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Whitmer updates state's COVID-19 response, reopening plans

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Posted at 11:21 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 17:22:31-04

(WXYZ) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer will provide an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the conference, Whitmer mourned the death of Morris Hood III, saying that he was a loyal friend and thoughtful adviser.

She wanted to remind residents that those in Michigan who have died due to COVID-19 aren't just numbers, they were real people.

"This should be a time for unity, not division," she said. "We must all continue to do our part to save lives."

Whitmer said the state cannot just "flip a switch" and resume life as it was beforehand. Instead, she said the state must turn the dial slowly and re-engage in a smart way.

She noted that the curve is flattening in Michigan, and said that the state was able to get to this point because of aggressive measures that were taken.

"If we had not taken the action that we did, more people would have died," she said.

Whitmer said the state has continued to ramp up testing, and noted that the percentage of positive cases have gone down. She said she is continuing to monitor data.

She warned that the state may have to pull back on reopening sectors of the economy if needed. Citing Dr. Anthony Fauci, she said reopening too quickly will trigger an outbreak that will not be able to be controlled.

She also cited a recent New York Times report stating that more Michiganders are going outside as the weather warms up. She warned that if this activity results in a spike, the state may have to take action to slow down.

"Every person doing their part could mean less time that we spend fighting this virus," she said. "We will have to stay disciplined."

On Wednesday, the state announced that 31,000, or nearly two-thirds, of state employees will take temporary layoff days through late July as the state confronts a budget shortfall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitmer announced that the state will participate in a federal “work share” program, allowing employees to work fewer hours but collect partial unemployment benefits to make up a portion of their lost wages. The furloughs — two layoff days per two-week pay period for non-managers — will start this Sunday and go through July 25.

The move will reportedly save the state up to $80 million.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

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