Berrien County reports six additional COVID-19 deaths as Michigan loosens COVID-19 restrictions

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — The death toll of COVID-19 rose in southwest Michigan Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, Berrien County reported six additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing its total death count to 40. The victims include one woman in her 90s, three women in their 80s, one woman in her 70s, and one man in his 80s.

“Our thoughts are with all families who are grieving the loss of their loved ones at this time,” a representative for the health department wrote in a public announcement.

To date, Berrien County has reported 564 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 363 recoveries.

Statewide, Michigan has seen 53,510 COVID-19 cases and 5,129 deaths. Also in southwest Michigan, Cass County reported 68 cases and two deaths, while Van Buren County reported 117 cases and six deaths.

Also Thursday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that she signed executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26, as part of her MI Safe Start plan. The governor’s executive order also lifts the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide beginning on Friday, May 29. The order also authorizes small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.

“The data shows that Michigan is ready to phase in these sectors of our economy, but we must stay vigilant and ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “On behalf of our brave first responders on the front lines of this crisis, we must continue to all do our part by staying safer at home. We owe it to them to do what we can to stop the spread of this virus.”