A coalition of business and health care leaders across the state today warned Michigan is at a “dangerous tipping point” in the COVID-19 pandemic and “at risk of losing ground it has sacrificed for months to gain.”
The group cited increases in new daily cases in the last month after two months of steady decline. They include a record 610 new cases Wednesday, and more than 1,400 between July 2 and 4.
The “worrisome trends” in Michigan occur as other states experience serious outbreaks, said Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health of Grand Rapids. Spectrum is part of the statewide coalition of more than 30 corporations, health care providers, labor unions and state agencies.
“States like Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Texas have seen serious spikes in cases, and now 39 states around the country have increasing case counts,” Freese Decker said in a statement. “We are seeing the early signs of an upturn in Michigan. We can lower our risk if we all work together. We must continue to be vigilant by wearing masks, staying six feet apart and washing our hands. Let’s encourage our family, friends and communities to practice these preventive measures together, frequently and consistently – to help stop the spread.”
Other West Michigan companies involved in the coalition include Steelcase Inc., Meijer Inc., Wolverine Worldwide Inc., and Herman Miller Inc. The coalition has commissioned a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to encourage residents to adhere to safety best practices.
The coalition today also cited data from a poll with 1,000 Michigan residents that detected a “worrisome shift in the mindset of many in Michigan.”
Nearly four in 10 adults respondents “are less concerned about the virus today than they were a month ago — even as case counts are on the rise,” the coalition said. Just 17 percent of respondents said they were more concerned.
More worrisome is that the new cases are more concentrated in younger people, the coalition added. Cases involving people in their 20s are at nearly four times the levels of residents in their 60s, and two and a half times those in their 40s and 50s.
“We can return to socializing — but we need to be smart about it,” said Wright Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. “Share a drink with six close friends outdoors rather than with 60 in a shoulder-to-shoulder gathering.”
In the coalition’s survey conducted by TargetPoint Consulting in Alexandria, Va., 48 percent of respondents were “conflicted, confused or casual” in following health and safety guidelines. The remaining 52 percent were “committed” to them.
“The best prescription for returning our economy to full health is to maintain the discipline required to crush this virus,” said DTE Energy Executive Chairman Gerry Anderson, who is helping spearhead the coalition of healthcare and business leaders. “It’s that simple — if we want economic health, we need to beat this disease. And that requires all of us staying focused and doing our part.”
As of Wednesday, Michigan had recorded 67,237 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,015 deaths.