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MEDICAL LEADERS SEE STATE AT TIPPING POINT IN BATTLE WITH VIRUS

**This news release is shared on behalf of DTE Energy**

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 9, 2020 – A coalition of healthcare and business leaders from across the state rang alarm bells today, warning that the state is at a dangerous tipping point in its battle with the coronavirus and at risk of losing ground it has sacrificed for months to gain.

After achieving steady declines in the number of new COVID-19 cases over the two-month period between early April and early June, Michigan has seen increases in daily cases for nearly the month since.  Just prior to the holiday, on July 2, the state recorded 543 new cases – the highest daily total since May 29, and recorded more than 1,400 new cases between July 2-4, pushing the seven-day average to the highest level in over a month.

Additionally, new polling data suggests a worrisome shift in the mindset of many in Michigan.  A poll of 1,000 Michigan residents conducted by TargetPoint Consulting found that nearly 40% of adults are less concerned about the virus today than they were a month ago – even as case counts are on the rise.  Only 17% of those polled were more concerned.

“The combination of rising case counts and declining vigilance by many is placing our state at a tipping point in our battle with this disease,” said Wright Lassiter III, President and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, headquartered in Detroit.  “We cannot become complacent.  We’ve come too far to yield hard fought gains now.”

The rising case levels are increasingly concentrated in younger residents, particularly those in their 20s, where daily new cases per million were nearly four times the levels seen in Michiganders in their 60s, and two-and-a-half times higher than for those in their 40s or 50s.

“While young people may feel less vulnerable themselves, they play an unfortunately critical role in spreading the virus, ultimately raising the risk for our most vulnerable,” added Lassiter.

But it is not only among the young that disciplines are weakening.  TargetPoint found that nearly half of the state’s population (48%) were “conflicted, confused or casual” with respect to following health and safety guidelines, versus the remaining 52% who fell in the “committed” category.

“There is a sizeable minority either currently ignoring or, more often, relaxing their following of safety best practices,” said Michael Meyers, president of TargetPoint Consulting. “Contradictory early guidance also appears to be contributing to confusion as some polled aren’t certain what to believe and what not to believe.”

Tina Freese Decker, President & CEO of Spectrum Health of Grand Rapids, pointed out that the worrisome trends in Michigan are emerging as other states have experienced serious outbreaks in recent weeks.

“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,” said Freese Decker.  “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.”

Despite the shifting mindsets and weakening safety practices, Michiganders remain concerned about the economic impacts of the coronavirus and its potential resurgence:

  • 62% of those surveyed are concerned or extremely concerned about our economy remaining in recession or entering a depression, resulting in significant financial harm
  • 71% are concerned or extremely concerned about a second wave of COVID-19 hitting the state in the fall

Ed Ness, President and CEO of Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, added, “We have worked so hard to reopen the economy across the state in a safe manner. We need to remain diligent in our efforts until a vaccine is available. Otherwise we risk overburdening our state’s limited healthcare resources and putting at risk the recent economic progress we’ve made.”

States around the country that are experiencing a COVID-19 resurgence have been forced to reimpose social and economic restrictions.  “The best prescription for returning our economy to full health is to maintain the discipline required to crush this virus,” said Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy Executive Chairman, 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.”

The healthcare and business leader coalition, consisting of representatives from the state’s largest hospitals and companies, has commissioned a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to encourage Michiganders to adhere to safety best practices.

All three healthcare leaders suggested that it was critical for Michiganders to remain disciplined and committed to the basics – especially wearing masks when in indoor public spaces and avoiding crowded social gatherings involving large groups.  “We can return to socializing – but we need to be smart about it,” said Lassiter. “Share a drink with six close friends outdoors rather than with 60 in a shoulder-to-shoulder gathering.”

Coalition Members

 

DTE Energy Dow Ilitch Holdings
Henry Ford Health System University of Michigan UAW
Greater Detroit Health Council Michigan State University Bridgewater Interiors
Spectrum Health Wayne State University Steelcase
Beaumont Health General Motors Meijer
Allegan Co. Health Department Michigan AFL-CIO Wolverine Worldwide
MI Dept. of Health & Human Services Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity Michigan Health & Hospital Association
TCF Financial Quicken Loans Herman Miller
Munson Healthcare Barton Malow Lear
Oakland University Small Business Association of Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

 

For further information, members of the media may contact:

Andrea Bitely, 517-256-0665, abitely@truscottrossman.com

 

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