Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced extension of Stay Home, Stay Safe order

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is extending her Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order through April 30 and also adds restrictions to big box stores.

Whitmer was joined by the state's medical executive for the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

While not a surprise following Whitmer's confirmation residents should expect an 'additional' shelter-in-place order earlier this week, the order could only be made following approval from the state legislature to extend her state of emergency declaration another 23 days.

Under the order, businesses and operations are prohibited from requiring workers to leave their homes unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life, or to continue minimum basic operations. Gatherings among people other than a single household are still prohibited.

Though residents can leave to obtain groceries or other needed supplies, the new order does encourage people to limit how many members of the household run those errands.

The order does impose new restrictions on stores to reduce crowds. Stores must limit how many people are allowed into the store at a time to no more than four customers for every 1,000 square feet of customer floor space. Small stores must limit capacity to only 25 percent, including employees. Stores must create lines with markings to keep patrons a safe six feet apart while waiting to enter. Large stores are also required to close areas of the store dedicated to furniture, carpeting, plant nurseries, paint, or garden centers.

“This doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal on May 1,” Gov. Whitmer said. “But based on the data we have right now, this is the appropriate window for an extension."

On Wednesday, Michigan passed 20,000 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a total of 959 deaths. Now the third-highest state total in the country, coronavirus has been spotted in almost every county in Michigan. Despite the rapid spread extending as far as the upper peninsula's western Goegibic County, the majority of cases have been out of Metro Detroit, where 80% of cases have been confirmed in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties.

"We're always going to make decisions based on the best information, the best science and always centered around what's in the best interest of the public health. I would anticipate that I would have to lengthen the stay at home order," Whitmer said. 

Gov. Whitmer issued the 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' executive order on March 23rd and it went into effect the following day. Since then, all essential businesses have been ordered to close. This means Michigan's 10 million residents are asked to avoid all nonessential travel and remain at home.

One of the starkest examples of how stay-at-home orders is the impact on Michigan's unemployment rate. After a record-breaking number of people filed for unemployment benefits, more of the same is expected to come later Thursday. Similar headlines were reported for the country's unemployment rate, which neared 10 million by the second week of social distancing guidelines taking precedent.

The skyrocketing number of people that went to the state's website to apply for aid crashed the website.

RELATED: Whitmer orders K-12 schools close for rest of year, sets guidelines for remote learning

Whitmer's original stay-at-home order was set to expire on April 13th.

A model released by a health institute echoed that prediction, projecting the state will report its peak in resources around mid-April and over 3,000 deaths by May. So far 617 people have died from the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump announced on March 28th that CDC social distancing guidelines are to be followed through at least the end of April.