LANSING, Mich (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday repeated her plea to Michigan residents to limit gatherings at Thanksgiving and keep loved ones safe.
Whitmer's appeal came as the state health department reported 7,592 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 134 deaths, including 61 that were added after a records review.
“We’re preserving future holiday gatherings together by taking this seriously now, by not gathering with people outside of your household this Thanksgiving,” Whitmer said. "It is an act of kindness and love.”
Instead of joining the crowds that come with Black Friday shopping, the governor encouraged residents to buy from small local businesses.
“If you walk into a business and they’re not wearing masks and not looking out for your safety, I encourage you to walk out,” Whitmer said.
Thursday was the second day of a three-week shutdown of indoor dining at restaurants and bars, the Whitmer administration's latest strategy to reduce spread of the virus. In-person classes at high schools and colleges are also prohibited, and casinos, theaters and exercise classes are closed.
Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, posted a social media video opposed to “dictatorship,” though she later apologized, saying she knows struggling business owners and was “caught up in the heat of the moment.”
Whitmer said she sent a letter to President Donald Trump and Congress, urging them to pass a COVID-19 relief bill, especially for small businesses and the unemployed.
As daily case numbers surge, Michigan’s chief medical officer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said hospitals were averaging 79% capacity. The state has the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the country.
Khaldun encouraged people to download the MI Covid Alert app to be notified if they've been exposed to the virus. Almost 300,000 people have the app.
Recent announcements about COVID-19 vaccines have spurred excitement, but Khaldun warned that it could take months before a vaccine is distributed to the general public.
Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.