4th person in Michigan dies of coronavirus

By: - March 21, 2020 7:09 am

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses | CDC illustration

A 50-year-old Oakland County resident has died of COVID-19, the disease from a new coronavirus, the Oakland County Health Division reported Friday night.

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 man was 50 years old and had underlying health conditions. He is the fourth person in Michigan to die of COVID-19. As of Friday afternoon, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) had reported 549 COVID-19 cases across the state, with 202 cases in Oakland County. However, health experts believe the actual number of cases is much higher, in part, due to a shortage of tests.

“This is a tragic loss and we share our heartfelt condolences with the family,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “This is also an important reminder of the seriousness of this virus and the importance of personal and community-wide efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are 234,073 cases worldwide and 9,840 have died. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention report as of Friday, there were 15,219 cases in the United States and 201 deaths.

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan has no plans to issue a stay-at-home order in Michigan as other states like California and Illinois have done. Under shelter-in-place measures, residents are only permitted to leave their homes for limited reasons, such as seeking medical care, filling up their vehicles, taking a walk or buying groceries.

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“If and when we are in a position where we think that is an important next move, I will absolutely communicate that personally to the public. We are not there,” Whitmer said. “If and when we get to a point where people are not adhering to the counsel of the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and best practices and we need to take another step, we will consider doing that when the time is right, but we are not there.”

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.