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Governor activates State Emergency Operations Center to address COVID-19

Michigan prepares to combat coronavirus
Posted at 8:17 AM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 16:39:08-05

WINDSOR CHARTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Governor Whitmer activated the state's emergency operations center today, as the state tries to get ahead of the coronavirus outbreak.

So far, Michigan hasn't had a case of coronavirus. Previous possible cases tested negative, and the governor's office says they're trying to keep it that way.

"We encourage you to take care of one another, talk to one another, educate one another," Whitmer said.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical officer said, "We know that there's currently not a vaccine or an antiviral treatment for this disease. Given that we know it is likely we will see more cases in the US, we must do everything we can and use all the public tools we have to slow the spread."

Whitmer says state labs are now prepared to test for coronavirus and get results back within four hours, instead of having to send samples to the Centers for Disease Control.

Professor Douglas Graham said, "That's good to hear that we have that capacity in-house to save critical hours and days."

Graham, who teaches biomedical sciences at Grand Valley State University, says planning and timing is critical having worked at the CDC in 2003 during the SARS pandemic.

"I remember the Chinese authorities being very reluctant to even acknowledge that there was a problem or invite outside expertise to help them," he recalled.

He says it appears the Chinese government learned from that, although today's strand of coronavirus still managed to make its way to the west.
The state says to date, more than 82,000 people are confirmed to have been infected globally. There are just 15 confirmed cases in the US, so far.
Graham says it's important to be alert but not overly alarmed.

"This is a virus that can kill people, but so does influenza and a lot of other stuff. But just approach this with open eyes, educate yourself, and don't panic," Graham said.

Also at the meeting, Michigan's adjutant general says the Department of Defense asked for Fort Custer to prepare a space where those infected can be quarantined. That's if it comes to that.

As for clean hygiene, Whitmer says wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and instead of shaking hands she suggests fist bumps or elbow bumps.