LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials emphasized Thursday
"This is the worst week of COVID we've ever had," Whitmer said.
The governor said that while she hopes the state Legislature could take bipartisan action to help fight the virus, she's not waiting for the Legislature.
"We may be facing some dire circumstances soon," Whitmer said. "It may be necessary to take some quick action."
She said there's "no question" that the state will have to additional steps to control the virus if numbers continue on the trajectory they have been on.
The news conference comes as COVID-19 cases and deaths have been surging across the state, with record case counts regularly being reported.
Thursday, for example, saw a record 6,940 cases reported, as well as 45 more deaths.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for MDHHS, says these numbers mean the state doesn't have enough contact tracers to properly investigate every case, and it's getting harder for Michiganders to get tested.
"There's no area of the state that is spared," Khladun said. "The Upper Peninsula, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Saginaw regions all have case rates between 497 and 653 cases per million, and over 10 percent of tests done in those regions are coming back positive."
Officials are particularly worried about upcoming holidays and their potential for gatherings.
They discouraged gatherings between individuals from different households, saying they "exponentially" increase the risk of getting the virus.
"The winter holidays simply cannot be the same this year," Khaldun said.
Those who must travel, Khaldun said, need to do everything they can to prevent getting the virus before visiting their families.
This means avoiding social gatherings, wearing masks and not leaving home unless absolutely necessary for 14 days before travel.
Individuals also should not have physical contact with anyone they do not live with - so no hugging others during the holidays.
"If you're smart now, you may be able to have a nice holiday with your loved ones, alive, at this time next year," Khaldun said.
Whitmer said that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and we won't have to act this way forever, but must all do our part until that time comes.
State health leaders also spoke earlier Thursday to bring attention to the "alarming" rate at which hospitals have been filling up with COVID-19 patients.