Michigan 3-week pause: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says ‘If we don’t act now, thousands more will die’

Michigan health officials announced this week a new emergency order that enacts a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates.

Image/1st Lt. Andrew Layton, U.S. Air National Guard

Under this order, indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at any one time. However, MDHHS strongly urges families to pick a single other household to interact with over the next three weeks, consistent with new guidance released by the department. The order is aimed at limiting residential and non-residential gatherings where COVID-19 spreads rapidly. Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes will be closed. Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, however all other organized sports must stop. Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning, but must end in-person classes.

“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus.”

The order went into effect Wednesday.

Last week, Gov. Whitmer praised President-Elect Joe Biden’s selection of medical experts to lead the country’s COVID-19 response. “It is crucial that leaders across the country listen to science and the recommendations of health experts”, she said in a statement.

The team includes experts like director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH who said the country is in a position to pay its workers to stay home.

“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the lost wages for individual workers, for losses to small companies, to medium-sized companies or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that,” he said. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks and if we did that, we could drive the numbers down.”


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