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In issuing today’s order for residents to stay home and non-essential businesses to close, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer seeks to give hospitals a better chance to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor said in an address late this morning to announce the executive order that the number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan doubled over the weekend to 1,232 cases from zero cases 13 days ago.
One model anticipates “that if we stay on our current trajectory,” Michigan will become “just like Italy” and 70 percent of the state’s 10 million residents could get infected and 1 million would require hospitalization, Whitmer said.
“This virus is spreading exponentially,” she said, noting that Michigan has 25,000 acute care hospital beds.
“The only tool we have to fight it at the moment and to support our health care system to respond is to give them the opportunity by buying some time,” Whitmer said. “That’s where we are headed currently, so stopping the spread of the virus is really the most important tool that we have right now to keep our communities safe. Without additional aggressive measures, soon hospitals will be overwhelmed, and we currently don’t even have enough beds, masks, gowns and ventilators.
“But if we all do our part and simply stay home, we have a shot in helping our health care system meet our needs because this disease can’t spread person to person if we’re not out there.”
Hospitals across the state have been activating emergency plans, postponing non-emergency or non-urgent surgeries, procedures and patient visits, and exploring other ways to add capacity.
Several hospitals have appealed for donations of protective gear, supplies and equipment. Under the governor’s order, people are still permitted to leave their homes to provide emergency volunteer services, including the delivery of personal protective equipment donations.
“We agree with the governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order issued today and thank her for her continued leadership,” the Michigan Health & Hospital Association said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to protect health care workers and to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our hospitals don’t become completely overwhelmed. If you need health care services, please do not go to a hospital without calling your provider or the hospital first.”
Whitmer said the state has been able to procure more than 4 million gloves and masks and “thousands of gallons of hand sanitizers thanks to Michigan businesses, Michigan companies, Michigan distilleries, and Michiganders who are pitching in, and while that’s a source of pride, it is nowhere near enough.”
“Now is the most crucial time for us to come together to protect ourselves and our families. We must work together to bend the curve. We need to do more to curtail community spread so oru health system has a fighting chance,” Whitmer said.
The governor’s stay-at-home order does not directly affect hospital staff, “who continue to provide their essential services on behalf of our community,” said Dr. Raki Pai, president of the medical group and chief population health officer at Metro Health-University of Michigan Health.
“We appreciate the objective of the order — to suppress a surge of new cases of COVID-19 for as long as possible. Countries that have issued shelter in place orders earlier, committed to broad based COVID-19 testing, and aggressive social distancing measures, have had better outcomes in combating this virus,” Pai said in a statement to MiBiz. “We also recognize the inconvenience and burden these restrictions place on many businesses and workers in our community. Our hope is the same as everyone’s: That by taking strong, decisive action now we can limit the effects of this disease and return to normal as soon as possible. This is going to take cooperative, innovative and caring solutions, and remembering that we are all in this together.”