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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

Michigan Jobless Claims Ahead Of ’19; Virus Cases At 17,221

Governor Gretchen Whitmer sitting at a desk
Courtesy Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer provides an update on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Monday, April 6, 2020.

Nearly 800,000 people have filed for unemployment benefits in Michigan since mid-March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday, detailing the extraordinary impact of the coronavirus on the economy with only businesses deemed essential remaining open.
Whitmer said her stay-at-home order will be extended in the days ahead. Michigan, meanwhile, reported at least 17,221 coronavirus cases and 727 deaths, mostly concentrated in Detroit and the suburbs.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s medical executive. “Our hospitals continue to be overwhelmed, especially in southeast Michigan.”


The state reported 1,503 new confirmed cases and 110 additional deaths — the largest daily jump in deaths yet.

Detroit police over the weekend issued 74 tickets for $1,000 each to people who violated Whitmer’s order against large gatherings, Assistant Chief James White said.

With 154 infected officers, the police department is “not going to be sympathetic,” Mayor Mike Duggan said.


Whitmer said more people have applied for unemployment aid in the last two weeks than in all of 2019, when the state’s jobless rate was under 4%. She promised that people would get paid, despite computer woes and bureaucratic red tape, and said the size of the staff to handle the crush was growing.

“We will get to you,” the governor said.


Henry Ford Health System, which has five hospitals, said more than 600 employees have tested positive for the virus since March 12. It’s not known whether they got it at work or through community spread.

State Rep. Karen Whitsett of Detroit tested positive for COVID-19 but said she’s doing well after being given hydroxychloroquine. She is the second House member with a confirmed case, while a third, Democratic Rep. Isaac Robinson of Detroit, likely died from the disease.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.


Detroit’s convention center could gets its first COVID-19 patients this week. The federal government has turned the TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Center, into a 1,000-bed site.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll immediately see a thousand patients,” Khaldun said. “But we’ll have enough staff to start seeing patients as they’re transferred from other hospitals. We still need medical volunteers.”

Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi has been selected as a second field hospital, the state and Oakland County announced. Other sites are under consideration to serve as alternate care facilities, too.


The state for the first time released data on hospitalizations, though it also called it incomplete. On Saturday, there were at least 3,768 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state, 89% of them in southeastern Michigan. Nearly 1,400 were on ventilators.

Khaldun said the state must do more to improve reporting by hospitals, a day after the head of Michigan’s largest health system, Beaumont, called for real-time data. Beaumont was treating more than 1,000 patients Sunday. About 15% of hospitals were not reporting bed counts and ventilator capacity, and 42% were not reporting their inventory of personal protective equipment.

Khaldun said the state this week would start posting the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Some nurses at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit were sent home Sunday night during a sit-in over the appropriate level of staffing. The hospital called it a “work stoppage” by a “very small number” of nurses.

“We refuse to accept unsafe patient loads,” Sal Hadwan, one of the nurses who was sent home, said in a Facebook video.


The person with groceries might have a badge. State troopers in an Upper Peninsula community have volunteered to drop off food ordered from Jack’s Fresh Market in Manistique.

“Any little bit we can do to help the community get through this, we’re willing to go that extra mile,” Sgt. Mark Giannunzio told WLUC-TV.

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