Gov. Whitmer announces statewide closure of all K-12 schools until April 5

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered the closure of all K-12 school buildings, public, private, and boarding, to students starting Monday, March 16 until Sunday, April 5 in an effort to slow the outbreak of COVID-19. School buildings are scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 6. 
 
As of Thursday night, the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan is 12. Whitmer held a news conference at 11 p.m. to speak about the school closing mandate. Watch it below or mobile users go here.

"I am ordering the closure of all K-12 school buildings in Michigan for three weeks starting Monday, March 16 until Sunday, April 5. This is not a decision that I make lightly. A lot of districts have taken action and already closed themselves. This we feel is a necessary step to protect kids, and teachers and families and our overall public health," Whitmer said in a press conference. "I believe school employees should continue to get paid as though schools are still in session.

"I know this will be a tough time for our parents and educators. I urge businesses to do everything they can to support employees at this time. Some parents will need to stay home with their children, not every parent will be able to do so. Not every parent has paid leave but I think they should. Some businesses must step up and provide help if their employees need it. 

"We are doing everything we can to make sure our families have the support they need during school building closures. We are working with our local school districts to provide guidance and help children who need it to access food during this time. Our number one priority is keeping our families safe and healthy and mitigating the spread of this virus.

"Please do your part, make smart choices during this time. Even if you are healthy and feel asymptomatic, you can, unknowingly, be carrying and spreading the virus. Assume that you are, and take these orders seriously, to keep yourself and your loved ones, your co-workers and people at risk of serious illness (safe). There are easy things that every one of us can do to lower risk in our state.

"Wash your hands often with soap and water and vigorously scrub them for 20 seconds. Practice touching your face less often. Replace handshakes with elbow bumps and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze."

Governors across the country, including Mike DeWine (R-OH), Andy Beshear (D-KY), and Larry Hogan (R-MD), have taken similar steps to close schools and ensure the protection of children and families in their states. 
 
“Closing our school buildings is the smart thing and the right thing to do for the public’s health,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “These actions will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. I will continue to work with Governor Whitmer and our four COVID-19 task forces to ensure we protect our children, our families, and our communities.”  

Friday, the Oakland County Health Division released a list of potential exposure sites relating to its three current patients. You can see that list here
 
RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

Whitmer's statement was followed by a wave of business closures, sporting event suspensions.

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