Whitmer: State at ‘turning point’ in COVID-19 case growth

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state is at a “turning point” in its fight against a second surge in COVID-19 cases, with new cases increasing a rate of more than 20 cases per 1 million people a day in Detroit, Kalamazoo, Jackson and some Upper Peninsula regions.

Whitmer noted that the continued operation of businesses and in-person instruction in the fall depend on the state’s success in controlling that growth. She noted, for many schools, the start of the year is Sept. 8, 55 days away. 

“It is incumbent on all Michiganders to do our part,” Whitmer said. “…This is what’s at stake if we want to keep our kids back in school and keep our economy engaged.”

The state uses cases per million as a gauge to determine risk when assessing reopening plans, Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said. The Center for American Process in “A National and State Plan to End the Coronavirus Crisis” noted rates below 20 cases per 1 million people as a relatively safe level to allow for the lifting of stay-home orders.

Whitmer urged residents to wear masks alongside Michigan State University women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant, University of Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Arico and MSU men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo. 

Each of the coaches urged residents to “mask up.”

“We need to make better decisions than we’ve made,” Izzo said. “…Listen to the leadership.”

The governor’s message came a day after Whitmer extended the state of emergency through Aug. 11 citing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. 

The nearly month-long emergency extension issued Tuesday came as Michigan confirmed 584 new cases of the virus, six deaths linked to it and a 21% uptick in COVID-related hospitalizations compared to a week ago. The percentage increase represents a hike from 342 to 415. 

Michigan’s added cases Tuesday pushed the statewide total more than 70,000.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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