Breaking News
More () »

What Michigan is doing to prepare for coronavirus

State and local health officials in Michigan are preparing for the potential spread of coronavirus.
Credit: TEGNA

Although Michigan has no confirmed cases of coronavirus—COVID-19—to date, state health officials are making preparations in case of an outbreak. 

Saturday, Feb. 29, the first American with coronavirus died in Washington state. Officials said the man had no history of travel outside of the U.S. or known contact with anyone who had COVID-19.  

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that was first detected in the Wuhan region of China at the end of 2019. Since then, it has infected thousands of people worldwide. 

RELATED: This interactive map shows all reported coronavirus cases in the world

What is Michigan doing to prepare?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer activated the State Emergency Operations Center Friday, Feb. 28 to coordinate with state, local and federal agencies to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

The emergency operations center will facilitate communication between every branch of government, which are working to address coronavirus. 

"We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution," Whitmer said. "We will continue to take every necessary precaution to keep Michiganders safe."  

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been or are monitoring 360 people for coronavirus. People who are being monitored have recently traveled to China or been in contact with people who recently traveled. 

Health officials said only 76 people remain under active monitoring. 

RELATED: Facts Not Fear | What you need to know about the COVID-19 outbreak

Michigan has sent specimens from five people to the CDC be tested for coronavirus; all of those cases came back negative. The state also now has the resources to test for coronavirus and have the results back in four hours, Whitmer said. 

Michigan has only had five people be tested for coronavirus; all of those cases came back negative. As of Feb. 27, the state now has the resources to test for coronavirus and have the results back in four hours, Whitmer said.

Saturday, MDHHS said the in-state Bureau of Laboratories received and tested a specimen from an Oakland County resident. The results came back negative. This was the in-state lab's first test for coronavirus. 

“I am pleased that the process for testing at our state laboratory is working well, and that we were able to get this result within hours,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at MDHHS.  

Individuals who are under investigation for the virus are asked to remain in home quarantine. 

The current risk of getting coronavirus in the United States is still low, but officials across the country are taking steps to prepare for a possible outbreak. 

"We will hope for the best, but we will prepare for the worst," said Whitmer. 

On March 3, as cases of coronavirus continue to pop up across the country, the governor announced the creation of four task forces to combat the spread of the virus. They are:

  1. The COVID-19 Task Force on State Operations, which will oversee all aspects of state operations, including employment and facilities. 
  2. The COVID-19 Task Force on Health and Human Services, which will cover the provision of medical and human services.
  3. The COVID-19 Task Force on Education, which will cover all K-12 public schools, universities and colleges
  4. The COVID-19 Task Force on Economy/Workforce, which will cover the general economic impact, workforce, supply chain and business continuity.

The state health department has set up a website for people who have additional questions about coronavirus. They will also be sharing updates on the situation in Michigan there. 

RELATED: Whitmer activates State Emergency Operations Center for Michigan's coronavirus response

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has been working in his capacity as the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee to make sure the United States is prepared to handle coronavirus. 

Peters said people traveling into the United States are being screened to determine if they need to be monitored and quarantined. The senator has been working with the Trump administration to ensure the United States has the resources to deal with a potential coronavirus outbreak. 

What are the symptoms and ways to prevent COVID-19? 

The CDC says patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of: 

  • Fever 
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath 

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.   
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.   
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.   
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.   
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.  

RELATED: What are coronavirus symptoms?

What is the federal government's response to coronavirus? 

President Donald Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. response to the global coronavirus outbreak. 

Trump asked for $2.5 billion to combat the virus. 

RELATED: Trump appoints Mike Pence to lead coronavirus response

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC's director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said the virus was "rapidly evolving and spreading" and that as more countries experience the spread of the coronavirus, Americans may have to prepare for the possibility of a U.S. outbreak.  

The CDC is actively monitoring 

More than 80,000 people have been infected globally in the COVID-19 outbreak. More than 77,000 infections and more than 2,600 deaths have been reported in China.  

More stories on 13 ON YOUR SIDE: 


►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out