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Increased testing reflects promising progress for Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a press briefing Friday afternoon (photo courtesy Whitmer's press secretary).

Amid a decision regarding pending litigation against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her exercise of power throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Whitmer held a press briefing to provide an update on the states efforts against COVID-19. 

As of Friday afternoon, there are 50,079 positive cases of COVID-19 with 4,825 deaths caused by the virus. Michigan’s testing capacity has drastically been increasing with a 37% jump in tests administered this past week compared to last. 

“Widespread testing will give us the confidence that we know where COVID-19 is and that we’re able to prevent more community spread,” Whitmer said, adding that the goal is to test 450,000 Michigan residents in the month of May. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy, said that the rate of rise in cases and deaths continues to diminish. 

On Wednesday, testing labs throughout Michigan reported more than 23,600 people were tested that day, far surpassing the goal of testing 15,000 per day, according to Khaldun, with a seven-day average of 14,200 tests administered in the last week. 

Khaldun advised people who need medical assistance for cases such as cancer, management of chronic diseases, and immunizations and vaccines reach out to their care providers to get their necessary treatment. 

“Things that were not urgent several weeks ago may now actually be,” she said.

While numbers are beginning to reflect positively on a flattening of the curve, Whitmer “implores” that people maintain safe social distancing measures like keeping six feet of physical distance while out in public, wearing a mask and regularly washing hands. 

“Don’t let your guard down and don’t stop being smart,” Whitmer advised. “The last thing any of us wants to do is to go back into a strict stay-at-home order.” 

Whitmer announced the Return to School advisory council that she has designated to address the K-12 education system in Michigan. Executive Order 2020-88 details the guidelines and parameters for this commission. 

“I recognize that making a plan to start the new school year is hard during times of normalcy,” Whitmer told reporters, ”during COVID-19 it’s so much harder. But while we’ve got a lot of uncertainty, we know that we can start the work and start preparing.” 

The council will be made up of nearly 21-25 members that are K-12 administrators, public health officials, educators and community stakeholders. Applications are now being accepted through Michigan.gov/appointments

“We’re going to come together as a state to ensure that our students, our families, and our educators and communities can plan for a safe, equitable, and effective return to school,” Whitmer said. “We’ll continue to listen to public health and to our education experts.”

The governor remains committed to helping and protecting Michiganders throughout this crisis. 

“I will not stop working around the clock to protect every single person living in this state – no matter who you are, where you come from, or what political party you subscribe to – we are all Michiganders first and the only way we’re going to get through this is together,” Whitmer said. 


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