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Whitmer requesting federal funds, asks everyone to 'do their part'

gretchen whitmer coronavirus 032020.png
Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 17:32:20-04

DIMONDALE, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has requested federal funding to help the Michigan National Guard distribute food and supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Whitmer said rumors she is requesting martial law are unequivocally false, and she is not ordering residents to shelter in place at this time. Several other states, including California and Illinois, have asked residents to stay at home outside of essentials like groceries and medicine.

She said Michigan is not yet at the point where people need to shelter in place, but things are rapidly changing.

"I recognize not having plans to do something right now doesn't mean at some point we might have to take more aggressive action," Whitmer said. "We're clearly listening and paying attention to what other states are doing, we're sharing best practices, we're sharing medical advice and information to make informed decisions.

"And we're constantly monitoring because information is changing so rapidly. If and when we're in a position where we think that is an important next move, I will personally communicate that to the public. We are not there."

Whitmer acknowledged that this will be an immense challenge for this state, and things won't be easy and will take time.

"We must begin to prepare for the long-term economic challenges this crisis will bring," Whitmer said. "These challenges will be immense from unemployment to helping our businesses back on their feet to educating our children. It's not going to be easy and it's going to take time, but we've been through hard times before and we've come back.

"This will be a challenge, but we can come back when we work together. We'll come back stronger."

Health officials say the ability to test for coronavirus is expanding. State labs are processing about 300 per day, and with labs in hospitals that total is near 1,000 each day.

State officials said they are working with partners across the state to increase the number of labs able to perform testing and give those results to Michigan's database.

"There is no question that as a country, we started late when it comes to testing," Michigan Department of Health and Human Service Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. "And even though we are able to test now, there is no question that there are challenges with people being able to find a medical provider to actually perform the sample and there is a limited number of labs able to run those samples.

"We're working very closely with partners across the state to build that capacity as quickly as possible and find a simple way for people who need testing to get that done."

Part of those plans include a 24/7 hotline specifically for medical providers to expedite testing for people in need.

Even with expanded testing, Khaldun said the data available currently doesn't give the state the full scope of the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.

"That's why with Governor Whitmer's leadership, we are calling on everyone in the community to take these important health measures," Khaldun said.

Michigan's total cases surpassed 500 on Friday, and three of them have been fatal. West Michigan has 15 confirmed cases, the most recent being in Barry County.