LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she anticipates an additional stay-at-home order next week.
After two weeks of a statewide executive order that residents stay in their homes and only leave for essential business, Whitmer said residents should expect a similar call to come in the following days.
"We are not close to the apex yet. We haven't hit that yet and until we do it is absolutely essential that we're continuing to be aggressive so I would anticipate an additional order probably in the next week," she said.
During a press conference Monday morning, the governor touted the increasing number of patient discharge rates reported by hospitals, a sign that she says the social distancing guidelines the state has established are working. However, the state is "running dangerously low" on personal protective equipment and that health care workers in Michigan need more supplies.
In less than three days, Beaumont Hospital will run out of N95 masks. In less than four days, Henry Ford Health Systems will as well. While the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) has a bigger buffer of 10 days, it's not enough.
"At all three health systems, there are less than three days until face shields run out and less than six days until surgical gowns run out," Whitmer said before adding, "I think it's important to note that while these timelines are very serious, they are a vast improvement from where we were just a week ago where we were living more like day-to-day."
Michigan has obtained a variety of PPE from the open market, as well as lots from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including:
- 400 ventilators
- 1.1 million surgical masks
- 232,000 face shields
- 2 million gloves
On the unemployment front, Whitmer said the number of people filing for benefits "outpaces any - even the toughest week in the great recession."
"The hardest week in the great recession for perspective was 77,000 claims. Two weeks prior to COVID-19 first presenting in Michigan, we were averaging around 5,000 claims per week," she said. "Now, since COVID-19 the week of March 15 to the 21st there were 127,000 new claims. The week of March 22nd through 28th, it was 300,000 new claims."
Following a busy week of new restrictions on public spaces and schools, state and public health officials are gearing up for what is expected to be one of Michigan's most brutal periods amid the COVID-19 spread. Last week, during an announcement that the school year for k-12 students was likely over, Whitmer warned the state's coronavirus outbreak peak was still more than a week away.
A model released by a health institute echoed that prediction, projecting the state will report its peak in resources around mid-April and over 3,000 deaths by May. So far 617 people have died from the coronavirus.
The governor's daily press conferences have become news-filled sessions where Whitmer touts gains made by cities and the state in mitigating the damage of COVID-19 while warning what residents could expect over the next few days. Last Thursday, she said barring any dramatic declines in the spread of the virus, the school year would be ending early and districts would be told to move their curriculums online.
One hot-button subject Whitmer is likely to address is an impending vote by the state legislature about how long her executive order declaration should remain in place. House leaders from the GOP and Democratic party have been at odds over an in-person vote that Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) has scheduled on Tuesday.
There's been some confusion over when Whitmer's emergency declaration, which has served as the basis for more than 30 executive orders, would end. While the governor has requested a 70-day extension for her declaration, Republican lawmakers have been wary about granting that much additional time.
Detroit lawmakers are arguing the in-person vote puts legislators in danger of possible exposure and they should be obeying social distancing guidelines established by the state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The majority of the Detroit caucus member, I would rest assure that most of them will not be driving up 96 to get to Lansing on Tuesday,” said Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit). “We’re going to be in our homes, with our families, talking to our staff, so that madness doesn’t break out in the city.”
However, in a memo put out by Chatfield was an extensive list of guidelines for how Tuesday's vote would go, including voting in small groups and a request of anyone showing symptoms to stay home.
Even with the precautions in place, lawmakers are still nervous. Last week, Rep. Isaac Robinson, a Democrat out of Detroit was the first state lawmaker to die from coronavirus-related illnesses.