By Jon King/

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency after officials say two people in the Detroit area have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

A woman in Oakland County had traveled outside the country, while a man from Wayne County had traveled within the U.S. They are in hospitals and are middle-aged. Both cases will be reviewed by federal health experts. Whitmer said by declaring a state of emergency, several state agencies and task forces will be activated to collaborate on response, assist local governments and slow the spread of the virus. She urged people to wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. More recommendations are expected in coming days.

In Livingston County, Health Department Director Dianne McCormick says while there are no confirmed cases here at this time, they have been preparing for virus for several weeks. "The one thing that we do know is that a more prepared a community is, the better off we're going to be. Our schools, our businesses, even our own individual households, our senior center and even nursing homes. We're seeing a lot of deaths in the senior populations. We just really need to make sure that everybody is aware of all of the (precautions) like washing your hands and staying home when you're sick." McCormick urged residents to only get their information from reliable sources and said the Livingston County Health Department's website has updated details and links to official sources.

Meanwhile, 8th District Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin released a statement following the confirmation of Michigan cases in which she said a plan of action had been made to protect staff, constituents, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining constituent services and legislative operations. Slotkin’s office policy includes transitioning to an all-telework operation in her Washington, DC office, and a partially remote work operation in her Lansing and Rochester offices starting on Friday, March 13. “It’s important for us, as federal leaders, to act decisively to protect public health and to demonstrate our resilience and ability to continue doing the people’s business. In that spirit, I issued new guidance to my congressional team earlier today, in line with CDC guidance. The goal is to maintain consistent, un-interrupted constituent services to the 8th district, keep our staff safe, and do our part to stem the spread of the virus. I will continue to do my duty of legislating and voting at the Capitol, and you’ll get the same great service from my team — but we’ll do that with new work strategies that reflect the public health issues of the moment.”

According to the state's website, 57 individuals have tested negative for COVID-19 and 18 test results were pending as of Tuesday night. Since January 31st, Michigan public health officials have asked 493 people to self-quarantine for 14 days due to travel to areas with a high risk of exposure to the coronavirus. More than 800 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States, with 29 deaths. Worldwide, about 118,000 have been infected and over 4,200 have died.

Patients with confirmed infection are reporting mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control believes that symptoms might appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services activated the state's Community Health Emergency Coordination Center last month to coordinate with local health departments and medical providers. COVID-19 can be tested for at the state's laboratory in Lansing, with the test taking about four hours before a result is obtained. The two cases in Wayne and Oakland counties were confirmed via testing at the state lab.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces the state's first two cases of coronavirus, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the Michigan State Police headquarters in Windsor Township, Mich.(Photo: David Eggert, AP)