Michigan reports 787 COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths

Michigan Chamber says ‘shelter in place’ would hurt economy

By: - March 21, 2020 3:52 pm

COVID-19 | CDC image by Hannah A Bullock, Azaibi Tamin

As of 10 a.m. Saturday, there are now almost 790 positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, although state officials believe the actual number of cases is much higher.

That count is a 238-case increase from Friday morning, and comes with the addition of two more deaths since then; one in Oakland County Friday evening and one in Detroit. There have been five deaths total in the state.

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 new state-reported numbers only recently began incorporating data from other commercial and private labs and hospitals around Michigan, which caused an apparent spike in numbers that speaks more to the number of cases just now being publicly reported.

As has been the trend since the first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state on March 10, the number of cases in Detroit, Oakland County and Wayne County continue to increase at a higher rate than other areas.

The city of Detroit reported 99 additional cases and one death since Friday, while Oakland County reported 45 more cases and one death. Wayne County saw a rise of 34 cases. Macomb County saw an additional 34.

Earlier, the Oakland County Health Division issued emergency orders to close all shopping malls, playground equipment, effective at noon Saturday to combat the spread of COVID-19. The directive also requires all childcare centers to implement a daily screening protocol for children, staff, parents and visitors. The orders are set to last until at least April 17.


The World Health Organization reports that there are 266,073 confirmed cases worldwide and 11,184 deaths. In the United States, there are 15,219 confirmed cases and 201 deaths.

Michigan Chamber comes out against ‘shelter in place’ 

On Friday, the state’s most powerful business lobby, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urging her against a “shelter in place” order for the sake of Michigan’s economy. The group is closely aligned with Republicans.

Whitmer has been adamant in recent days that she is not yet considering a a measure for the state, although states like Illinois and California have instituted them. Under shelter-in-place orders, 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.

Michigan Chamber CEO Rich Studley at a press conference on hiking road funding, Aug. 20, 2019 | Nick Manes

In the letter, Rich Studley, chamber CEO and president, writes that such a directive would be embarking down an “economically damaging road.”

“Quite frankly, we are concerned that an untimely or overly broad order would create unnecessary and long-term damage to Michigan’s economic health,” Studley writes. “… We would urge you to allow businesses to continue operations unless there is a high public health risk to employees or the general public.”

In a tweet responding to the letter, TechTown Detroit CEO Ned Staebler called the chamber’s position “absolutely indefensible and shameful.”


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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).