Whitmer activates State Emergency Operations Center for coronavirus

By: - February 28, 2020 1:42 pm

State Emergency Operations Center | Madeline Ciak

During a news conference held Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), a virus originating in China and that has sickened 81,000 people globally and killed more than 2,600 people, has potential to impact “nearly every aspect of our lives, state government or public schools or businesses, public gatherings and events.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the State Emergency Operations Center | Madeline Ciak

And that’s why Whitmer has activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). The SEOC is located at the Michigan State Police headquarters, in Dimondale, outside Lansing. 

Michigan State Police Captain Emmitt McGowan added that the SEOC is staffed by members of state agencies for decision making, like the governor, state director of emergency management and homeland security. The SEOC’s job is to coordinate with state, local and federal agencies to help prevent the spread of the virus. McGowan said the SEOC is continuing to monitor the threat of coronavirus in Michigan.

Additionally, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has also activated the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). CHECC’s job is to support local and state responses when it comes to COVID-19.

While there have been no confirmed positive cases of the virus in Michigan, the DHHS’ Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said that since its activation, CHECC has been supporting local health departments and home monitoring of people with recent travel to China. 

Khaldun added that in doing so, the DHHS and CHECC would find out if a person had developed, they would be appraised of the situation quicker, and that the person who has symptoms would be connected to the appropriate medical resources. In addition, Khaldun says that the DHHS’ state lab has been preparing diligently to handle an outbreak of coronavirus for several weeks. Khaldun also announced as of Thursday, DHHS and CHECC can now test for COVID-19 in state because they don’t have to send samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun at the State Emergency Operations Center | Madeline Ciak

“While the current risk to the general public of getting COVID-19 is low, we need to use all of our public health tools to make sure we are prepared,” said Khaldun.

Whitmer and Khladun also shared ways to prevent the spread of viruses like the flu, cold and COVID-19, which include:

  • Washing your hands multiple times a day for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, face, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home if you’re sick.

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Madeline Ciak
Madeline Ciak

Madeline Ciak is a former Michigan Advance reporter. She’s a University of Michigan-Flint graduate and previously worked as a digital media manager at NBC25/FOX66 in Flint and a weekend producer at ABC12.