Governor Whitmer Announces Protections For Nursing Homes, Businesses as Michigan Flattens The COVID-19 Curve

Khaldun: At least 23% of Michigan's COVID-19 deaths are nursing home patients

WWJ News
May 29, 2020 - 8:22 pm
Gov. Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun (State of Michigan)

(WWJ) Governor Gretchen Whitmer said during Friday’s press conference she is “cautiously optimistic” that other parts of Michigan, in addition to the Upper Peninsula and the Northern Lower Peninsula, will be able to move into the next phase of re-opening in the coming days.

This comes as the state announces 607 new cases of COVID-19, and 34 deaths among people who tested positive for the virus. Despite a slight uptick in cases since Thursday, both Governor Whitmer and Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said all the numbers are trending in the right direction.

Dr. Khaldun said the percentage of daily positive tests each day has averaged about 4% for the past week.

“This is very good news,” Dr. Khaldun said.

She added the State of Michigan has reached its goal of a seven-day average of 15,000 tests per day.

23% of Michigan’s total deaths are nursing home patients, according Khaldun. She said that percentage will be “likely even higher” as reporting steps up.  

“These deaths are incredibly heartbreaking, and we take this very seriously,” Khaldun said. “we must do everything we can to ensure our elderly are protected from the virus and are receiving the absolute best medical care.”

Michigan State Police and local health departments are joining forces to “expedite” testing in nursing homes, Khaldun said.

Infection prevention and assessment teams (I-PRAT) have worked with nearly 300 nursing facilities across the state so far on public health awareness including: proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE), screening residents and staff for COVID-19 symptoms, and isolation practices for people who tested positive for COVID-19.  

Meantime; Governor Whitmer announced plans to protect employees and businesses as Michigan begins to reopen its economy.  

“As we have begun to phase in sectors of our economy, my number one priority has been doing so in a way that protects workers, customers and their families,” Governor Whitmer said.

She said she’s initiated “several measures” to train employers on workplace infection control procedures, proper use of PPE, social distancing practices, and steps workers must take to notify employers of COVID-19 symptoms or a suspected diagnosis.

Michigan’s Workshare Benefit Program will be a critical part of helping businesses get back on their feet, according to Whitmer.

“The Workshare Program benefits both employees and Michigan businesses…and we hope our employers will take full advantage of it. The workshare program helps employers bring back employees from unemployment, and restart their operations,” Whitmer said.

Under the program; employees who have seen their hours reduced are eligible for state employment benefits, and the $600 weekly payment in federal unemployment pandemic compensation through the CARES Act until the end of July. 

“This gives flexibility to employers who are not able to operate at 100% capacity to retain their skilled workforce, while saving costs in their payroll. This also allows employees to keep their jobs and to collect some unemployment for the hours they’ve lost,” Whitmer said.

The Safer at Home Order remains in effect until June 12. However; a long list of services has come back online this week.

This includes dental, non-essential medical and veterinary services; retail by appointment, and scheduled visits to auto showrooms. 12 Oaks Mall, Great Lakes Crossing, and The Somerset Collection have all reopened their doors, but only a fraction of the stores are currently open for business. 

Governor Whitmer said there is much reason to be hopeful.

“Our actions are working, our case numbers are dropping, and we’re working through our plan for a real engagement of our economy in a way that protects our people,” Whitmer said. “There is no question there is more work to do, and we all must keep doing our part.”