Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expands COVID-19 testing, no doctor's order required

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer will give an update on the state's progress in the fight against COVID-19 following encouraging results reported by health officials over the weekend.

Gov. Whitmer and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun will speak from Lansing at 3 p.m. Friday. You can watch it in the player below or by going to fox2detroit.com/live

Governor Whitmer signed an executive order Tuesday that expands testing in the state to employees who leave the home for work and expands types of medical personnel who can order a test.

“We need to keep working to expand testing, which is why it is crucial that Michiganders who have COVID-19 symptoms, even mild ones, or have been in contact with someone who has the virus can get tested,” Governor Whitmer said. “This Executive Order will pave the way for more community testing sites to open as we work towards our goal of 15,000 tests administered daily in Michigan. We owe it to the real heroes of this crisis — medical workers, first responders and other essential workers — to do what we can to stop the spread of the virus.” 

Michiganders eligible for testing include anyone who:

  • Exhibits any symptom of COVID-19, including mild symptoms
  • Has been exposed to a person with COVID-19 
  • Has been working outside their home for at least 10 days  
  • Resides in any congregate setting, such as a long-term care facility, prison or jail, homeless shelter, or migrant camp  

During Tuesday's address, Whitmer discussed some of Michigan's 5,266 deaths.

"Most of us know someone who has been impacted by this virus. Whether it's someone who has passed away, someone who is grieving a friend, or someone who is serving on the front line of the crisis," Whitmer said.

On Tuesday, Michigan's total cases hit 55,104.

Gov. Whitmer also unveiled a new dashboard to track regions and their risk in terms of spreading the virus.

"It shows us which phase of the MI Safe Start phase each region is in," Whitmer said.

The MI Safe Start plan is Whitmer's plan to re-engage Michigan's economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The UP and Northern Lower Michigan are currently in Phase 4 (Improving). The rest of the state is still in Phase 3 (Flattening).

The dashboard explains tests and how many daily tests are being administered in each region.

Whitmer diverged from her traditional protocol for lifting restrictions last week when she relaxed rules on only part of the state - particularly bars, restaurants, and retail outlets in the Upper Peninsula and the Greater Traverse City area. Unless someone owns a second home or has family in either of those two regions, the relaxed restrictions mainly impacted residents already living in the areas as both campgrounds and hotels remained closed.

Even with Michigan's Stay Home order extended until June 12, travelers still spread across the state for Memorial Day Weekend. While not a unique trend for Michigan, data from a website that tracks social distancing by measuring the change in average travel found residents have returned to pre-pandemic levels of travel.

RELATED: When will Michigan enter Phase 4 of reopening, and what it will include

Lifted restrictions and encouraging numbers showing a sharp decline in more cases and new deaths linked to COVID-19 indicate even Whitmer's orders aren't carrying the same weight they once did. As bans on small gatherings are lifted, retail outlets in more populated counties joined their northern Michigan counterparts in reopening on Tuesday.

On Monday, health officials reported 12 more deaths and 202 new cases of COVID-19, capping off its best three-day stretch of daily reports since the outbreak took off.

With most of the boxes in the Phase 4 column of Whitmer's MI Safe Start plan now checked, COVID-19's initial outbreak has cratered. As the state staggers its way to reopening, health experts may start focusing on the potential for a second surge in coronavirus cases. Officials will have to wait a couple of weeks before seeing what effects change in behavior and lifted restrictions will have on COVID-19.