LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Tuesday for the first time in about two weeks discussing the state’s continued response to COVID-19.
In her press conference, Whitmer called on the Trump administration and Congress to work on a bipartisan recovery package that will include support for state governments, frontline workers and small business owners.
The governor said the state needs money as the state of Michigan is facing a $3 billion shortfall. The state was able to fill the gaps in this year’s budget thanks to help from the federal government.
Whitmer said the latest proposal from the Senate doesn’t send another dime to the state. However, she said the House version does, saying it’s time for leaders to work together to get another relief package passed.
“Michigan is not the only state calling on them,” Whitmer said. “We need them as Americans to deliver for us. The House and the Senate need to get serious and come together to negotiate.”
Whitmer also called on President Donald Trump to issue a nationwide mask mandate, quoting the president’s tweet where he said wearing a mask is patriotic. She said it is now time to act on that patriotism.
As of Tuesday, state health officials reported 699 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 79,176 with 6,170 deaths. However, state health leaders said things are improving.
Although the state is still seeing more new cases of COVID-19 than in May, conditions are improving in the state. Most of the state is now in the medium-high risk for COVID-19. Grand Rapids moved out of the high-risk Tuesday and Lansing moved out of the high-risk category Friday.
The Traverse City area is at medium-risk, and the state says part of the reason for that is because contact tracing has greatly improved.
In Whitmer’s press conference, state health leaders said they’re hoping to continue improving contact tracing with a new texting service.
“Our public health staff will now be able to easily send you a text message to your phone if you’ve been potentially exposed so you can be expecting a call,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said. “The most important thing we want everyone to do is to answer their phone when public health staff is trying to call you.”
The state said it has met its testing goal in every region of the state, encouraging residents to get a test if they work outside home, have symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
In terms of what’s to come for schools in the fall, state leaders say it’s hard to finalize plans right now.
Earlier this week, the legislature introduced a bill requiring students in kindergarten through fifth grade to attend school in person.
The bill is part of the plan Republicans announced last month. School districts are now creating three different plans for different phases of economic reopening.
Whitmer said where the state will be when school starts is still a moving target.
“There’s not a perfect timeline for people to have a precise understanding that gives people notice,” Whitmer said. “We all have to remain nimble and that’s hard. I don’t like saying that.”
Whitmer said if the goal is to have schools reopen in September, then Michiganders need to keep wearing masks, social distancing and getting tested.
The governor also said the MHSAA is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to make guidelines for fall sports.
To view the PowerPoint the governor used in her press conference, click here.
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