Thursday News Hit: Layoffs hit the state, outbreaks devastate Detroit nursing homes and a Beaumont worker is turned away 4 times before dying

After smashing through local businesses and city and county governments, the COVID-19 hammer has now landed at the state. Facing a similar problem of lost revenue totaling in the billions, the state of Michigan announced plans to temporarily layoff employees throughout the government. Cuts will come from the state police, the state department, and the attorney general's office.

Like the City of Detroit and Wayne County before it, Michigan is in a $2.5 billion hole. The employees that are laid off will be automatically enrolled in the unemployment process for the next 10 days. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she and her executive staff would be taking pay cuts. Unfortunately, according to an economic forecaster from the University of Michigan, layoffs would save the state about $5 million - hardly a dent in the lost revenue.

Those workers will be added to an increasingly alarming number of jobless in Michigan. So far, a quarter of the state's entire workforce - over one million residents - have applied for unemployment in a month's time. While not one of the most populated states in the country, Michigan's rate of unemployment is one of the biggest. On top of that harsh reality is another jobs report from the U.S. Labor Department that's expected to be as grim as the last four. As of last week, more than 22 million Americans were no longer working.

That's the bad news. The slightly less bad news is since bottoming out at 576 new cases on Monday, the state has seen it's new coronavirus cases tick back up, reporting 999 new cases yesterday. It's still almost half from the state's peak reported in early April - a sign that one of the country's most restrictive stay-at-home measures is working. Whitmer said another shorter extension on the order will be necessary to build on the progress before the state begins lifting restrictions. If the lockdown is lifted too soon, it could lead to a second wave that would prove catastrophic to an already devastated economy.

"The data that we've seen in the past week has led me to believe that it's time to reevaluate the stay home, stay safe order," Whitmer said.

As eyes begin turning toward reversing the economic numbers from negative to positive, residents can anticipate a framework next week. 

Even with a simmering of new cases, localized outbreaks in Detroit nursing homes have proven deadly to the city. If Detroit residents were looking for a sign of things to come, they'd have to go back to late February and early March when a single nursing home led to a spike in cases more than 30 deaths in Washington State. 

Since arriving in Detroit, the city has administered 1,145 COVID-19 tests to 21 of the city's 26 nursing homes. Identifying 357 cases with an infection rate of 26%, the health department said more than a third of those people have died.

"This is where this crisis is going. This is where this war is going," said Mohammed Qazi, President and CEO of Ciena Healthcare which operates seven Detroit nursing homes.

To cushion the burden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent four clinicians to help with testing. Some nursing homes have also created specific COVID-19 units with different floors dedicated to caring specifically for positive cases.

The city's chief public health officer said physicians will finish testing every nursing home resident by the end of today.

Along with nursing home residents, physicians and nurses working the hospital's front lines are also some of the state's most vulnerable. One worker, a Beaumont employee who did blood draws is now among COVID-19's casualties - despite seeking help four times with her symptoms. 

Deborah Gatewood, an employee at the Farmington Hills hospital for 31 years began feeling sick in the third week of March and was sent home with a cough. Gatwood's daughter Kaila Corrothers said her mom was turned away multiple times from the ER, despite a rising fever and worsening symptoms. By the end of March, she died after developing bi-lateral pneumonia. 

"The fact that she got infected by doing the job she did for 31 years and she couldn't get taken care of by her own family, meaning Beaumont it’s sad," said Corrothers. "It is disheartening to say the least."

Daily Forecast

After a cold windy and precipitation-heavy week, warmer temperatures are heading for the weekend. Thursday will be cloudy with a few showers. 

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