Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Gov. Whitmer announces 6 phases of "MI Safe Start" plan, state currently in phase 3

May 7, 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

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer detailed the six phases of her "MI Safe Start" plan after a press conference May 7 that extended her current "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order to May 28.

The "MI Safe Start" plan outlines how the government will reengage Michigan's economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously continuing to keep its communities safe.

"I am working closely with partners in business, labor, and education to determine the best way to move forward each day," Whitmer said. "All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again. We’ve already reopened lower-risk sectors like construction, manufacturing, and lawn care."

While the plan projects a path to safely exit social distancing, the power that enacted it is the subject of a court case that the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate filed yesterday.

The phases of the pandemic according to the "MI Safe Start" plan are:

1. Uncontrolled growth

The plan defined this as an increasing number of new cases every day that are likely to overwhelm the health system with strict rules on social distancing, travel restrictions, face coverings, hygiene best practices and remote work. Critical infrastructure continues, which includes first responders, health care workers, critical manufacturing, food and agriculture, essential retail (e.g. grocery) and transportation.

2. Persistent spread

Whitmer's plan defined this as a continuance of high case levels and high concern about health system capacity. Phase two has the same type of safety actions and policies as phase one.

3. Flattening

According to Whitmer, this is the phase Michigan is currently in, but without social distancing the state could move backward.

The plan defined this as when case growth begins to gradually decline. Some strict rules have been lifted, but social distancing mandates still apply with an increased need for face coverings in public.

Critical infrastructure has also broadened, allowing for specified lower-risk business with strict workplace safety measures to reopen, such as construction, real estate and outdoor work.

Along with her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" extension, Whitmer announced in the same press conference on May 7 that all manufacturers will return to work on May 11 with requirements for personal protective equipment, or PPE.

4. Improving

The governor's plan defined this as when the amount of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining.

Again, the same rules regarding social distancing and face coverings will be in effect, however small gatherings will be allowed to take place and additional lower-risk businesses with strict workplace safety measures will be allowed to reopen, such as other retail and offices, though the plan asks for capacity limits and telework to be required if possible.

5. Containing

The plan defined this as a continued improvement in the case count and death rate where any outbreaks can be quickly contained.

New guidelines will also be set in place, still asking for full commitment through continued social distancing, use of face coverings and mitigated workplaces; however, gathering size can be increased and most businesses with strict workplace safety measures will be allowed to reopen, such as restaurants or bars, all education facilities and travel.

6. Post-pandemic

The plan defined this as the time when the community spread is no longer expected to return, and there is a sufficient immunity and availability for treatment, most likely involving a vaccine. Everything begins to relax in phase six. Whitmer's plan states that all businesses will be allowed to reopen and events and gatherings of all sizes will be allowed to occur within new safety guidance and procedures.

The "MI Safe Start" plan is being updated and refined as additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC and other public health experts becomes available.

“The worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we've made," Whitmer said. That's why we will continue to monitor the spread of this virus, hospital capacity, testing rates, and more as we work toward reaching the ‘improving’ phase.”

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