Governor Gretchen Whitmer releases MI Safe Start plan to revive Michigan economy

Last week, after announcing that Michigan manufacturing workers would return to work on Monday, May 11, Governor Gretchen Whitmer detailed the six phases of her MI Safe Start Plan to reengage Michigan’s economy, which aligns with the recent House release perspective on economic recovery.

The governor worked with health care, business, labor and education leaders from across the Michigan Economic Recovery Council to develop the six-phase plan. The Council, which is also advised by the Detroit Regional Chamber, Michigan Business Leaders (BLM), Grand Rapids Chamber and Michigan Chamber of Commerce, is co-chaired by Gerry Anderson, the current president of the Chiefs of Michigan business. , and former chamber board chair Nancy Schlichting, former CEO of Henry Ford Health System (HFHS).

The governor announced that Michigan is currently in phase three, Flattening — the epidemic is no longer increasing and the capacity of the healthcare system is sufficient for current needs.

The phases of the pandemic include:

  1. Uncontrolled growth: The growing number of new cases every day overwhelms our healthcare systems.
  2. Persistent spread: We continue to see high case levels with concerns about the capacity of the healthcare system.
  3. Flattening: The epidemic is no longer growing and the capacity of the health system is sufficient for current needs.
  4. Improvement : Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly down.
  5. Containing: Continued improvement in case and death rates, with outbreaks quickly contained.
  6. Post-pandemic: Community spread should not return.

Michigan Economic Recovery Council Reporting Regions

Identified as the MERC regions, the Council has divided the state into eight geographic areas that will be used to track the intensity and evolution of COVID-19. When considering site risk factors, the Board and Governor also consider regional health care capacity.

Key information from the report

Q: When do we transition from phase to phase?
Guided by our public health experts, we carefully assess the best available data to understand Michigan’s level of risk and preparedness. We complement this analysis with an understanding of the contextual realities on the ground. This comprehensive assessment is an essential contribution to knowing if we are ready to move on to the next phase and, just as importantly, if the disease is rapidly expanding and if we need to adjust our approach.

It is crucial that we monitor the impact of each set of re-engagement activities before moving on to the next phase. A new transmission may take some time to become visible, and we need to understand any impact of previous re-engagement activities on the spread of a new disease before evaluating a transition to the next stage. As we move to later phases, or if our progress stalls, moving from one phase to the next may take longer.

In addition, it is important to assess the indicators together: while some may indicate a lower level of risk, others may not. For example, if cases are declining but the health system does not have the capacity to cope with a sudden increase in the number of cases, the overall risk level may still be high. We’ll also look at whether different parts of Michigan may be in different phases. This investigation must also be holistic: a region with a low rate of infection may have limited hospital capacity, for example, which exposes it to a relatively higher risk in the event of an epidemic. Where appropriate, however, regional adaptation makes sense for a state as large and diverse as ours. Examples of evidence reviewed for each of the three questions are described below:

A. Is the epidemic growing, flattening or declining?
The evidence analyzed includes:

  • The number of new cases per million: low levels of new cases may suggest limited ongoing transmission; high levels of new cases may suggest continued transmission activity.
  • Trends in daily new cases: sustained decreases may suggest that there has not been a new take-off of the disease; increases would give rise to fears that there has been a new take-off.
  • % of positive tests: if testing levels are high, a low proportion of positive tests is further evidence of declining spread and also suggests that we have a good understanding of the state of the outbreak. If there is a high proportion of positive tests, this could suggest further spread of the disease or that we have a poor understanding of the true extent of the outbreak.

B. Does our health system have the capacity to meet current needs and a potential increase, are new cases expected to emerge?
The evidence analyzed includes:

  • Hospital capacity: if hospitals are able to cope with a higher workload, this suggests that if a slight increase in the number of new cases were to occur during further re-engagement, our healthcare system would not be overwhelmed. If hospitals are unable to expand in this way, any further spread of cases could threaten our healthcare system.
  • Availability of PPE: whether hospitals have enough PPE to handle the surge in cases suggests
    ability of the health system to handle a slight increase in new cases.

C. Are our testing and tracing efforts sufficient to monitor the outbreak and
control its spread?
The evidence analyzed includes:

  • Testing capacity: if we are able to ensure that those at risk in each phase of re-engagement have access to testing when needed, we can give individuals the information they need to stay safe and, at the same time, enable us to closely monitor the impact of re-engagement activities on the growth of our cases. If we don’t have this testing capability, it will be more difficult to give our people and decision makers the information they need.
  • Effectiveness of tracing and containment: if we are able to quickly track all newly identified cases and associated contacts, and if these people effectively self-isolate, we can better contain any further increases in the spread of the disease. Otherwise, transmission is likely to be higher, increasing our risk.
    As new guidance continues to be provided by the CDC and other public health experts, our assessment will adjust to be continually informed by the best available science.