Gov. Whitmer announces free mask initiative, update on COVID-19 cases

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a news conference for Friday, August 14, 2020 to talk about the state's continuing response to COVID-19. 

During the news conference, she announced a new initiative that will provide 4 million face masks for free to groups vulnerable to COVID-19. You can read more about that here

She also took multiple questions on back-to-school concerns, reiterating that it's a decision that will best be made at a local level. 

"I think our task is to do the best that we can with the information that's available. What we recognize is that we have over 800 school districts in the state of Michigan and each district has their own challenges but also their own resources and opportunities. Some schools have a much bigger footprint where they are in an easier position of spacing kids out. Others have a built-in system that is already existing with regard to distance learning with regard to the use of technology. 

"And so a one-size-fits-all determination coming out of Lansing was really not the wisest way to proceed, and that's why we put together the task force who promulgated best practices depending on whether a region's in Phase 3, Phase 4 or Phase 5, and it's the school board's, in conjunction with their teachers and their teacher's unions, as well as the parents, that need to fashion what is going to make sense in a particular district," she said. You can hear her other comments on returning to school in the video player above. 

Gov. Whitmer was joined by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who gave more context to the number of daily cases the state has been seeing. 

Dr. Khaldun said Michigan saw a record in the past week, with testing hitting 38,000 in just one day. We are continuing to see a low level of deaths, which she said is a good sign.

"It's also important to note we're not only looking at one day of cases that are reported but trends over time. That's very important," she said.

Overall, Dr. Khaldun said Michigan's percent positive rate is continuing to decrease. The last week it is at about 3.2%, down from prior weeks' of 3.4% and 3.7%. But she said the percent positive rate and cases per million people per day are varying greatly by region.


Dr. Khaldun said the Detroit region is seeing about 50 cases per million people per day with a percent positive rate of about 4.1%. But then she took the time to break out certain areas in the Detroit metro region, as case rates are varying.

She said Detroit is seeing the lowest cases, at about 26 cases per million people per day with a 2.6% positive rate. Wayne, Monroe and Oakland counties all have over 40 cases per million people per day with a percent positive rate over 4%. And Macomb County has the highest cases - 82 cases per million people per day with a percent positive rate of 7.4%. Dr. Khaldun has said a 3% positive rate is the cut-off that's been determined to show that community spread isn't happening.


Similar to the Detroit region, Dr. Khaldun said the Saginaw region is seeing 50 cases per million people per day but with a percent positive rate of 3.7%.


Dr. Khaldun said these regions are at 30-40 cases per million people per day and have seen declining rates for the past 1-3 weeks with a percent positive rate just under 3%.


Dr. Khaldun said the Jackson region has just under 30 cases per million people per day with a percent positive rate just above 2%.


The Lansing and Traverse City regions are both under 20 cases per million people per day with percent positivity rates under 2%.