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Small business help on the horizon

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overnor Gretchen Whitmer and Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun provided an update on COVID-19 in Michigan, courtesy photo

By Kory Goldsmith

Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference updating COVID-19 rates in Michigan and unveiling a grant program designed to assist small businesses. 

She began the press conference expressing hope that legislators on both the state and federal level pass a relief package that would help people who could see benefits run out at the end of this month.

She also announced the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative. The program is funded with $10 million in federal Care’s Act funding. This will give small businesses up to $15,000.

The application for a grant will be available starting Dec. 15 and will be a first come first serve basis. 

Whitmer is encouraging people not to travel during the Christmas holiday. She is echoing the same concerns of this past Thanksgiving, and asking Michiganders to celebrate within their own homes to decrease the spread of COVID-19. 

“I know everyone is tired,” Whitmer said. “Tired of this pandemic. Me too. We’ve been fighting this for a long time, but we have to be resilient enough to see this through. We’ve got to continue working together to eradicate this virus.” 

Whitmer also encouraged people to shop locally to support small businesses this holiday season giving loved ones a cool Michigan gift. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun was also in attendance with updates on cases as we’ve entered the month of December and with the Thanksgiving holiday behind us.

She gave an update of Monday’s cases of COVID-19, because Tuesday case numbers weren’t available. A couple hours after the press conference, Tuesday numbers were released. Michigan saw 5,793 new cases, 190 deaths, and a 14.72% positive rate. With 487 new cases, Kent County has exceeded 32,000 total cases and added nine more deaths.

Michigan yesterday exceeded 360,000 cases with the state death toll climbing to 9,134. Michigan has a case rate of 608 per million. This is a decline over the past couple weeks. Positivity rates are also showing a declining rate but it’s still higher than Khaldun would like to see.

Today’s case numbers do not include an anticipated surge  due to out-of-state Thanksgiving travel. Spread caused by holiday travel and socializing will take several days to measure. 

Whitmer couldn’t say if the three-week restrictions would be extended or not. She did say the subject will be discussed early next week.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat this,” Whitmer said. “The next couple of months are going to be hard.”