Michigan leaders give message of COVID hope during virtual town hall

Top officials in Michigan joined Monday evening for a virtual town hall to talk about COVID-19 updates on federal, state, and local levels in Michigan. 

“We have made progress in Michigan when we have listened to the advice of experts," said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. And the experts here say now is the time to double down the efforts because Michigan’s top health official says it's working. 

“I've got some good news, is that over the past week or so we have seen a little bit of a decline across the state when it comes to cases," said the state's medical director Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. The decline is particularly in demographics that were hit hard early on. 

“Black folks, to give you a comparison from the early stat, have gone from 40% of the deaths to less than 10%, and 38% of the infections to less than 8%. That's because the people of Michigan, Black folks in communities of color and in Wayne County and other parts of the state have done their part and we're just asking that people continue to stay vigilant," Gilchrist said. 

That vigilance is key, these leaders say, especially as pandemic fatigue sets in. But with vaccines on the way there is reason for optimism. 

“Vaccines are on the way. 2021 is going to be a much better year than 2020 was. All we have to do is kind of hunker down, wear our mask, maintain our distance and good things are coming," Dr. Khaldun said. 

“If we can double down on what we know works in these next two months, we will save lives and we will be in a much stronger position as vaccines come available," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

But hunkering down is easier said than done these days with businesses taking hit after hit, waiting to see if another stimulus package will come. 

“I’m not leaving until we do something, so, stay tuned," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell

“Also here at the state level, I've asked legislative leadership to pass a $100 million COVID relief plan. It’s crucial that we come together and get this done but we're focused on small businesses that have been hit hardest by this pandemic," Whitmer said. 

Until then, these leaders all say light is at the end of this dark tunnel. The trick is hanging on until it arrives. 

“We are past the time of going around telling people what they need to do to stay safe. They know what they need to do; now we need to continue to do it," said Wayne County Executive Warren Evans. 

As far as what state leaders are focused on coming into this winter, building trust that the vaccines will work but that only happens if people are willing to take it.