June 16 but the amendment failed and the shorter resolution passed both chambers without dissent. Some argued that 70 days was too long to allow without a review.
“We tried to extend the state of emergency for the full 70 days as requested, but at the end of the day this shortened time frame is what was in front of us for a vote," Ananich told the Free Press yesterday afternoon. “I wish the extension was longer, but we will continue to keep moving forward and doing our jobs just like millions of Americans are being asked to do.”
Some Democrats suggested that yesterday’s vote amounted to little more than political theater. A more recent disaster declaration was believed to have extended Whitmer’s executive powers through April 29 regardless. Whitmer said this week that it only provided a one-day extension.
Still, Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order remains in effect until at least April 13, though Whitmer also hinted this week toward issuing an extension sometime over the next week. The recent emergency extension ultimately grants her the authority to call those shots.
The House also failed to take up resolutions that would allow for virtual participation rather than forcing the Legislature to again meet to consider an extension of the order next month.
Last week, State Reps. Karen Whitsett and Tyrone Carter, both Detroit Democrats, tested positive for COVID-19. State Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, died from the virus last week. Still, the House failed to take up any resolutions that would’ve allowed for virtual voting.
House Democratic Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, called yesterday’s vote “both legally dubious and grossly insufficient,” criticizing the failure to take up any of her resolutions that could have allowed future, remote participation, according to reports in the Detroit News.
The House “had an opportunity to adopt rules that would allow us to meet safely and provide transparency, but that opportunity was missed when the Speaker (Lee) Chatfield chose not to take action on the remote participation resolution,” she told reporters at the Detroit News.
Kyle Melinn, the editor and vice president of MIRS News, like many others at the Capitol, wore a face mask and was asked a series of questions about potential flu-like symptoms before he could enter the building. He also said lawmakers appeared to be taking safeguards seriously.
On the frontlines…
Nurses at McLaren Greater Lansing are waiting for answers to requests for more protections, paid time off and hazard pay during the coronavirus outbreak as they push for safeguards that have been offered elsewhere, but apparently not in Lansing, reports the Lansing State Journal.
Meanwhile, two of Detroit’s largest hospital systems are reporting significant numbers of employees suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 infections, reports the Detroit News.
Whitmer signed an executive order yesterday to temporarily suspend requirements regarding licensing and regulation of emergency medical services, like ambulances. Under the order, state officials will no longer conduct any annual random inspections of life support vehicles.
The order also reduces staffing requirements for ambulances and further extends the expiration dates of all emergency medical services personnel licenses and certificates in cardiac support.
“Given the raid increase in Michiganders who require emergency medical treatment and the scarcity of medical supplies, it’s important that we give emergency medical services the ability to respond flexibly to these new challenges,” Whitmer explained in a recent press release.
Doctors, nurses and other medical staff are still being asked to go to the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic to staff the TCF Center, among other volunteer roles. Visit michigan.gov/fightcovid19 for details or to make a donation to help support the cause.
In other news…
East Lansing has suspended burn permits — both new and existing — for the open burning of yard waste and debris until further notice. This does not include gas or charcoal cooking grills. The stated goal: Reduce risks and let the city’s Fire Department focus on the COVID-19 crisis.
Attorney General Dana Nessel sent cease-and-desist letters yesterday to four online retailers on Amazon for selling products to Michigan residents in gross excess of their market price. Her office has fielded more than 3,000 price-gouging complaints over the last several weeks.
The state is reminding those that have lost their jobs and their healthcare coverage that low- and no-cost options are available through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. Consumers have 60 days after losing essential health coverage to apply during a special enrollment period.
The Michigan Public Service Commission is also urging homeowners and contractors to postpone any non-essential digging and excavation until Whitmer’s stay-home order expires.
The latest information is posted at michigan.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.
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