Governor Requests Federal Major Disaster Declaration to Aid COVID-19 Response

With Michigan in the top five states dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced in a news conference from her Lansing office that she has requested a major disaster declaration from President Donald Trump to help with the state’s response to the outbreak.
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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
CUTLINE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces that she has asked President Trump for a major disaster declaration to help the state deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. // Photo courtesy of WDIV

With Michigan in the top five states dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced in a news conference from her Lansing office that she has requested a major disaster declaration from President Donald Trump to help with the state’s response to the outbreak.

Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, California, and Washington already have received major disaster declarations from the Trump administration.

Whitmer said at the news conference that if granted, a major disaster declaration will help the state government provide meals, rental assistance, temporary housing, mental health therapy, counseling, and much-needed additional capacity in the state’s health care system.

The state says as of March 25, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,294 and that at least 43 Michigan citizens had died from the virus.

“We’re still in the upslope when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services during the press conference. She added that the state likely is a few weeks away from a peak of cases if everyone stays home to help stop the spread.

Whitmer reported that on its own, Michigan has acquired:

  • 13 million N95 masks
  • 226,000 surgical masks
  • 35,000 hospital gowns
  • More than four million gloves
  • Nearly 100,000 face shields
  • 250 beds
  • Thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer.

“We have been working 24-7 to secure items,” said Whitmer, who added that the contribution of Michigan businesses to the gown, mask, ventilator, and sanitizer shortage is helpful. “It is still not nearly enough to meet our need.”

Although two of the state’s largest health organizations, Henry Ford Health System and Beaumont Health, have yet to reach capacity and are working to expand capacity, municipal and medical officials are looking at potential alternative hospital sites. The Detroit News reported March 26 that large venues such as the TCF Convention Center, the Detroit Pistons new practice facility in Detroit, college dormitories, and hotels could serve as potential overflow sites.

In addition, DBusiness Daily News reported today a new drive up COVID-19 test site will open Friday at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit thanks to a coalition of southeast Michigan governments and health care systems called the Coronavirus Community Care Network. JP Morgan Chase and Quicken Loans Inc. also are assisting with the rollout.

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