Michigan COVID-19 cases reach 28,000 with 1,900 deaths

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan grew to 28,059 Wednesday with 1,921 deaths as state officials encouraged residents to "keep going" with social-distancing measures.

The state added 1,058 new cases and 153 new deaths in the daily report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Both daily totals were down from the 24-hour numbers reported Tuesday.

The number of new cases — 1,058 — was the third smallest daily total reported during April. Over the first four days of this week, the state has added 4,066 new cases, a 33% decrease from the number of cases added during the same period last week.

Coronavirus virus testing at the North entrance of Beaumont hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan on March 31, 2020.

But Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said a few days of data weren't enough to lift social-distancing restrictions that have banned public gatherings and required most residents to stay at home.

"A plateau does not mean that we are out of the woods,” Khaldun said.

The new numbers came Wednesday as a protest against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order drew hundreds of people to the Capitol. The protesters argued that the governor's newest order, which was issued on Thursday, went too far and they urged her to allow more workers to return to their jobs.

During an appearance on "The Third Hour of Today" on Wednesday morning, Whitmer defended her efforts, noting that Michigan is among the top states nationally for COVID-19 cases. She wants to prevent the virus from spreading further to health care workers who have to be out to do their jobs at hospitals, she said.

"We’ve got a unique crisis on our hands, and it demands a unique solution," Whitmer said during the "Today" interview.

Later in the day, during a press conference, Whitmer said residents needed to "keep going" with their social-distancing practices of staying six feet apart.

"Right now, I am just going to ask that you keep going," Whitmer said, "you keep doing your part.”

Dr. Mohammed Arsiwala, president of the Michigan State Medical Society, defended Whitmer's order in a statement. He said doctors and health care workers "are still in the middle of the battle to treat patients suffering from COVID-19 across Michigan."

"This cannot and will not go on forever," Arsiwala added. "We continue to work to put the needs of patients first while supporting physicians in protecting their personal health and the financial health of the many medical practices that have been shuttered during this time.”

Whitmer and Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, have said they're seeing signs of a flattening curve of cases in Michigan. The governor's current stay-at-home order is in place until April 30.

As of Friday, the state had reported 433 COVID-19 recoveries. These are individuals who tested positive and survived 30 days after the onset of their illness. The figure is updated once per week.

Of Michigan's confirmed cases, 78% are in Macomb,Oakland and Wayne counties. But now, 76 of the state's 83 counties — 91.5% — have at least one confirmed case, according to the state's data.