LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned Tuesday that a Detroit-area hospital system was “almost at capacity” treating people with the coronavirus, as the state’s stay-at-home order kicked in to reduce the spread.
The governor, speaking about her measure with WDET-FM, pointed to Beaumont Health, which has eight hospitals in Wayne and Oakland counties and describes itself as Michigan’s largest health care system.
“Let’s be very clear: Beaumont Health is almost at capacity right now. We have not seen the worst of it yet,” she said. “The numbers are going to continue to climb.”
The Associated Press left messages with the governor’s office and Beaumont seeking additional information and clarification.
Oakland University, which sent students home, has offered its dorms, arena and parking lots to Beaumont for makeshift medical purposes. The president, Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, who is a physician, predicts local health care providers will become swamped. She said residence halls could be used to isolate people.
Whitmer has barred employers from requiring workers to leave their homes unless necessary to protect life or conduct minimum basic operations. There are exceptions, including grocery stores, banks, gas stations and restaurants offering carry-out food.
In Petoskey, in northern Michigan, Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said deputies will investigate complaints about people violating Whitmer’s command but “there will not be any arrests.” Other police agencies have offered similar messages.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The majority of people recover.
At least 1,328 people have tested positive in Michigan for the coronavirus. Nearly 73% of cases — 967 — are in Wayne County, which is home to Detroit, and adjacent Oakland County. COVID-19 deaths have climbed to at least 15.
A Detroit police dispatcher who caught the virus when he traveled outside Michigan died Monday. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the 38-year-old man was not feeling well when he returned to work on March 16 after a trip.
“This disease can’t spread person to person if we’re not out there,” Whitmer said Monday in pleading with people to stay home.
Separately, 282 Detroit officers were off work awaiting test results or self-quarantining, although 152 were expected to return by the end of the week, Duggan said. The department has about 2,200 officers, according to its website.
The pandemic has led to acts of generosity. A Lansing-area man twice dropped off $1,000 to be shared by employees at Darrell’s Market & Hardware near Mason.
“I think he just wanted to support people that are still working. He’s pretty special,” owner Jamie Robinson told the Lansing State Journal.
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