Looking back on one year of COVID-19 in Michigan
Late in the evening on March 10, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the first cases of coronavirus in Michigan. In the days that followed, the state was on alert as the disease COVID-19 took hold.
A two-week shutdown became a month, then three months, then six months. Now, one year later, all of our lives look very different. Masks are commonplace, many of us still work from home, and students continue to learn remotely. Weddings and trips were postponed or cancelled. Lives were put on hold, and worse. More than 16,000 Michiganders have died of COVID-19. Over 650,000 have tested positive.
Here is a month-by-month breakdown of Michigan Radio's coverage since that fateful March day.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday night that there are two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. The cases are in Wayne and Oakland counties. They have not yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Whitmer also declared a state of emergency, saying, "We are taking every step that we can to mitigate the virus spread, and keep Michiganders safe."
Gov. Whitmer issues "stay at home" order (March 23)
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a "stay at home" order during an 11 a.m. press conference Monday as an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, and will remain in place for at least the next three weeks.
You’ve probably been hearing the term “flatten the curve” a lot these days. It's the idea that society can slow the rate of infection for contagious diseases by taking measures like canceling schools, closing businesses, or sheltering in place. The hope is to reduce the number of patients who need urgent medical care all at once.
Remembered as a passionate patient advocate, a matriarch who boosted early morning morale by cracking jokes and wasn't afraid to ruffle feathers, Ewald is believed to be one of the first known healthcare workers in Michigan to die from complications related to the virus.
Michigan has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with 21,504 cases and 1,076 deaths as of April 9. Whitmer and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun both emphasized that the continued stay home order is necessary to slow the growth of cases and deaths. She says infections in Michigan have still not peaked.
The protestors were there to voice their displeasure with Governor Gretchen Whitmer's stay at home order, which is meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. The protest, called "Operation Gridlock," was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition.
With so much uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, small business owners have to make hard decisions about how to pay the bills.
“Heck yeah, we have to figure out how to bring some revenue in here," said Alaina Campbell, owner of Cookies & Cream by Sprout Bake – a premium ice cream shop in Lake Orion.
An analysis of anonymous cell phone mobility data from the Cuebiq Mobility Index shows that movement dropped significantly in the state ahead of Gov. Whitmer’s stay-at-home order that went into effect March 24, and managed to maintain that low level of movement for approximately four weeks.
High school seniors have all of the concerns that younger kids have right now. They're missing their friends, their schools, and their normal schedules. On top of that, they are uncertain about what their next steps will look like or how the deep economic ripples caused by the pandemic will affect them. It's anything but a fun summer.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has lifted Michigan's coronavirus stay-at-home order – but not everything will re-open right away.
Salons, casinos and gyms will stay shuttered due to an inability to maintain proper social distancing.
There are now more than 65,000 probable and confirmed cases, according to the state. Nearly 6,000 Michiganders have died. That puts Michigan eighth in the nation for deaths per capita, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins.
And the burden has fallen disproportionately on black people, who are just 14% of the state's population, but make up 40% of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths.
A survey, by Global Strategy Group titled “Federal Stimulus Survey Findings” surveyed 500 Black or Hispanic small business owners and 1,219 Black or Hispanic workers across the U.S. between April 30 to May 12. It found 41% of Black or Hispanic businesses owners surveyed whom had applied for federal government relief programs did not receive relief or assistance.
Take precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus or risk a return to lockdown. That was the message from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun at a Thursday press conference. On Friday, Whitmer went a step further, signing a new executive order that makes mask-wearing mandatory in crowded public spaces.
About one out of every twelve Michigan fifth graders experienced homelessness at some point during elementary school. Because of the pandemic, those kids are now cut off from their normal sources of support.
This was supposed to be Nathan Smith’s fourth year teaching music at Oakdale Academy. The school re-opened to students last week.
Smith said the more he learned about how the school planned to re-open, the more concerned he became. He felt the school was violating state safety mandates meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
The vast majority of outbreaks (defined as two or more cases with shared exposure on school grounds) are among college students, who account for 20 of the total reported outbreaks and 1,370 of all school cases.
2-month-old baby becomes Michigan's youngest COVID-19 victim (September 17)
The country was put on edge overnight as President Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that raises concerns about their health and throws the final stretch of the presidential campaign — already upended by the pandemic — even further into unknown territory.
Michigan is seeing nearly record-high levels of COVID-19, with case rates approaching what they were in April when the pandemic first devastated the state.
Combined with rising hospitalizations and the coming cold weather, state health officials sought to raise alarm at a Tuesday press conference.
As more schools close, who gets left behind? (October 21)
The percentage of people testing positive for the virus statewide is now well above 10% over the past week. On Monday, it was over 14%, a positivity rate the state hasn’t seen since April.
"We are potentially looking at some of the deadliest, most grim days of this entire pandemic ahead of us," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, pleading with Michiganders once again to wear masks and socially distance, wash their hands, avoid large gatherings, and stay at home as much as possible in the weeks ahead.
“That's what I wish I could just, you know, scream and tell people, is like, ‘That's what could happen to you. Personally you could be alone," Eric Kumor said. "Or you could see someone you really love, and you couldn’t be with them when they’re at their most vulnerable and they’re suffering.’ Or when they’re at the end of their life. And that is something I will never forget.”
Fourteen year old Honestie Hodges passed away Sunday, from complications of COVID-19. Friends and family held a vigil Monday night.
And Hodges, now departed, carried her city’s grief one more time.
COVID ICU Nurse: "It gets worse every day." (November 25)
At the end of October, the state had 178,180 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 7,340 deaths. As of Monday, November 30, those numbers had shot up dramatically: to 360,449 confirmed cases, and 9,134 deaths.
In the midst of another deadly coronavirus surge in a pandemic that has already taken more than 267,000 American lives, including 9,134 in Michigan, there's hope on the horizon in promising news about potential COVID-19 vaccines.
For Dr. Luda Khait-Vlisides, an ER doctor at DMC Sinai-Grace in Detroit, this moment is a big deal.
“Holy sh--, this is actually going to happen! And I am so excited about it,” Khait-Vlisides said last week, as the country stood on the brink of distributing the first, much-hoped for COVID-19 vaccine.
The latest pandemic milestone in Michigan: The state has now confirmed more than half a million cases of coronavirus.
On Monday the state added 4,992 new confirmed cases, a two-day total covering test results from both Saturday and Sunday. That brings the total number since the start of the pandemic to 502,119.
The figure means about one in every 20 people in the state has tested positive for COVID-19, but even that number is likely an undercount of the true spread of the virus.
The airplane is being built as we fly it here, folks.
That’s the message from hospitals and local health officials around the state Monday, as they started (or in some cases, tried to start) vaccinating people 65 and older, as well as some essential workers.
The new variant, B.1.1.7, was identified in an adult woman from Washtenaw County. She had recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where the variant was first identified. MDHHS says the woman’s close contacts have been notified and are in quarantine. Two of those contacts have tested positive for COVID-19, though it’s unclear if they have the B.1.1.7 variant.
As of Monday, Michigan ranks 7th in total administered doses by state. When adjusted for population, however, the state fares differently, coming in 21st in administered doses adjusted for 100,000 people.
“It's more than just medical mistrust,” Debra Furr-Holden added. “It's well-earned systemic and societal mistrust for a system that doesn't treat us fairly.”
Furr-Holden said that mistrust extends far beyond Flint.
For much of last year, Michigan’s nurses and other frontline workers were sometimes called names, cursed at, or lied to.
They scrambled to fill staff shortages, track down masks or other supplies, and, in some cases, as the virus tore through their communities, found there was precious little they could do for thousands of the sick and dying.
Then, finally, vaccines arrived.
And nearly one year after the virus was first confirmed in Michigan, these same health workers are finding their days filled with an entirely different emotion: