Gov. Whitmer: COVID surge appears to be 'slowing down a bit'

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Craig Mauger, The Detroit News
·2 min read
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Apr. 16—LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that Michigan is making progress in its fight against a third COVID-19 surge and the outcome will come down to "whether or not the citizens take this seriously and do their part."

The Democratic governor made the comments during appearances on "ABC News Live" and MSNBC after a day of warnings from hospital leaders about high numbers of patients with COVID-19 in the state.

Michigan has been leading the nation in new coronavirus cases per population for two weeks, and infection numbers have been climbing for seven weeks. However, after the number of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a record high of 4,011 Tuesday, the tally dropped slightly the next two days to 3,960 Thursday.

"At the end of the day, it's going to come down to whether or not the citizens take this seriously and do their part," Whitmer said on "ABC News Live." "And that's really going to be the answer to getting us out of this moment.

"We're starting to see things look as though they're slowing down a bit. I don't want to, by any stretch, say that this isn't serious and that we don't all have to take this very seriously, but we're making progress."

At least eight hospitals across Michigan were listed Thursday at full capacity for COVID-19 patients. Beaumont Health CEO John Fox called the development "troubling and alarming."

Amid the surging numbers, some public health experts, including Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have called on the governor's administration to issue new restrictions on gatherings. However, Whitmer continued to suggest Thursday night that she doesn't believe that approach will work more than a year into the pandemic.

"We are so incredibly divided after, I think, the politics of the last 14 months," Whitmer said during an appearance on MSNBC's "All in With Chris Hayes." "And so it is a very difficult moment where I am still trying to get the Legislature to just deploy resources that the Trump administration sent us."

She continued, "What might seem like a natural thing to do is much more complicated than what the CDC might suggest when you look at the reality here on the ground."

On Monday, Walensky said the answer to Michigan's "acute situation" with COVID-19 was to shut down the state and "flatten the curve."

Hayes asked Whitmer what had contributed to Michigan's high case numbers at the moment compared to other states. The governor mentioned variants that are more contagious and having large numbers of people who don't have antibodies against the virus.

The B.1.1.7. variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is the dominant form of COVID "or soon will be," Whitmer said.

cmauger@detroitnews.com