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Whitmer, coaches urge everyone to wear masks

gretchen whitmer 08152020
Posted at 4:14 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 16:14:07-04

LANSING, Mich. — As Michigan reports 891 new coronavirus cases, the state's highest single-day case number since mid-May, coaches from the state's biggest universities and Michigan officials emphasized the importance of following public health guidelines like wearing masks and avoiding large crowds.

Suzy Merchant, coach of Michigan State University's women's basketball team, said preventing the spread of COVID-19 isn't a partisan or rivalry issue; it affects everyone.

"If we want our children in school this fall, we have to wear a mask," she said. "If we want to see college football this fall, we have to wear a mask."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that if everyone "masks up," students will be in school by this fall. But if the numbers continue on the trajectory they have been, the state will likely take steps back in its reopening plan.

"This [wearing a mask] has never been about punishing anyone," Whitmer said. "It's about protecting everyone."

Though the state has increased testing for the virus, the test positivity rate has also increased to 3.4%, and contact tracers haven't been able to find where every case comes from, officials said. That means the virus is spreading in the community.

The governor says she hopes numbers improve in time schools to start in-person instruction, but cannot give an answer about if that will happen until closer to the start date.

For those who are concerned about the economic impact of lockdowns, Whitmer said that lasting economic recovery will only be possible through public health recovery.

The state also continues to struggle with its contact tracing efforts, only reaching about 70 percent of individuals within 48 hours who may have come in contact with an infected person.

Watch the press conference here: