LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) — Just hours after a meeting with White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave updates on the State of Michigan’s response to COVID-19.
The main focus of these updates were the unveiling of new coronavirus testing centers, the donation of masks by General Motors and a lending initiative by Huntington designed to support small businesses.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be opening 12 neighborhood testing sites this week and 20 across the state in the near future. The centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and testing will be free.
Three sites have started testing already in Detroit, which remains the Michigan city with the most COVID-19 infections.
Governor Whitmer said of the testing, “This is an incredibly important tool, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure Michiganders have access to it.”
On the financial front Governor Whitmer said, “Our small businesses need help.”
To address the situation Huntington Bank will be offering new loans designed to help small businesses. The Bank has made a $5 billion dollar commitment to Michigan communities.
Officials from Huntington say they will ensure small business have access to capital via investing to small businesses, with a focus on those owned by minorities, women and veterans. Lending programs will also be expanded across Michigan for low to moderate home loans to help with affordable housing.
During the press conference Governor Whitmer also announced that General Motors would be donating 2 million masks to help communities for the return to school.
“Until there’s a vaccine it is absolutely essential that we all continue to mask up,” Whitmer said. “It is singularly the best tool that we have to fight COVID-19, and we want to make sure everyone in our state has access to a mask.”
GM is donating 750,000 child sized masks, expected to arrive September 14 or 15, and 1.25 million adult-sized masks for high school students and staff.
When it came to sports the Governor headed off questions from the press.
“I know Michiganders, me included, like sports,” the Governor said, “When it comes to COVID-19, we all have to be on the same team.”
Governor Whitmer expressed her conviction that, based on the available information, COVID-19 is still a danger to athletes and spectators, although she stopped short of making an official policy change.
“I will have more to stay on this topic very soon,” she said.
The Governor added, “We will be making some determinations in the very near future.”