For the second straight day, Michigan had more than 1,800 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Friday.
The state health department reported 1,873 new cases on Thursday and 1,826 new cases Friday. That brings the state's total number of cases to 154,688.
There were 18 new deaths related to COVID-19 in Michigan on Friday, less than half of what was reported Thursday (43). The state's confirmed death toll is now 7,147.
The Ottawa County Department of Public Health reported 67 new cases of the virus Friday, and no new deaths related to COVID-19. That brings the county's total case count to 4,708, with 3,397 recovered and 72 deaths.
Muskegon County added 39 cases and three deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday, according to the state health department's report. That pushes the county's total case count to 1,936, with 80 deaths.
Whitmer signs bills to protect businesses from virus suits
LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday made Michigan businesses and other employers immune from lawsuits filed by customers or workers who contract the coronavirus, as long as they have followed all safety protocols.
She also codified rules retroactively shielding hospitals and other medical providers from pandemic-related lawsuits except in cases of willful misconduct or gross negligence, from late March to mid-July, in the wake of a state Supreme Court decision invalidating her executive orders.
Another newly signed law, which is similar to one of the orders, prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who stay home because they have been exposed to COVID-19.
"I look forward to more collaboration with the Legislature where we can find common ground," the Democratic governor said in a statement after signing the legislation.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce and AFSCME Council 25, a union, applauded the step.
"With these protections, our job providers will have peace of mind that if they act responsibly and invest time and money to follow public health protocols, they will be protected from lawsuits related to this pandemic," said a sponsor, Republican Rep. Graham Filler of DeWitt. "Workers will have the peace of mind that they will not be punished for following public health protocols."
The Republican-led Senate and House successfully challenged Whitmer's ability to unilaterally keep in place orders to curb and respond to the virus without legislative approval. Her administration has reinstated mask requirements, size limits on gatherings and other regulations under a different law, though a chiropractor and Christian school sued to block them in the past week.
Whitmer on Thursday also enacted a bill to codify and augment her administration's recently announced changes related to the care of nursing home residents recovering from the virus. A nursing home can be a designated "care and recovery" center to house COVID-19 patients — similarly to current "hub" system — only if it has a federal staffing rating of at least three out of five stars, a distinct area for infected patients and staff who are solely dedicated to treating them.
A person hospitalized with the virus cannot be discharged to a nursing home if he or she has fewer than 72 hours left in his or her isolation period, unless the hospital has reached its surge capacity. A nursing home not deemed a care and recovery center can admit or readmit infected residents if it has a state-approved designated area for them.
Nursing home residents account for 2,222, or 30 percent, of Michigan's 7,464 confirmed or probable deaths related to the virus. Twenty-two workers at such facilities have also died.
France surpasses 1 million confirmed virus cases amid spike
PARIS (AP) — French health authorities say France has recorded over 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, becoming the second country in Western Europe after Spain to reach that number of known infections.
The national health agency released new figures showing that tests had confirmed at least 1,041,075 cases in France this year, including 42,032 new cases reported in the past 24 hours.
Experts say the real numbers of infections are probably much higher than the ones governments around the world are reporting because of a lack of tests early in the pandemic, asymptomatic cases and other issues.
Like other countries in Europe, France has seen its daily case counts rise sharply in recent weeks as the virus rebounds in Europe. COVID-19 patients now occupy more than 42 percent of ICU beds nationally, and 64 percent in the Paris region.
More than 11,000 new COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized in the past week, including 1,714 who are in intensive care, according to the national health agency.
Speaking earlier Friday after visiting a hospital in Pontoise, a suburb north of Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said "the epidemic is very strongly accelerating."
The French government has expanded an overnight curfew it imposed in eight urban areas of France last week to encompass 38 more regions and Polynesia. The 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfews and other public health measures will last for "at least six weeks," Macron said.
The extension means that 46 million of France's 67 million people will be under curfews that prohibit them from being out and about during those hours except for limited reasons, such as walking a dog, traveling to and from work and catching a train or flight.
France has reported over 34,000 virus-related deaths, one of the highest tolls in Europe.