Michigan COVID-19 cases climb to 549, Whitmer pauses non-essential medical procedures

By: - March 20, 2020 3:27 pm

Susan J. Demas

On the second day with state-reported numbers that incorporate data from other labs and hospitals around Michigan, the number of positive tests for COVID-19 in the state now hangs just below 550.

This new count, which remains especially dense in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, is an increase of 225 cases from Thursday. However, officials believe the actual number of cases is much higher, but there’s a shortage of tests. There have been three deaths.

A statewide coronavirus hotline is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136. Information can be found on the DHHS website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website.

The World Health Organization reports that there are 209,839 confirmed cases worldwide and 8.778 deaths. In the United States, there are 7,087 confirmed cases and 100 deaths.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to give another update on the state’s COVID-19 response Friday afternoon.

Earlier on Friday, Whitmer announced yet another executive order related to the outbreak — this time, directing that all non-essential medical and dental procedures be postponed until after the COVID-19 outbreak.

With Executive Order 2020-17, select medical and dental facilities have until 5 p.m. Saturday to perform those procedures or wait until Michigan’s state of emergency is lifted.

“My number one priority remains to flatten the curve and protect the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Our health care workers are on the front lines every day protecting Michiganders during these extraordinary and difficult times.

The Legislature is meeting amid coronavirus. Some lawmakers are worried.

“By postponing all non-essential medical and dental procedures, we expect to reduce the strain on the health care system and protect people. My administration will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of the disease and ensure our children, families, and businesses have the support they need during these challenging times,” Whitmer said.

Medical procedures that must be postponed include:

  • Joint replacement
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Cosmetic surgery

Dental procedures that must be postponed include:

  • Any cosmetic or aesthetic procedures, e.g. veneers, teeth bleaching and cosmetic bonding
  • All routine hygiene appointments
  • Any orthodontic procedures that do not relieve pain or infection, restore oral function or are not trauma-related
  • Initiation of any crowns, bridges, or dentures that do not relieve pain or infection, restore oral function or are not trauma-related
  • Any periodontal plastic surgery
  • Extraction of asymptomatic non-carious teeth
  • Recall visits for periodontally healthy patients

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There are exclusions from Whitmer’s order, particularly when it comes to important medical procedures. This include those related to:

  • Emergency or trauma-related procedures and surgeries where postponement would significantly impact the health, safety, and welfare of the patient
  • Advanced cardiovascular disease (including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias) that would prolong life
  • Oncological testing, treatment, and related procedures
  • Pregnancy-related visits and procedures
  • Labor and delivery
  • Organ transplantation
  • Procedures related to dialysis

“By putting this order into place, we will be able to reduce the strain on our healthcare community,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

“Health care professionals are working around the clock to help protect and treat Michiganders, and by temporarily postponing non-essential procedures, this will free up staff and critical resources that will be needed to address the ongoing public health emergency that we are facing.” 

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).