Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended the state of emergency order to end at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 11.
The state of emergency, originally anticipated to end July 16, was extended in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
According to the Michigan coronavirus website, the state has reported 77,864 total COVID-19 cases and 6,326 deaths, as of July 14. Positivity rates have increased from 2.8% to 3.4% over the past week.
“The health, economic, and social harms of the COVID-19 pandemic thus remain widespread and severe, and they continue to constitute a statewide emergency and disaster,” Whitmer said in the order.
Being in a state of emergency allows the governor to issue the executive orders she has throughout the ongoing pandemic. The recent extension does not mean the rescinded orders — such as the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order — will be reinstated.
While Whitmer has issued states of emergency under the 1976 Emergency Management Act, or EMA, and the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, or EPGA, her ability to do so has been highly contested by opponents.
In a lawsuit waged against the governor by the state’s Republican-led Legislature in May, presiding judge Cynthia Stephens found Whitmer’s actions were within the authority granted to her by the EPGA, but not the EMA.
“While the Governor’s action of re-declaring the same emergency violated the provisions of the EMA, plaintiffs’ challenges to the EPGA and the Governor’s authority to issue Executive Orders thereunder are meritless,” Stephens said in her opinion.
However, the governor’s executive orders remain in place — for now. Unlock Michigan, a coalition of citizens concerned that Whitmer’s orders threaten lives and constitutional liberties, have started a position to repeal the EPGA, thus intending to repeal the orders.
According to Unlock Michigan’s website, the governor has misused the EPGA “to assume sweeping, permanent powers the legislature never intended a governor to have, in violation of the Separation of Powers doctrine.”
After their petition language was approved in June, the group now has 180 days to collect 340,047 valid petition signatures to get their petition before the state Legislature, according to the Detroit News.
Whitmer, however, plans to continue issuing executive orders as long as COVID-19 poses a threat to public health and the economy.
“Statewide coordination of these efforts is crucial to creating a stable path to recovery,” Whitmer said in the order. “Until that recovery is underway, the economic and fiscal harms from this pandemic have been contained, and the threats posed by COVID-19 to life and the public health, safety, and welfare of this state have been neutralized, statewide disaster and emergency conditions will exist.”