Michigan’s confirmed cases soar
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that people with principal symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus — a fever, atypical cough or unusual shortness of breath –î should stay home for a minimum of three days after the symptoms resolve.
Her order came hours before the state that has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 reported nearly 2,000 new infections, the largest single-day increase, and 62 additional deaths. Michigan had more than 12,700 confirmed cases and 479 deaths as of Friday.
The order applies to all residents who test positive or have at least one of the three main symptoms. They can leave for medical care and –î if delivery is not an option –î food, medicine and other life-sustaining supplies as long as they
wear a homemade mask or other face covering. Outdoor exercise also is allowed.
People should stay home until three days after their symptoms go away and until seven days since they first appeared.
Others who have had close contact with infected individuals or those displaying symptoms should remain home for 14 days since the last contact or the symptomatic person tests negative.
The order prohibits employers from firing or retaliating against employees if they or one of their close contacts have the disease or symptoms.
Most of the confirmed COVID-19 cases are in the Detroit area, with 80% in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The city had 3,550 cases and 117 deaths.
Detroit is about 80% black, and African Americans –î who make up 14% of the state population –make up 35% of cases statewide and 40% of deaths. The race in 34% of cases and 28% of deaths is listed as unknown.
Mayor Mike Duggan said the higher death rates among blacks is due to health care disparities between whites and African Americans.
Detroit Assistant Police Chief James White said officers will enforce state social-distancing restrictions, with special attention on city parks. Violators could face a $1,000 fine. Crews removed basketball hoops from more than a dozen parks where people had still been playing.
“We don’t want to be fining anybody. We can’t be having these gatherings,” said Duggan, adding that people should wear masks or scarfs in public.
Michigan State University plans to use a commercial oven to resterilize N95 masks that protect medical workers from the virus.
Dr. Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., the school’s executive vice president for health sciences, said the method will allow the reuse of the masks at a time of shortages at hospitals.
“Some are already at this point where they’re reusing the masks in ways that aren’t ultimately going to be safe. So, the key is there’s not enough. And this is a way to reliably make sure that the supply is maintained,” Beauchamp said.
Work decontaminating masks from local health care providers began this week at the school’s Food Processing and Innovation Center.
Staff retooled equipment to heat the masks so it kills viruses and bacteria. The masks then are sealed in individual bags and left to further decontaminate for three days before being returned. A test run confirmed the process was successful before any masks were given to health care workers.
“The early data on it says you can do it 20 times, perhaps more, but we’re going to start with that. But each time we’re going to test it to make sure that in no way have we compromised the integrity of these masks,” Beauchamp said.
State officials and business leaders launched a website to encourage and help small businesses to apply for the federal $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which began Friday and is on a first-come, first-served basis. It will give low-interest loans that will be fully or partially forgiven if small businesses show that the money was used to retain or rehire employees and pay expenses such as rent or utilities through June 30.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and the Paycheck Protection Program is a lifeline,” said Small Business Association of Michigan President Brian Calley.
GRAND RAPIDS TO HELP
Spectrum Health, which has 15 hospitals in western Michigan, said it will accept the transfer of a limited number of COVID-19 patients from metro Detroit to two hospitals in Grand Rapids. Spokeswoman Susan Krieger said Spectrum anticipates the surge in southeast Michigan declining “as we increase our patient load and may need hospitals there to help us in a similar way. … We are all in this together.”
Householder reported from Canton Township and Williams reported from West Bloomfield.