With Thanksgiving behind us and the leftover stuffing nearly gone, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is already eyeing the next holiday on the horizon and how it could contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.
“We all know the next two months are going to be hard. Too many people traveled for Thanksgiving. And we will see our numbers increase, very likely, because of it. And that will coincide with the next big holiday, Christmas. Too many people are considering traveling and I’m reiterating: please don’t,” Whitmer said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Ahead of Thanksgiving, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services put in place a three-week “pause” that limited in-person gatherings to between two households, stopped sports and in-person instruction for high school students and closed dine-in service at restaurants.
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Those restrictions are scheduled to last until Dec. 8.
Asked by MLive if she was considering extending the pause, Whitmer said nothing was predetermined and it was too early to say, but she would be consulting health experts and examining data in the coming days.
Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said experts are “cautiously optimistic,” given the latest data, that more people started wearing masks, not gathering and maintaining six feet of distance from one another in early November.
The test positivity rate is down from 14% on Nov. 16 to 13% now, she said. The case rate is at 608 cases per million people and has been declining over the past week.
However, she is watching for an increase stemming from the Thanksgiving holiday.
“That is one thing that I am very concerned about, is that people may have gathered or traveled over the Thanksgiving break. Any increases in cases from the Thanksgiving holiday we would not expect to see for two to three weeks in our data,” Khaldun said.
She encouraged those who did gather over Thanksgiving to isolate as much as possible for 14 days and wear masks around others.
According to holiday guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, virtual holiday gatherings pose the lowest risk.
The CDC recommends anybody with COVID-19, with COVID-19 symptoms, waiting for COVID-19 test results, may have been exposed to somebody with COVID-19 in the last 14 days or is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 does not participate in any in-person gatherings.
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