'A dangerous moment': Whitmer sounds alarm with Michigan COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rising

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer COVID update
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a COVID-19 news conference on Oct. 21, 2020. Photo credit State of Michigan

(WWJ) “I’m just going to be frank: Our numbers are not good."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging Michiganders to mask up and take social distancing seriously with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths all on the rise over the last three weeks.

On Wednesday, state health officials reported 1,597 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as 33 deaths. Before Wednesday’s update, the 7-day moving average for new cases in Michigan was at 1,670 -- the highest ever.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state has recorded more than 30,000 new cases in last 30 days -- which is not a good sign. Looking at deaths: A month ago, health officials say Michigan had a seven-day average of about nine deaths per day. But, as of October 18, that number was 15.

“That’s why we are sounding the alarm bell right now,” Whitmer said. “These numbers are moving in the wrong direction. We’re at a dangerous moment where there’s the possibility of it just becoming community spread that becomes out of control.”

With that in mind, the governor is residents to stick to the mask rule and other COVID-19 safety orders designed to keep the virus from spreading. While Whitmer's orders struck down by the State Supreme Court that invalidated the law she used to enact them, they were re-issued by MDHHS.

If we can't turn things around. Whitmer worried Michigan is bound to see an "uncontrollable" increase like what they're dealing with in Wisconsin.

"We need to take this seriously," Whitmer stressed. "We need to double down on wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing,

These latest daily counts bring the totals for Michigan to 150,989 cases, since counting began back in March, and 1,597 deaths.

Overall, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for MDHHS, says the case rate in Michigan is 131 cases per million people per day -- which is over 80% more than the daily case rate was just a month ago. An average of more than 35,000 tests are being conducted daily, with a higher overall percent positive rate of 4.9%.

"That is an indication that we are seeing community spread across the state," Khaldun said.

Khaldun also said all regions of the state are seeing an increase in hospitalizations.

She said on average, 8% of all hospitalizations right now across Michigan are for COVID-19; with 58% of those hospitalizations outside of southeast Michigan.

So, what does this all mean?

Asked if there's a chance Michigan will need to lock some things down again to stop the virus from spreading, Whitmer didn't say yes or no.

While she would like to avoid another state shutdown, the governor said what happens next will depend on what residents do.

“We want people to know we’re watching these numbers very closely," Whitmer said.

“At this point, I don’t think that I can tell you precisely what the next week or the next two weeks look like. It depends on individuals right now, rising to this challenge," she added. "If you want your kids to have the prospect of in-person learning, if you want to stay back at work, if you want to keep your business open or make sure that businesses stay open, every one of us has to do our part."

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