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Trump declares a major disaster in Michigan in response to coronavirus pandemic

A sign encourages residents to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak Friday in St. Joseph, Mich.
A sign encourages residents to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak Friday in St. Joseph, Mich.
(Associated Press)

President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan on Saturday, providing additional money to address the coronavirus pandemic as a top health official warned that the situation in Detroit, a national hot spot for new cases, will worsen.

Michigan officials reported nearly 1,000 new cases and 19 additional virus-related deaths Saturday.

The disaster declaration makes money available for crisis counseling and other emergency measures. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had sought funds to set up field hospitals and help provide food and housing to people affected by the virus.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on “CBS This Morning” on Friday that Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans “will have a worse week next week.”

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The 993 additional COVID-19 illnesses reported Saturday were the largest daily increase so far and brought the state’s total to 4,650 cases. At least 111 people have died from the virus in the state.

Three counties in the Detroit area — Wayne, Oakland and Macomb — account for 87% of the state’s deaths and 82% of the illnesses.

The declaration follows a sometimes bitter back-and-forth between Trump and Whitmer, a Democrat who has criticized the Trump administration for being slow to respond to the pandemic.

Trump said in an interview this week that “we’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor from, you know who I’m talking about, from Michigan.” He later said: ”We don’t like to see the complaints.”

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Whitmer tweeted in response that she had “asked repeatedly and respectfully for help,” adding, “You said you stand with Michigan — prove it.”

On Friday night Trump tweeted again, referring to the governor as “Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer” and saying she “Likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude!”

Whitmer didn’t immediately respond to Trump’s tweet on Saturday. She did say in a tweet that the state had received more than 112,000 protective masks from the national strategic stockpile, with 8,000 more on the way.


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