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Michigan medical exec: 'Very likely' COVID will be present at Thanksgiving gatherings

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun warned against holiday gatherings Thursday, saying residents should avoid having Thanksgiving with anyone outside of their own household.

Khaldun made the comments at a press conference with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a week before Thanksgiving as every region of the state experiences what she described as "alarming" infection rates and positivity rates in testing for the virus.

"Indoor gatherings are a major way that COVID-19 is spreading right now.” Khaldun said. “And at the rates we’re seeing in the state, it is very likely that if you are gathering for Thanksgiving, the virus will also be around the table."

State epidemiologist, Sarah Lyon-Callo, said this week that the exponential spread of the disease in Michigan has stressed the ability to test for the virus in Michigan.

"Michigan has had a rapid rise in hospitalizations and cases, and we're at 75% of our spring peak right now," Lyon-Callo said. "The positivity is increasing in all areas.

On Sunday, Whitmer announced a wide-ranging new order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to suspend in-person instruction at high schools and colleges and halt indoor dining at restaurants for three weeks.

The order, which took effect Wednesday, also closed movie theaters, bowling alleys and casinos. It limited indoor residential gatherings to two households at any one time ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Michigan shattered its weekly coronavirus case record last week with a total of 44,019 new cases reported, the fifth consecutive record week for confirmed infections.

As of Wednesday, the state has reported 277,806 COVID-19 cases and 8,190 deaths tied to the virus since March 10, when the first infections were disclosed. As of Friday, 138,862 Michigan residents were considered "recovered" from the coronavirus.

cmauger@detroitnews.com