Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Gov. Whitmer extends stay-at-home order through May 15, relaxes some restrictions

April 24, 2020
<p>Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the MSU College Democrats on Sept. 18, 2018 at Wells Hall. State News file photo.</p>

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the MSU College Democrats on Sept. 18, 2018 at Wells Hall. State News file photo.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Friday to announce an executive order that extends the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order through May 15.

The order tells those who have to leave their house to wear cloth masks and continue staying six feet apart. However, those who do not wear a mask cannot be criminally penalized.

"Let's keep it up," Whitmer said. "Like I've said throughout this crisis, we've got to do everything we can to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 spread. So, as hard as this moment is for us right now, as isolated as we feel and as stressed as we are about getting back to work, reopening up businesses, we know that if we do it too fast, a second wave is likely and would be even more devastating the the moment that we are in."

Businesses are required to provide their workers with non-medical grade masks, Whitmer said.

Whitmer said low-contact outdoor activity, such as golfing and motorized boating, will now be allowed while still following social distancing measures.

Low-risk workers, such as landscapers, lawn service companies and plant nurseries, are now being allowed to work in order to begin reengaging the economy, Whitmer said. This order does not affect manufacturers and factories. This preliminary stage is going to be analyzed to continue making decisions about potential further economic reengagement.

"If we continue to see our numbers decline, we can responsibly consider additional steps we can take," Whitmer said. "If we see an increase we may have to be nimble enough to go backward on occasion. My fervent hope is that people still take this incredibly seriously."

At the beginning of the press conference, Whitmer said she met with essential workers through zoom to ask them what she can do for their safety.

She said the grocery workers she met with spoke to how thankful they were for their employers' efforts to keep them safe, and thankful to the customers for choosing to wear masks.

Additionally, Whitmer said they wanted to note that it is important to limit the amount of people going to the grocery store, and that customers should wear their masks correctly, cover their mouth and nose, in addition to being six feet apart.

Whitmer later clarified that businesses are allowed to refuse service to those not wearing masks.

This week, the state expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits and announced a temporary $2-per-hour pay raise for direct care workers providing medicaid-funded in-home behavioral health and long-term care services.

Whitmer said Michigan has had over a million people file for unemployment in the last six weeks, and they have been able to make sure that over 820,000 people have gotten assistance.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or MDHHS, said that on April 22, Michigan performed 7,400 tests, the highest number of COVID-19 tests they've had so far. Although Khaldun said this is progress, MDHHS estimates that they need to be doing 15,000 tests a day.

"Our work is paying off, but we have to continue aggressively moving forward with expanding our testing, and we are doing just that," Khaldun said.

Nursing home facilities are now being asked to report cases, Whitmer said. A third of the state's nursing homes have reported 2,218 cases. Whitmer was asked how she felt about a bicameral committee potentially sending a bill to place restrictions on Whitmer's emergency power. She responded that she will not be signing any bill that takes authority away from her or future governors, especially in times of crisis when lives are on the line.

"As we take this small step forward, we will make adjustments along the way," Whitmer said. "My hope, I know all of our hope, is that we can take the next step, but we have to know that it's safe to do that, that we've mitigated all the risk inherent."

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