Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a request to President Donald Trump asking for a major disaster declaration for the state.
She made the announcement during an 11 a.m. press conference on March 26 where she said the State of Michigan has secured more than 13 million N95 masks, 226,000 surgical masks, 35,000 hospital gowns, more than 4 million gloves, nearly 100,000 face shields, 250 ventilators, and hand sanitizer to be distributed to hospitals and medical staff.
This as Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive with the MDHHS, said the state is rolling out a load balancing plan for hospitals. As part of the plan, hospitals outside of the hard-hit southeast part of Michigan are being asked to serve as relief hospitals. They would use 10 percent of their capacity to help hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Some hospitals have already stepped up and started the process, although it’s not clear which hospitals are part of it.
Henry Ford Health System said it had nearly 400 coronavirus-related patients at five hospitals Thursday morning, although the numbers can swiftly change.
The state is also exploring possible use of alternative sites, Khaldun said. While no locations have been named, officials are working to develop and implement a plan if needed.
According to Gov. Whitmer, Michigan is the state with the 5th highest number of positive cases in the country.
As of Wednesday afternoon there were 2,294 positive COVID-19 cases reported in the state with 43 deaths.
“We’re still in the upslope when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” Khaldun said.
During the press conference Gov. Whitmer again pleaded with Michigan residents to stay at home to rein in the coronavirus. “It doesn't mean inviting 10 of your closest friends over for dinner. ... This disease cannot spread if we’re not out and about,” she said.
The governor said the “vast majority” of businesses have closed. “If you are a landscaper, if you are a florist, if you are (in) home construction — none of those are life-sustaining businesses that should be open,” Whitmer said.
“We’ve seen an incredible amount of strength and courage of Michiganders during this time of uncertainty, whether it’s from communities donating food, money, and resources to those that need it or from teachers finding new and creative ways to reach out to their students,” said Governor Whitmer. “While the people and businesses of the great State of Michigan have shown incredible resilience and cooperation throughout this difficult time, we cannot weather this storm alone. I am hopeful that the president will grant my request for a major disaster declaration in full and within a matter of days so we can provide more services to Michiganders who need them.”
The programs the governor requested to assist Michiganders during this time include, but are not limited to the following categories of individual assistance: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Crisis Counseling, Disaster Case Management, Individuals and Households Program, Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disaster Legal Services, and Voluntary Agency Coordination. If approved, these programs would provide direct assistance to Michiganders through state, tribal, and local partnerships with FEMA other agencies.
The governor also requested critical public assistance programs like Debris Removal, Emergency Protective Measures, Roads and Bridges, Water Control Facilities, Buildings and Equipment, Utilities, and Parks, Recreation, and Other Facilities. The strain on Michigan’s infrastructure during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has been great, and assistance is required to continue providing a safe and healthy Michigan for all.
Additionally, the governor requested Hazard Mitigation assistance to help provide relief during planning for recovery in the long-term, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated this state’s vulnerability to future pandemics. If granted, the governor plans to take the lessons learned from this virus and apply them prospectively.