President Trump Declares Major Disaster In Michigan Amid Pandemic

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)

By Sara Burnett, Associated Press

President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan, providing additional money to address the coronavirus pandemic as a top health official warned the situation in Detroit, a national “hot spot” for new cases of the coronavirus, will worsen. Michigan officials also reported 19 additional virus-related deaths and nearly 1,000 new confirmed cases Saturday.


The White House announced the disaster declaration Saturday, making 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.”

Michigan officials on Saturday reported 993 additional COVID-19 illnesses, the largest daily spike so far, to reach 4,650 cases. At least 111 people have died from the virus around 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.”

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 issued an executive order Saturday requiring communities statewide to restore water service.

“This is a critical step both for the health of families living without a reliable water source, and for slowing the spread of the coronavirus,” Whitmer said.

The state also established a $2 million fund through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to help provide funding to local communities to help reconnect homes to their water supplies.

The order is effective for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.


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.


The North American International Auto Show announced Saturday evening that it’s canceled its Detroit show because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The show was scheduled for June.

NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts said the move is disappointing, but “there is nothing more important to us than the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of Detroit and Michigan.”

Organizers added that the next annual show in Detroit will be in June 2021.

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