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Michigan 'several weeks away' from peak of virus

Michigan's top doctor is saying predictive models show the state is still weeks away from the peak of the virus.
Credit: AP
A sign encourages the public to stay at home and stay safe during the coronavirus outbreak Friday, March 27, 2020, in downtown St. Joseph, Mich. Officials declared a state of emergency for Berrien County on Thursday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.(Don Campbell/The Herald-Palladium via AP)

LANSING, Mich. — It's been just under three weeks since Michigan first confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the number of positive cases has continued to increase. 

Michigan's Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the virus continues to spread rapidly. As of Monday, there were nearly 6,500 cases in the state and 184 deaths--2,800 of those cases were confirmed in just three days.

"We are still in the early stages of in Michigan and cases have not yet peaked," said Khaldun. 

The state has been developing predictive models to determine how the virus has spread. "Our current models suggest we are likely several weeks away from the peak in the number of cases here in Michigan," said Khaldun. 

RELATED: Why Michigan isn't reporting recovered coronavirus cases yet

It's been one week since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer instituted a stay at home order, which bans all non-essential travel. The order is set to expire on April 13. 

The goal of social distancing is to slow the spread of the disease so that hospitals do not get overwhelmed, but public officials said it will still take some time to see the impact of that. In the meantime, Khaldun said several hospitals in the state are at capacity due to an influx of patients related to COVID-19. 

Last week, the state implemented a hospital load balancing plan, in which healthcare facilities were asked to open up 10% of their bed capacity for patients from other hospitals. Additionally, alternative care facilities are being developed, like the TCF Center in Detroit.

RELATED: Map: Where are COVID-19 cases in Michigan?

Despite all the steps public health officials are taking, Khaldun emphasized the importance of people staying home as the primary means of fighting the spread of the virus. She said no one should be leaving their house for anything non-essential. 

"Kids should not be outside playing with their neighbors. People should not be playing with each other. People should not be leaving their homes to buy things that are not essential. This is not the time to have extended family gatherings. People must stay home. If we do the right thing and we do it now, we will be able to keep people from getting sick and save lives," Khaldun said. 

On Sunday, President Donald Trump also extended the federal guidelines for social distancing by 30 days. They now run through April 30. 

Watch the full press conference with Whitmer and Khaldun here

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