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NEW: Michigan Gov. Whitmer Says 'Racism' Fueled Protests Over Virus Response

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

UPDATE (Posted May 3):  

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says gun-toting protesters who demonstrated inside the state Capitol "depicted some of the worst racism" and "awful parts" of U.S. history. Whitmer made the assertion during a Sunday appearance on CNN and before the release of the latest number of deaths in Michigan related to the coronavirus.

Officials say the 29 new deaths, which increased the number to 4,049, was one of the lowest daily increases since the pandemic began in Michigan. During the CNN appearance, Whitmer noted the protests featured "Confederate flags, and nooses," as well as swastikas.

(Posted May 2):
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan's stay-at-home order remains in effect despite Republicans’ refusal to extend her underlying coronavirus emergency declaration, as she amended it to allow construction, real estate and outdoor work to resume next week. The Democratic governor, who may be sued by the GOP-led Legislature, addressed reporters Friday hours after President Donald Trump said she should “make a deal” with conservatives who protested her restrictions at the Capitol. She denounced the protest as ”disturbing,” noting there were swastikas, Confederate flags, nooses and some people with assault weapons. She says she'll gradually reopen the economy using science and data.

Gun-carrying protesters have been a common sight at some demonstrations calling for coronavirus-related restrictions to be lifted. But an armed militia’s involvement in an angry protest in the Michigan statehouse Thursday marked an escalation that drew condemnation and shone a spotlight on the practice of bringing weapons to protest.  For some observers, the images of armed men in tactical gear at a state Capitol were an unsettling symbol of rising tensions in a nation grappling with crisis. Others saw evidence of racial bias in the way the protesters were treated by police. 

NEW: (Posted May 1):

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has refused to extend the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration. It also voted Thursday to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s authority and actions to combat the pandemic. The unfazed governor issued new orders declaring states of emergency and disaster. A court fight is looming. The emergency is the basis for Whitmer's stay-at-home order, which she says has saved lives. The Legislature's steps came as hundreds of conservative activists returned to the Capitol to denounce Whitmer’s stay-home measure. The coronavirus has infected more than 41,000 Michigan residents and contributed to the deaths of nearly 3,800.


NEW (Posted Apr. 30):

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Michigan House has refused to extend the state's coronavirus emergency declaration. It also voted Thursday to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's authority and actions to combat the pandemic. The step came as hundreds of conservative activists returned to the Capitol to denounce Whitmer's stay-at-home measure. Whitmer wanted lawmakers to extend her emergency declaration by 28 days. It expires late Thursday. But at the same time, she has said the state of emergency will continue regardless because of another law giving her broad powers to act.

Meantime today Michigan saw 119 more COVID-19 deaths. Total coronavirus cases in the state are over 41,000 while total deaths are nearing 3,800.

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 29):

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing free college for health care workers and others involved in the coronavirus fight. Whitmer likened their service to soldiers who got a free education after returning home from World War II. Whitmer didn’t disclose the cost, but said the money would come from the federal government. Separately, the governor said the state will spend $130 million to help child care providers stay afloat. Meanwhile, deaths attributed to COVID-19 rose by 103 to 3,670. The number includes 1,008 in Detroit. Confirmed virus cases rose about 3% statewide to nearly 40,400.

NEW (Posted Apr. 28):

The State of Michigan is reporting 160 additional COVID-19 deaths as of today. Total cases in the state are now over 39,000 and total deaths are over 3,500.

Berrien County has 232 cases and 1 deaths. Cass County has 27 cases and 2 deaths. St. Joseph County has 30 cases and 1 death. Van Buren County has 43 cases and 2 deaths.

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 27):

Michigan is reporting 92 new COVID-19 deaths and more than 3,400 new cases in the last day.

Berrien County has 217 cases and 14 deaths. Cass County has 27 cases and 2 deaths. St. Joseph County has 29 cases and 1 death. Van Buren County has 36 cases and 2 deaths.

NEW (Posted Apr. 26):

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is defending the extension of the state's stay-at-home order as the "best weapon to defeat" the coronavirus in a newspaper opinion piece. Her comments Sunday come as the state reported an additional 41 deaths, for a total of 3,315 in the state. State officials say the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is more than 37,700, including an additional 575 reported Sunday. Whitmer also signed an order to protect consumers and extended another order relaxing medical practice laws to allow physician assistants and nurses to treat COVID-19 patients.

THE LATEST (Posted Apr. 25):

Michigan is reporting 189 additional deaths as of Saturday due to COVID-19. Total deaths in the state are now at 3,274. Total cases now top 37,000.

Berrien County has 213 cases and a dozen deaths. Cass County has 26 cases and 2 deaths. St. Joseph County has 27 cases and 1 death. VAn Buren County has 34 cases and 2 deaths. 

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 24):

New stats released by the State of Michigan show COVID-19 cases topping 36,000 and total deaths at 3,085. 

Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten and Spectrum Health Lakeland President Dr. Loren Hamel addressed how they believe the curve is flattening locally in a Facebook Live update Friday.

“We are continuing to see the number of confirmed cases increasing slightly each week, so the number of cases per day, some of that’s hard to interpret though because we’re doing a lot more testing.” Britten says. 

“A lot more testing, twice as much testing,” says Hamel.

“Right, so we’re going to be finding more cases,” Britten acknowledged.

Britten and Hamel say the area is experiencing a flattened curve thanks to social distancing measures. As of Friday, Berrien County has 210 cases and 11 deaths.


NEW (Posted Apr. 23 at 4:10pm): 

Michigan has topped the 35,000 mark in total cases of COVID-19. Total death stats are nearing 3,000. 

Berrien County has 189 cases and 11 deaths, Cass County has 23 cases and 2 deaths (that respresents 1 new death in Cass County in the last day.) St. Joseph County has 27 cases and 1 death and Van Buren County has 35 cases and 2 deaths. 

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 22 at 4:30pm):

Michigan has nearly 34,000 cases of COVID-19. 113 new deaths have been reported, bringing total deaths from the virus to 2,813.

Berrien County has 177 cases and 11 deaths. Cass County has 23 cases and 1 death. St. Joseph County has 27 cases and 1 death and Van Buren County has 36 cases and 2 deaths.

THE LATEST (Posted Apr. 21 at 4:20pm):

New COVID-19 figures released by the State of Michigan show a big jump in the number of deaths in one day. Deaths in the last 24 hour reporting period are at 232. 

In the WVPE listening area, Berrien County has 170 cases and 10 deaths; Cass has 22 cases and 1 death; St. Joseph County has 25 cases and 1 death and Van Buren County has two dozen cases and 2 deaths. 

NEW (Posted Apr. 20 at 3:30pm):

Total COVID-19 cases in Michigan are at 32,000 based on the latest data released by the state. Total deaths are at 2,468. In the last 24 hour reporting period, 77 new deaths were reported and 576 new cases were reported in Michigan.

In the WVPE listening area, Berrien County has 164 cases and 8 deaths; Cass County has 22 cases and 1 death; St. Joseph County has 25 cases and 1 death and Van Buren County has 33 cases and 2 deaths.  

Meantime, the U.S. and Canada have extended restrictions on border crossings for another 30 days, restricting travel to health care workers, commercial trucks and others deemed essential. More than 1,000 people from Canada work at hospitals in southeastern Michigan that have been hit hard from the coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Meanwhile, Beaumont Health says a 5-year-old Detroit girl has died from COVID-19. The state says Skylar Herbert is the youngest among nearly 2,400 people who have died in Michigan.

A federal judge has delayed a deadline for Michigan candidates to file petitions to qualify for the ballot. U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg on Monday cited the state’s stay-at-home order that's in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline was Tuesday, but it has been pushed back 17 days to May 8. Berg says candidates can collect half as many signatures as normal, and they can gather them by email instead of getting a physical signature. The ruling is a victory for Eric Esshaki, who is seeking the Republican nomination in Michigan's 11th Congressional District in suburban Detroit.

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 19 at 3:30pm):

New COVID-19 data has been released in the State of Michigan on death and confirmed case statistics. 

Overall, total cases are now over 31,000 and total deaths are nearing 2,400.

83 new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours and 633 new cases were reported.

Meantime, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says her strict stay-at-home order and the shutdown of many businesses appears to be slowing the spread of COVID-19.  
Whitmer made the round of Sunday talk shows, where she said strict stay-at-home orders and closing businesses is difficult. But, she told C-N-N, now is not the time to let up.

“The harsh way that it’s hitting my state means that we’ve got to be really smart about the actions that we take now to protect life and the actions we take now to re-engage,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer says her decision will rely heavily on getting enough test results to get an accurate read on the number of infections.  

Michigan's Republican State House Speaker Lee Chatfield sent a letter to Whitmer Saturday asking her to reconsider the scope of her stay-at-home orders to alleviate some of the hardship on workers and businesses.

NEW (Posted Apr. 18 at 3:30pm)::

DETROIT (AP) — The number of new coronavirus cases in Michigan again rose slowly Saturday and was just slightly ahead of the Friday figure. The state health department also said deaths attributed to COVID-19 grew by 81 to 2,308. But that's down from the number of new deaths reported Friday. Hospitals and public officials have been encouraged by the trend in Michigan, although stay-at-home orders and business restrictions remain in place. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said some rules could start easing May 1. The state said there have been nearly 30,800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since March 10. Thousands of people have recovered.  

Berrien County has 153 cases and 8 deaths, Cass County has 22 cases and 1 death, St. Joseph County has 24 cases and 1 death and Van Buren County has 31 cases and 2 deaths. 

(Posted Apr. 17 at 5pm):

The State of Michigan has released updated COVID-19 information. Total cases are over 30,000 and total deaths are ove 2,200.

During a press conference Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer responded to tweets by President Trump who is urging his supporters to “LIBERATE” three states led by Democratic governors, in effect encouraging protests against the stay-at-home restrictions against the coronavirus.

The president took to Twitter on Friday with the kind of rhetoric some of his supporters have used to demand the lifting of the orders that have thrown millions of Americans out of work.  

UPDATE: (Posted Apr. 16 at 3:30pm): 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Seven Midwestern governors announced Thursday that they will coordinate on reopening their state economies, after similar pacts were made earlier this week in the Northeast and on the West Coast. Thursday's announcement covers Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The governors say they will work with experts and take a “fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19.” All together, the 17 states covered by the three pacts are home to nearly half the U.S. population. Today Michigan saw total cases go over 29,000 and total deaths are near 2,100.

 A major Detroit-area health care provider is reporting another drop in COVID-19 patients. Henry Ford Health System said Thursday it has 617 patients with the coronavirus, the lowest number since April 1. The company cautions that the crisis is far from over, but says it’s encouraged enough to start scheduling surgeries unrelated to the coronavirus. It's also suspending plans for extra space for COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state’s revenues could drop by $7 billion over the next 18 months. She urged President Donald Trump to work with Congress to send more federal aid to states and local governments.

THE LATEST (Posted Apr. 15 at 6:10pm): 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she stands by her executive order that closed many businesses and limited public gatherings. That was after a protest of her order at the state Capitol Wednesday drew several thousand vehicles.

Whitmer says people have a right to disagree with her and to protest. But she noted many of the people left their vehicles to join others demonstrating in front of the Capitol, and did not remain socially distanced and did not wear masks. And Whitmer says that could mean a further spread of COVID-19 once they return home, which could prolong the crisis.

“Just by congregating, they made that a real possibility, that they’ve endangered other people’s lives," Whitmer said.

The pace of new infections is slowing, but Whitmer says the restrictions should continue until there’s a steady decline in new cases.  Michigan is the 10th largest U.S. state, but Whitmer says the state ranks third in the number of known coronavirus infections.

NEW (Posted Apr. 15 at 3:55pm):

153 new deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours in Michigan. Total cases in the state are now over 28,000. Locally, case numbers are growing in the WVPE listneing area as well. 

Berrien County: 123 cases, 7 deaths

Cass County: 17 cases, 1 death

St. Joseph County: 22 cases, 1 death

Van Buren County: 26 cases 2 deaths 

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 15 at 12:30pm): 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dozens of flag-waving, honking protesters drove past the Michigan Capitol to show their displeasure with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. They don't like her orders to keep people at home and businesses locked during the coronavirus outbreak. The protest, called "Operation Gridlock," was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition. Coalition member Meshawn Maddock said Whitmer's orders are "just a disaster." The governor has acknowledged the pain but says the restrictions are necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus. More than 1,700 Michigan residents have died from COVID-19 complications.
UPDATE (Posted Apr. 14 at 3:30pm):

After lower daily reported deaths and new case numbers of COVID-19 in Michigan over the weekend, today numbers rose. 166 new deaths were reported and 1,366 new cases were reported. The state now has more than 27,000 cases and more than 1,700 deaths.

New deaths were reported in SW Michigan. Here are the latest stats reported for counties in the WVPE listening area:

Berrien 111 cases, 5 deaths

Cass 13 cases, 1 death

St. Joseph 22 cases, 1 death

Van Buren 22 cases, 2 deaths

In the meantime, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s expanded stay-at-home order has passionate supporters and ardent critics. It’s being challenged in federal court. And foes of the order are planning a rally tomorrow (Wed.) at the state Capitol. Their plan is to have a caravan of cars and trucks drive around the four blocks that surround the building. That will allow them to register their objections without violating the order.

Meanwhile, Oakland County said workers at businesses deemed essential will be required to wear face masks to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. The policy won’t be enforced until April 27 so businesses can acquire the protection. 

NEW (Posted Apr. 13 at 4:10pm):

The number of new reported cases and deaths of COVID-19 is higher in Michigan than the figures reported on Easter Sunday. 

Meantime, the Berrien County Health Department is keeping a close eye on a cluster of COVID-19 cases at a long term care facility in Benton Harbor.

Four residents and four staff members at Hallmark Living Center have tested positive. Three of the four residents have died. All three were terminally ill before contracting COVID-19.

All staff members that have tested positive are isolating in their homes.

All residents that tested positive were isolated in their rooms. All group activities at the home have been canceled.

The County health department has implemented enhanced monitoring and disinfection at the facility. Visitors are not allowed in.

As of today (Mon) there are 105 positive cases of COVID-19 in Berrien County and five deaths.

UPDATE: (Posted Apr. 12 at 6pm):

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan public health official are reporting a big drop in the daily number of COVID-19 cases but are cautioning against drawing wider conclusions as fewer tests are conducted on weekends. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 645 new cases Sunday compared with 1,392 the day before. Public health officials say Sunday's tally included 95 deaths, compared with 111 deaths on Saturday. Health officials say they can't confirm if the dip “represents a true decline” of coronavirus cases. There's limited data to compare, but the case count could reflect fewer tests administered on weekends. 

Berrien County has reported a fourth coronavirus death. Total cases in the county are now up to 104.

NEW INFORMATION (Posted Apr. 11 at 5:30pm):

Michigan has reported 111 new deaths from COVID-19, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to nearly 1,400 as its confirmed coronavirus cases approached 24,000.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, meanwhile, announced Saturday that 13 new or expanded COVID-19 drive-through testing sites would begin operating around the state under a plan to increase the state’s daily testing by about 40 percent. One of those new sites will be in Benton Harbor.

The state Department of Health and Human Services reports that the new deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, had brought the state’s death toll to 1,392. Michigan had another 1,210 confirmed coronavirus cases, boosting the state's total to 23,993.  

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 11 at 1pm):

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced expanded COVID-19 testing in the state.

Here is more from her news release:

New drive-thru sites will also operate in Atlanta (between Gaylord and Alpena), Bad Axe, Battle Creek, Bay City, Benton Harbor, Jackson, Kalamazoo, and Traverse City. The partnership will significantly expand drive-thru test sites currently operating in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Saginaw. (Details are below.) Each site will aim to serve 100 or more individuals per day beginning Monday, April 13, with the exception of the Detroit and Flint sites that will begin operations on later dates. Individuals should call before coming to these drive-thru sites for pre-test evaluation and additional information.

“Increased testing is the only way we will know where COVID-19 is in Michigan, and will guide our public health response,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “Along with social distancing practices such as staying home and keeping 6 feet between yourself and others if you must go out, more testing will help Michigan slow the spread of COVID-19.”

THE LATEST (Posted Aprl 11 at 8am):

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan has reported 205 new deaths from COVID-19, the state's highest daily toll since the pandemic began. Also Friday, a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients opened at the TCF Center in Detroit to ease the pressure on health care providers. Despite the rising death toll, hospitals in hard-hit southeastern Michigan have been expressing optimism about their caseloads. As a result, Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan hasn’t opened a temporary hospital as planned. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended her stay-at-home order through April 30. She says the spike in deaths shows “we are not out of the woods yet.”

To check cases and deaths county by county click here. 

NEW (Posted Apr. 9 at 3:20pm):

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended the state's 'stay-at-home' order through April 30. The order also enacts stricter social distancing requirements in stores and workplaces. The order prohibits employers from requiring workers to leave their homes unless necessary to protect life or conduct minimum basic operations. It also bars gatherings of any number outside a single household, except to care for a family member, though places of religious worship are exempt from misdemeanor penalties. Michigan has reported at least 21,504 confirmed cases and 1,076 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

Here is a copy of her order.  

Meantime, new statistics released show 117 new deaths in the state in the last day. No new deaths have occurred in the SW Michigan counties in the WVPE listening area. 

Berrien has 80 cases and 2 deaths, Cass has 10 cases and 1 death, St. Joseph Co. has 18 cases and no deaths and Van Buren Co. has 18 cases and 1 death. 

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 8 at 4pm):

Michigan's total cases of coronavirus now top 20,000 as statewide deaths are now nearing the 1,000 mark.

In the WVPE listening area, the statewide stats do not indicate any new deaths. Total COVID-19 cases in Berrien County are at 72, Cass at 9, St. Joseph at 16 and Van Buren at 18. 

NEW (Posted Apr. 7 at 3:45pm):

Officials say Michigan deaths from the coronavirus rose 16 percent and made the largest daily jump since the outbreak hit the state.

The state reported 118 additional deaths related to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, raising the total to 845.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose 10 percent to nearly 19,000. Gov Gretchen Whitmer says “It’s another tough 24 hours" in Michigan.  

Overall in the WVPE listening area, Berrien County has 64 cases and 2 deaths; Cass has 9 cases and 1 death; St Joseph 14 cases and no deaths and Van Buren County has 17 cases and 1 death. 

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has lengthened Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency declaration by 23 days, through April, rather than adopt a 70-day extension she sought into mid-June.


Republicans say they had to vote Tuesday to keep Whitmer’s emergency declaration from expiring. But Democrats say it would not have lapsed because she issued a declaration last week, meaning legislators did not have to vote until April 29.

Lengthening Whitmer’s emergency is important because the original declaration is the basis for roughly 30 subsequent executive orders, including those telling people to stay home and closing schools and businesses.

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 7 at 11:40am): 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are meeting to extend a statewide emergency declaration during the coronavirus pandemic, but are divided over how long it should be extended and whether they need to meet.

Republicans who control the Senate approved a 23-day extension Tuesday.

The House plans to vote later in the day. Republicans say they must act now because Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declaration expires Tuesday.

But Democrats say it does not lapse because she issued a declaration last week that also includes a new disaster declaration, meaning legislators do not have to vote until April 29.

Whitmer wanted a 70-day extension.

NEW: (Posted Apr. 6 at 4:15pm):

Michigan's daily release of new COVID-19 data shows 1,500+ news cases in the last day and 110 more deaths.

Locally, Berrien County now has 60 cases.

Berrien County also has reported a second death.

The patient was a man over 65 with underlying medical conditions. He was undergoing treatment at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joe.

Berrien County has reported 60 confirmed cases to state authorities.

In a written statement county Health Officer Nicki Britten says multiple new cases of the coronavirus have been linked to in-person funerals.

Britten encouraged families to have livestreamed funerals instead or plan memorial services for after the pandemic has passed.

Van Buren County has 16 cases and no new deaths since the one reported earlier. Cass County has 7 cases and just one death reported last week. St. Joseph County has 11 cases and no deaths.

UPDATE: (Posted Apr. 6 at 11:30am):

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials say a field hospital at Detroit’s downtown convention center could gets its first COVID-19 patients this week.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Detroit-area hospitals are running “dangerously low” on personal protection equipment. She also reports an “incredible surge” in the number of unemployment claims.

Credit Photo provided by the State of Michigan
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan speaks during a news conference on Apr. 6, 2020.

Whitmer promises that people will get paid, despite computer woes and bureaucratic red tape. The number of cases in the state rose to 15,700 and 617 deaths over the weekend.

According to House Democrats, Rep. Karen Whitsett of Detroit tested positive for the virus, but that she appears to be recovering.

You can watch the news conference from earlier Monday morning here.

BREAKING (Posted Apr. 5 at 6:40pm): 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued another executive order to try and stop the spread of COVID-19.

You can read more about it below.

LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed executive order 2020-37, which renews the restrictions on entry into care facilities and juvenile justice facilities the governor issued on March 14, 2020 until May 3, 2020. The order now requires facilities to use best efforts to facilitate remote visitations between individuals under their care and their loved ones, using phone or video conferencing software.

The order also clarifies that “residential care facilities” include, but are not limited to, homes for the aged, nursing homes, adult foster care facilities, hospice facilities, substance abuse disorder residential facilities, independent living facilities, and assisted living facilities.

“We must continue to do everything we can to protect Michiganders,” said Governor Whitmer. “This is a hard time for families, and we will continue to put their health and safety first when making these decisions. I encourage everyone in Michigan to remain flexible and do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Effective immediately and continuing through May 3, 2020 at 11:59 pm, all health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities must prohibit from entering their facilities any visitors that: are not necessary for the provision of medical care, the support of activities of daily living, or the exercise of power of attorney or court-appointed guardianship for an individual under the facility’s care; are not a parent, foster parent, or guardian of an individual who is 21 years of age or under and who is under the facility’s care; are not visiting an individual under the facility’s care that is in serious or critical condition or in hospice care; and are not visiting under exigent circumstances or for the purpose of performing official governmental functions. The birth of a child qualifies as an exigent circumstance under the order, meaning that a partner and doula may accompany a laboring mother, if they pass the health evaluation required by the order.

NEW INFORMATION: (Posted Apr. 5 at 5pm):

The latest stats released by the State of Michigan show 77 more deaths during a one day period over the weekend. Nearly 1,500 new cases were reported in that same time frame.

No counties in the WVPE listening area reported new deaths.

Berrien County has 58 cases, Cass has 7, St Joseph County has 10 and Van Buren County has 14.

In the meantime, an emergency order from the state’s health department is requiring doctors and funeral homes to report COVID-19 deaths quicker.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued the directive late Saturday. It took effect immediately. The idea is to help public health officials “provide better health services and enforce health laws.” Under the order, funeral directors have 24 hours to initiate a death record and and submit to the attending physician.

Doctors have to attempt to certify the death record within 24 hours. Michigan has reported over 15,700 cases of COVID-19 with 617 deaths as of Sunday. 

Michigan lawmakers plan to convene to lengthen Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declaration amid the coronavirus pandemic but are at odds over the extension and whether the session is even necessary.

The Republican-led Legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday, three weeks after last voting. Since then, one legislator has died from a suspected COVID-19 infection and another has tested positive, causing uneasiness over congregating in Lansing.

Stretching Whitmer’s emergency is important because the original declaration — set to expire — is the basis of nearly 30 subsequent executive orders, including those telling people to stay home and closing schools and businesses.

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 4 aat 3:30pm)

New data released by the State of Michigan shows cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise in Berrien County where there are now 56 cases. Van Buren County has a dozen cases. St. Joseph County has 9 and Cass County has six. No new deaths in any of our local counties have been reported in the last 24 hours.    

Overall in Michigan, nearly 1,500 new cases of coronavirus were reported from Friday into Saturday. There were 61 new deaths in that same time period in the state. 

THE LATEST (Posted Apr. 3 at 5pm):

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says anyone with the principal symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home for a minimum of three days after the symptoms resolve. Friday's order applies to all residents who test positive or have at least one of the three main symptoms of the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Those symptoms include a fever, atypical cough or unusual shortness of breath. Confirmed cases in Michigan rose by nearly 2,000 to about 12,700, and the number of coronavirus-related deaths jumped by 62 to 479.

NEW (Posted Apr. 3 at 8:15am) 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan is probably a month away from reaching the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 10,000 people and contributed to 417 deaths statewide.

She said Thursday that everyone must act as though we could be carrying the virus and stay home because just one person with it can infect another 40. 

Michigan has been particularly hard hit by the virus, with the vast majority of its cases coming from in and around Detroit. In Detroit alone, residents make up 24% of the deaths statewide and 26% of the 10,791 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Whitmer says K-12 school buildings will not reopen to students for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Public and private schools have already been shut down for nearly three weeks. Under Whitmer's order Thursday, face-to-face instruction won't resume this spring for more than 1.5 million children.

Districts must create distance learning programs. Options include online classes, phone lessons or printed materials sent to homes. 

Seniors will graduate and other students will advance to the next grade, as long as they were on track to do so before the shutdown.

UPDATE (Posted Apr. 2 at 4:45pm)

Michigan has 80 new COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours. Total deaths in Michigan are now at 417. Total cases are at 10,791.

Of those cases, Berrien County has 40, Cass has 6, St. Joseph County has 8 and Van Buren County has 12 and has seen that county's first death.

THE LATEST (Posted April 2 at 11:30am):

Today Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced all K-12 school buildings in the state will be closed for the remainder of the current school year.

All public and private schools are more than halfway through a four-week shutdown ordered by Whitmer to combat the outbreak. She said Thursday face-to-face instruction will not resume this spring for more than 1.5 million children.

Districts will create distance learning programs, with flexibility on how they do so — whether is is online or with printed materials sent to homes. Seniors will graduate and other students will advance to the next grade, as long as they were on track to do so before the closure.

You can read more from the release below.

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-35, which orders all K-12 school buildings to close for the remainder of the school year — unless restrictions are lifted — and ensures continuing of learning by setting guidelines for remote learning. District facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purposes of facilitating learning at a distance while also practicing social distancing.

“My number one priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19. For the sake of our students, their families, and the more than 100,000 teachers and staff in our state, I have made the difficult decision to close our school facilities for the remainder of the school year,” Governor Whitmer said. “As a parent, I understand the challenge closing schools creates for parents and guardians across the state, which is why we are setting guidelines for schools to continue remote learning and ensuring parents have resources to continue their children’s education from the safety of their homes. There is no video chat or homework packet that can replace the value of a highly trained, experienced teacher working with students in a classroom, but we must continue to provide equitable educational opportunities for students during this public health crisis.”

The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers are currently developing a Continuity of Learning Plan template application for schools to utilize in order to create their localized plan. The application will be made available by April 3. District plans will need to detail how districts will provide opportunities for students to learn remotely and how schools will manage and monitor their progress. It will also provide information on how parents and guardians can learn more about the local plan. Each district must have its plan approved by their regional intermediate school district before being implemented. Public school academies must have their plans approved by their authorizer. Districts can also partner with one another to create joint plans.  

Every district’s plan will be different and will reflect what’s best and feasible for their community. A plan can include learning by any number of modes of instruction delivery, including a hybrid approach. However they are designed, districts must ensure their plans are appropriate, equitable and accessible for students and families.

If the plan relies on some online instruction, the district should ensure every student who needs it has access to an appropriate device with an ability to connect to the internet. Students and families will not be penalized if they are unable to participate in their alternate learning plan.

Schools should continue to provide mental health care services for students, to the extent possible, and should be ready and willing to help efforts to establish disaster relief childcare centers. School districts will also continue to provide meals for families who need them during the COVID-19 crisis. If any schools have unused personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies or other materials, they are allowed and encouraged to donate them to organizations that could put them to use.

School districts will have the flexibility to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-2020 school year and/or to begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day without having to seek additional approval. Teachers and school employees will be paid for the remainder of the school year. Student teachers will still be able to get a temporary certification and current teachers will still be able to get their certifications renewed, even if they can’t meet all the requirements due to COVID-19.

All Michigan high school seniors will be given the opportunity to graduate this year so that they may make a successful postsecondary transition. Additionally, all standardized tests previously scheduled for the remainder of the school year, including the M-STEP and the SAT, will be canceled. There will be a date in October for rising high school seniors to take the SAT and for other high school students to take the PSAT.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

To view executive order 2020-35, click the link below:


NEW ( Posted April 1 at 5:40pm):

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking the Legislature to extend her emergency powers by 70 days to deal with the COVID-19 crisis in the state. This includes the power to close businesses deemed non-essential and to require people to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The Legislature has a session day tentatively scheduled for next week and could return to the Capitol to vote on the request.  

In addition, today Whitmer declared a 'State of Disaster' in Michigan. 

The full release on that declaration is below. 

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-33, which recognizes the expanded scope of economic, educational, and civic dislocation caused by the COVID-19, and equips the administration to address fully the devastation caused by virus. The order also formally declares a state of disaster.

“Since Michigan announced our first confirmed cases of COVID-19 three weeks ago, we have taken some of the most aggressive measures in the country to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect Michigan families,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today’s action will allow my administration to respond more effectively to every facet of this crisis. During this time, it’s crucial that Michiganders continue to stay home and keep their distance from others. We will get through this together.”

“The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan is still climbing, and we must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “The governor has taken a number of critical steps to protect Michigan families, and this order today will allow that work to continue. I will keep working closely with the governor and our partners across state government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

In addition to issuing Executive Order 2020-33, Governor Whitmer sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield requesting a concurrent resolution extending this declared state of emergency and disaster under Executive Order 20-33 by 70 days from the date of the resolution.

In the letter, the governor stated, “To meet the steep, varied, and ongoing demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic, my administration must continue to use the full range of tools available to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our state and its residents. I welcome you and your colleagues’ continued partnership in fighting this pandemic.”

While the governor has multiple independent powers to address the challenges Michigan now faces, the powers invoked by Executive Order 2020-33 provide important protections and should remain a part the state’s ongoing efforts to combat this pandemic. The individual emergency orders, including Executive Order 2020-21 (Stay Home, Stay Safe), expire at the time stated in each order, unless otherwise continued.

On March 10, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4, which declared a state of emergency in Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In just three weeks, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan has reached 9,334 confirmed cases. To date, 337 Michiganders have died from COVID-19.

The governor has taken a number of aggressive measure to protect Michigan families from the spread of the virus, including ordering businesses that are not critical to sustain or protect life to temporarily suspend in-person operations, and directing all Michiganders to stay in their homes, with limited exceptions.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and  

To view Executive Order 2020-33 and the Governor’s request to the legislature to extend the declared state of emergency and disaster, click the links below:


UPDATE (Posted April 1 at 3:15pm):

The State of Michigan continues to see spiking COVID-19 cases. 78 more deaths from the disease have been reported in the last day bringing total deaths in Michigan to 337. In one day, 1,719 new cases have been identified, bringing the total number of cases to 9,334 in Michigan. 

Berrien County now has 38 cases, Cass County has 6 cases, St. Joseph County has 5 cases and Van Buren County has 10 cases. 


New information released by the State of Michigan indicates that Cass County has seen its first COVID-19 death. Cass County has 4 cases, Berrien has 35 (including 1 death that Jennifer Weingart reported on Monday,) St. Joseph County has 4 cases and Van Buren County has 7. 

Overall the state saw deaths increase by 40% in one day from March 30 to March 31. 

The number of new positive cases in the state is up 17% in one day. 


New info from the State of Michigan indicates climbing COVID-19 numbers. For the first time, St. Joseph County, Michigan, is reporting cases - 3 cases - in fact. 

Berrien County has reported its first COVID-19 related death. The county currently has 32 confirmed cases including this death.

The patient was a man over 70 with serious underlying healthconditions. He was being treated at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St.Joseph.

The County Health Department is asking that all residents heed theGovernor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order.

Spectrum Health is running a screening line for resiSt. Joe for thosewith a physician’s order.
All Berrien County tests are being done at Spectrum’s lab in Grand Rapids, which is making test results faster. 

Cass and Van Buren Counties as of March 30th both have 4 cases each based on MDHHS statistics. 

See more county by county details here.

Michigan's medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, says the state has 1,700 ventilators and needs 5,000 to 10,000 more.

The coronavirus attacks the lungs. Khaldun says health care workers in areas that aren't hard hit could travel to hot spots in southeastern Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an order allowing hospitals to be flexible in how they use medical professionals. 

Also today, President Trump authorized the use of National Guard members, granting Governor Whitmer’s request to allocate and order up to 3,000 members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard for up to 90 days to perform humanitarian missions across the state. 


Michigan’s National Guard, under Governor Whitmer’s command and control, will perform humanitarian missions across the state, such as helping run mobile screening facilities, distributing food and medical supplies, ensuring resiliency of supply lines, disinfecting public spaces, and supporting public safety when required. 


Credit Photo provided by the office of Gov. Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer


Gov. Whitmer's news conference has concluded. She says she is requesting a FEMA grant for the Army Corps of Engineers to construct temporary hospital facilities in Michigan. She has signed an order to push income tax deadlines into the summer. She also signed an order that will allow more types of workers in the state to qualify for unemployment benefits. She discussed news that came out over the weekend that a Detroit convention center will be turned into a makeshift hospital.

Gov. Whitmer signed an Executive Order Sunday night to "protect vulnerable populations in Michigan's county jails, local lockups and juvenile detention centers." It gives local officials flexibility to release inmates who are vulnerable to the virus and who do not pose a threat to public safety.

Gov. Whitmer has suspended state hiring and promotions and vetoed $80 million in new spending in order to steer money to fighting the coronavirus.

At the same time, Whitmer says she signed laws with $150 million for the state's response.

The governor says it's too early to know how the economic slowdown related to the virus will affect state revenue. But Whitmer says the impact is "is going to be real.”

Michigan's Chief Medical Executive says cases in the state rose by 1,800 in just two days.

She says we are likely still several weeks away from the disease peaking in Michigan. She says several southeast Michigan hospitals are already at capacity. She emphasized that the state needs additional medical professionals. 

Gov. Whitmer has also announced that the Michigan National Guard has received a request to aid Food Banks in four communities across the state, including Ann Arbor, Comstock Park, Flint, and Pontiac. Approximately 10 Michigan National Guard members will be serving at each site. 

Support to the Food Banks is scheduled to begin March 30 and is expected to continue through mid-April.


Michigan's latest COVID-19 stats from the weekend were released Sunday. 

Berrien County has 29 cases, Cass County has 4 cases, Van Buren County has 4 and St. Joseph County, Michigan, still has no cases showing up in the state's database.

This comes as a convention center in Detroit is being turned into a 900-bed makeshift hospital by the federal governement. Hospitals in southeastern Michigan are being overwhelmed by the coronavirus. 

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