Gov. Whitmer: ‘We Don’t Have Enough Tests’
The chief nursing officer of Beaumont Health Systems, announced Michigan’s first death due to the coronavirus.
Health officials say the man had other underlying health issues.
The state has also announced there are now 110 confirmed cases in the state.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the state on Wednesday. In the Q&A portion of the address, she laid out the state’s priorities for who should get tested for the virus.
“We don’t have enough tests; we don’t have enough resources to process the tests just in terms of the ability to run them quick enough,” she said. “At this point, we are concerned about the system being overtaxed, and we’re also concerned about not having enough tests to do all of the tests that we believe are necessary. And I want to just expand on that for a minute because is very important that with the tests that we have—because we’re still waiting on the federal government to give us more—that we prioritize who those tests are being given to.”
Gov. Whitmer says that need to prioritize means if she started exhibiting signs of the illness, she would do what other younger, healthier, low-risk people are being advised to do.
“Yesterday, someone from the press estimate if I had been tested and I said no, I’m I am healthy I am exhibiting no signs,” she said. “I have had no known exposure with anyone who has…and if I somehow became aware that I had, I would do what I’ve been telling the public to do…stay at home, self-quarantine I don’t want to add a burden on to a healthcare system that I don’t need to.”
That saves the tests for those who need them.
“If I was a person with a medical vulnerability, or I was someone in the older age range that we know where this can be incredibly dangerous, I would want to get a test; if I had known some sort of exposure,” she said.
Here in Northern Michigan, cases have been confirmed in a Leelanau County man and an Otsego County man.
There is a woman from Charlevoix County with the virus, but she is being treated downstate.
Montcalm County declared a local state of emergency after a case was confirmed there.
The most cases are in Oakland County with 23 cases there.
For a full transcription of the Q&A portion of Gov. Whitmer’s address on Wednesday, see below:
Reporter: San Francisco has shelter in place, is that on the table for Michigan, and what were the possible timetable?
Whitmer: So, You’re really things are moving rapidly and we are making decisions on the best science events as we have them. There, you know could be a time that we might take that step what this juncture there’s nothing that I’m announcing on that front today or in the works.
I think that it’s important that we are mindful of what a challenge that will be if and when we get to that point and that’s part of the reason that I’m working so closely with the head of the state police our medical experts as well as the adjutant general and the international guard.
Reporter: When we start to see the results from private labs reported and included with the numbers from the state do you have any information at this point about how many are out there how many are negative how many are positive?
Whitmer: I’m going to say a few things and then I’m going to hand that question over to Dr. Kel do but here’s what I will say. We don’t have enough tests. We don’t have enough resources to process the tests just in terms of the ability to run them quick enough. We set up our own state lab, which I am so grateful we did that and grateful that Dr. Keldon pushed early to do that so that when we had our first cases we were able to run them in our own lab. But at this point, we are concerned about the system being overtaxed and we’re also concerned about not having enough tests to do all of the tests that we believe are necessary. And I want to just expand on that for a minute because is very important that with the test that we have because we’re still waiting on the federal government to give us more that we prioritize who those tests are being given to. Yesterday, someone from the press estimate if I had been tested and I said no, I’m I am healthy I am exhibiting no signs. I have had no known exposure with anyone who has COVID-19, and if I somehow became aware that I had, I would do what I’ve been telling the public to do which is stay at home, self-quarantine I don’t want to add a burden on to a healthcare system that I don’t need to.
If I was a person with a medical vulnerability or I was someone in the older age range that we know where this can be incredibly dangerous. I would want to get a test if I had known some sort of exposure and so I thought that that was a good question to highlight how a person should be analyzing this without the abundance of tests that we think we need and we should be able to rely on the federal government to provide. We really have to prioritize.
Reporter: Do you feel that the auto companies end up shutting down their plants soon enough and what kind of economic impact are you bracing for?
Whitmer: Well, I’m in clearly this is going to have an impact on our economy. I’ve been in close contact with the head of the UAW very gamble as well as the head of each of the big three. We know that they are grappling with a lot of the same challenges and questions that that we all are everyone who is responsible for a big workforce and a factory setting is a unique setting and that’s why I trust that this was the right judgment for each of the big three and I know that I it was for the UAW.
These are people work hard in the Backbone of the Michigan and the American economy. I know that this was an easy decision for them and that’s why it’s so critical that every one of us does our parts that we can get our economy back up and running at the quickest safest possible moment.
And the worst thing that we can do is not to follow the CDC recommendations and obey the orders that I’ve had to issue and have people out there continuing to congregate and plot what we know to be the best science. People need to take this seriously. We had someone die today because of COVID-19.
There are other people that have been diagnosed that are fighting for their lives.
Everyone needs to be a part of solving this so that the UAW and the big three can get up and running against that we can get our kids back in school so that we can get our small businesses open again, but the fact of the matter is in this moment the science and the best practices and the health of our people dictates that we take these aggressive actions and I’m grateful that they were able to come together on that but I am concerned of course about the long-term impact on the Michigan economy, but we got to do the right thing because it would have much more severe economic consequences of.
Reporter: Governor, about the impact on the unemployment trust fund, you think that it’s situated to be able to handle whatever is going to get, you know, diverted from there?
Whitmer: Well, that’s why I’m glad that the at the federal level they moved the family’s first legislation the second supplemental I extended unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks so that when this kind of action happens on the federal level that we’re able to drive down the maximum support for people who are unemployed in the circumstance.
It was an incredibly important thing. To do for the people of our state and I am. Determined to continue to execute executive orders so long as it is something that is supported by what is in the best interests of our state. So with regard to the unemployment insurance the fund I’m closely working with the state budget office the treasurer’s office and the Department of Labor Economic Opportunity in the MEDC so that we are making thoughtful decisions that can help the most people in this time.
Reporter: Do you know if it’s if it’s equipped to handle it at this juncture, or is that just an unknown?
Whitmer: Well, I think you know at this point so many things are changing at such a random pace, you know, it is a fluid situation at this juncture assessment would be yes, but a week ago we were standing here with two cases and now we are well above 100 cases and so we’ve been working incredibly hard to martial all the resources that we can to support people most tough time.
Reporter: I don’t know if this is for you or for Dr. Caledon, but when do we expect that we’ll be able to keep a complete list of tests that the states aware of from private labs any other sources that are out there?
Whitmer: That real quick. I think that is very possible you’ll see an order mandating the sharing of information so that we can have a better handle on this we are working through what that would look like and what it would need to include but that is something that I think is really important timing we’ve got a lot of different pieces that we are working on my legal team is literally been working 24 hours a day since the first two cases were acknowledged here in Michigan and so that is the next very important piece bringing down assemblages of people doing everything we can on the front end to mitigate community spread, but this is an important piece of it as well and we are working on it.
Reporter: I just have one more open-ended question. Just are you looking at any of these big actions that are being taken by either you unilaterally or in conjunction with the legislature and seeing something that’s going to become a permanent part of how we do things either formally or informally?
Whitmer: Hold on to the mic, right? Because you’re going to have to clarify that. Here’s what I what I can say, I think every one of the executive orders that we’ve taken is big action we’ve been aggressive we’ve been on the front edge of the work that has been done across this nation by governors everywhere.
I have been in close communication with my colleagues across the nation on both sides of the aisle so that we are learning from one another we are challenging one another we’re helping inform one another as we develop our policies and so additional big actions you’re going to have to define for me a little bit more,
Reporter: Oh sure. I think what’s simply is. What have you signed and looked at and said oh this is the new normal it was different before but now this is the new permanent state of affairs?
Whitmer: Well, you know right if I went through all the lists of the executive orders I have signed, you know, I’ve declared a state of emergency quite a while ago at this point, I brought down the number of assemblages we have made restrictions on entering into healthcare facilities and residential facilities. I have restricted price gouging, and working with the attorney general on that, the closure of bars, and you know, change in accommodation at restaurants, expanding unemployment and cost sharing, suspending restrictions on trucking so we can get supplies into communities. And we’re urgently setting up emergency temporary health care facilities. And now for closure relief, and I can tell you there’s more to come with regard to some of the actions that we’re seeing in San Francisco for that instance.
I know that that was something that Susan asked earlier there are a lot of different pieces that we think we can do that will continue to help mitigate community spread and those are actions we’ll be taking I am hopeful that every one of these is a chapter in time, and I know that it is this is not a change forever, but we have got to be serious about how we act in this moment so that we can look back on this one day as a chapter and that was a challenge for our state.
Reporter: Why is the state no longer reporting negative tests?
Whitmer: So I think that we’re having an internal debate on that because the reporting of negative tests can communicate inadvertently a message that there’s more negative than positive and people might take something away from that sometimes tests that are negative had to be run more than once and that would be two negative tests on one person and so the the takeaway is complicated. That being said, I do think that there is some discussion about bringing back that number because so many people in the press have escort but I would wanted to raise those two points as challenges with regard to the number meaning in particular infinity people take away from that.