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Governor Whitmer announces a three-week shutdown as COVID-19 cases surge to all-time high, GRCC to shift to remote learning

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer during Sunday's press conference, courtesy photo.

By Sabrina Edwards

On Sunday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a three-week emergency order to attempt to flatten the growing curve of COVID-19 cases. The order takes effect Wednesday Nov. 18 at 12:01 a.m.

This will close high schools, indoor dining, bars, as well as entertainment venues like casinos, bowling alleys, movie theaters, ice rinks, and group fitness classes. However, grades K-8 will be allowed to meet in-person while adhering to the social distancing guidelines and mask mandates.

“We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date,” said Whitmer during the press conference. “The situation has never been more dire. This is the worst public health emergency our nation has faced in over a century.”

Whitmer is calling for a collective action to combat the severity and length of the virus, citing that if nothing is done there could potentially be 1,000 people a week dying in Michigan due to COVID-19.

This order also limits all sporting events except professional and college sporting events, however they are not allowing spectators.

This order is going to hopefully limit indoor gatherings to flatten the curve and ease the burden of frontline workers. Whitmer is also hoping that the federal government steps in to aid those who are struggling due to the pandemic. 

“President Trump has an opportunity to meet the needs of the people of this country and extend life saving support to American everywhere,” said Whitmer.

Grand Rapids Community College sent out an email to students informing them of the switch to virtual learning. If students are enrolled in a health program or are a part of the first responder program they will still report to campus. Due to the change starting on Wednesday, classes will still be held in-person on Monday and Tuesday.

Once again, health officials are urging families to not gather for Thanksgiving and asking residents to celebrate within their own households, insisting that Michiganders need to make short-term sacrifices for a long-term gain.

Saturday, Michigan announced 251,813 total confirmed cases and 7,994 deaths. In the past seven days alone there were 44,019 confirmed cases. 

“By February 15, models predict, we could have as many as 20,000 additional deaths due to COVID-19 in Michigan,” said Dr Joneigh Khaldun. “If we do not act now there is no question that the next several months will be deadly and grim.”

Khaldun urged anyone who thinks they need a test to get tested to track the virus in an attempt to prevent the spread. That includes anyone who has symptoms or has been around someone who tested positive.

MDHHS director Robert Gordon asked people to follow in order to protect the people who are at risk in an attempt to prevent more effective measures. Citing that spread comes from indoor gatherings and settings where groups gather. If you are gathering, the order requires that masks be worn indoors and outdoors. Gordon does say if you’re going to gather with those not in your immediate household to limit it to one other household, not multiple households on different days.

“Hope is on the horizon, a vaccine will come, spring will come, this is not forever,” said Gordon. “What will be forever will be the deaths of loved ones if we do nothing.”

 

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