Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer submits disaster declaration request to Pres. Trump

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced she has submitted a disaster declaration to President Trump to address the state's outbreak of COVID-19 during an address Thursday morning from Lansing.

Whitmer announced the disaster declaration request a day after the Detroit Free Press reported FEMA said she had yet to request one for the state. A major disaster declaration increases funding from the federal government and brings other federal assistance from FEMA.

Whitmer explained that she waited to request the major disaster declaration because she wanted to make sure the request was done right. She also said Michigan's request was done based on what other states have received, which she said was not enough for those states to fight the virus.

"We wrote ours in a way that learned from other states," Whitmer said.

RELATED: Track Michigan coronavirus cases by county with this interactive map

The second reason for the delay in request, Whitmer said, is that her administration said it was more important Michigan residents stop communicating the disease.

"We know that our actions to get people in Michigan to stop communication of this disease amongst each other is the highest priority and that's where we spent our energy. The best thing we can do is mitigate spread through interaction and that's why we spent all our energies in that part first," Whitmer said.

This is Whitmer's first speech since Monday when she announced her statewide 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order that requires Michigan residents to stay home unless their work is essential or they need to leave the home for life-sustaining reasons, like going to the pharmacy or grocery store.

She reiterated that the best way to stop the spread is to stay indoors with their family. That does not mean you invite people over to your house. The order is that Michigan residents stay inside their own homes with their own families.

Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health also spoke during the address, saying this was a pivotal time when it comes to an outbreak. She said the state is seeing exponential growth in cases, primarily in Southeast Michigan.

Dr. Khaldun said the state has implemented a load balancing plan for hospitals, meaning hospitals outside of southeast Michigan are being asked to help area hospitals with the surge in patients.

Dr. Khaldun also said the state is still 'a couple weeks' away from the apex of cases in Michigan.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Since the first cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Michigan on March 10, Gov. Whitmer has declared a state emergency, closed all schools, prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people, restricted visits to hospitals and other facilities, closed public spaces such as theaters, bars, gyms and casinos, and limited restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders.  

Most recently, she's also issued a stay-home order. You can get details on what that means here

That was all in efforts to social distance and slow the spread of the virus. You can learn more about social distancing and flattening the curve in the video player above. 

RELATED: Social distancing: What to do and what not to do to slow the spread of COVID-19

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. 

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

Are you showing symptoms? Try Beaumont's virtual screening tool

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this story


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