Thursday, April 2, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

March 23, 2020
<p>Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her second State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Jan. 29, 2020.</p>

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her second State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Jan. 29, 2020.

Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order, which will go into effect March 24 at 12:01 a.m. This order temporarily suspends in-person operations nonessential to sustaining or protecting life.

According to a press release, Whitmer made this decision along with recommendations from Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health.

"The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store," according to a statement from the governor's office.

Khaldun said the state has gone from zero to 1,232 confirmed cases, including 15 deaths within the past 13 days.

Without the order, the number of confirmed cases could increase by five-fold within the next week, Khaldun said.

"There is a model that anticipates that if we stay on our current trajectory ... over 70% of our people could get infected with COVID-19," Whitmer said.

Of that 70%, equal to about seven million people, Whitmer said about a million would need to be hospitalized. The state currently has around 25,000 acute care beds.

Since there is no cure for COVID-19, Whitmer has taken this step to prevent overwhelming hospitals.

"Stopping the spread of this virus is really the most important tool that we have right now to keep our community safe," Whitmer said.

Michigan's state of emergency began on March 10 following the first two cases of COVID-19 in Michigan.

The following day, MSU canceled all in-person classes. Among additional measures, Whitmer ordered a closure of K-12 schools, which is now extended to April 13.

Michiganders will still be allowed to participate in outdoor recreational activities as long as they remain six feet apart from others, according to the order.

Businesses that remain open that are nonessential to sustain or protect life will face ramifications, Whitmer said.

The situation is rapidly evolving due to community spread and a lack of tests. Confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are expected to continue to rise.

"To everyone, please be smart, follow the order," Whitmer said.

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