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Evidence of coronavirus community spread in Michigan, health official says

Michigan health officials said they are expecting more positive cases of COVID-19 in coming days as the state lab tests more specimens.

LANSING, Mich. — Sunday, state officials said cases of coronavirus continue to rise in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, chief medical officer Joneigh Khaldun and Col. Joe Gasper of Michigan State Police held a press conference to give an update on COVID-19 in the state. 

Michigan had 20 new positive cases, bringing the state total to 53.

"We continue to run tests at our state lab every day," said Khaldun. "And I expect there to be more cases identified. There is evidence of community spread and our lab testing data does not give us the full picture of what is going on as far as this disease in our community."

The state lab is able to run 115 specimens every day, Khaldun said, but state officials are looking to expand the capacity in coming days as hospitals are getting ready to launch their own testing capabilities. 

"Given the volume of testing, that may not get back to people for 48-72 hours," said Khaldun.

Do you have more questions about COVID-19 in Michigan? Check out the state's website. 

The first positive cases in Michigan were reported on Tuesday. While the numbers continue to climb, Khaldun said there is no need to panic. 

"Most people who get this disease will have a mild illness. However, as a community we do have to take this seriously," she said. "If we do not limit the slope and speed with which new people are infected, there will be serious consequences."

Both the governor and Khaldun urged the public to continue practicing social distancing, and Whitmer also suggested people stagger their visits to the grocery store to allow retailers the time to restock. 

"Please remember, even if you are young, even if you feel healthy, you can unknowingly be carrying this virus," said Whitmer. "And take it seriously. It's not just about protecting yourself; it's about protecting everyone."

In Michigan, Whitmer has ordered that all K-12 schools be closed for three weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus. She also banned public gatherings of more than 250 people. 

Vice President Mike Pence, who is heading up the national COVID-19 task force, said he will be talking with governors on Monday about the federal response to the virus. 

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