Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed concerns about a potential order to shelter-in-place or a call for martial law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said both of these claims are false.
Whitmer was also joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or MDHHS, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.
The governor continued to encourage hand washing, avoiding touching your face, coughing and sneezing into your upper arm and remaining six feet from others in public settings. Social distancing is also strongly encouraged.
Whitmer urged those who show symptoms to call their healthcare provider immediately.
Three COVID-19 deaths in Michigan
Cases of COVID-19 have risen to 549 within the state, including three deaths due to COVID-19 complications, according to the MDHHS. Cases span across 21 counties, with two deaths in Detroit and one in Wayne County.
Locally, Ingham County totals at seven cases of COVID-19, according to the MDHHS. Two unrelated MSU students have tested positive for COVID-19, both had a history of international travel.
Those most vulnerable to getting severely ill are those over the age of 60 and those with chronic medical conditions, Khaldun said. Individuals with these characteristics are strongly encouraged to stay home and avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.
Khaldun said the state lab has tripled its ability within the last week to test for positive COVID-19 samples. The lab is now able to test up to 300 samples in one day.
Several hospitals are also available to test for positive COVID-19 samples, including Henry Ford, Michigan Medicine, Beaumont Health and Sparrow Hospital.
Combined, about 1,000 tests can be performed a day, according to Khaldun.
"There is no question that as a country we started late when it comes to testing," Khaldun said. "And even though we're able to test now, there's 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 who are able to run those samples."
Khaldun also announced a hotline specifically for medical providers to expedite testing for patients, which will run 24/7.
Whitmer rejects 'martial law' and 'shelter in place' rumors
Whitmer addressed misinformation about martial law within Michigan. She said she has sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal funding for the use of the Michigan National Guard to distribute food and supplies to families and business affected by the pandemic in the state.
"I want to be very clear, there has been a lot of misinformation and rumors floating around. I'm asking for funding for our National Guardsmen and Guardswomen to help distribute food and supplies ...," Whitmer said. "I am not calling for Martial law. That is a rumor and that is false, and it is dangerous for people to foment fear."
Whitmer advised those with concerns about previous executive orders to visit Michigan.gov/coronavirus.
Whitmer also addressed concerns about orders for a shelter-in-place in Michigan.
"There was a lot of talk yesterday on social media, people that were stirring things up and creating anxiety and fear and anger based on nothing that was actually concrete ... I recognize that not having plans to do something right now doesn't mean that at some point we might have to take more aggressive action," Whitmer said. "... We are constantly monitoring because the information is changing so rapidly. If and when we are in a position where we think that it's an important next move, I will absolutely communicate that personally to the public. We are not there."
Further executive orders signed
Whitmer also announced additional actions taken in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Michigan, including expanding child care to healthcare workers and other essential workers, a temporary ban on evictions, a temporary ban on non-essential medical and dental procedures, further actions to prevent price-gouging and the announcement that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved a statewide economic injury disaster loan declaration.
Cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are expected to continue to rise.
"Today is March 20th. We should be watching Cassius Winston play his last March Madness or Juwan Howard complete his first season as head coach ... but instead we are at home. Some of us are working 24/7 and it's hard," Whitmer said. "We must keep our wits about us. Make smart choices, take care of our families and loved ones. And instead of focusing on what we can't control, ask yourself 'what can I control?' ... Every hand wash and every person who stays six feet from their peers could mean one less day of this crisis."