On the heels of another busy week in Michigan as the state combats COVID-19's spread through its counties, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will start releasing details about her plan to reopen the economy next week.
Gov. Whitmer updated the state's efforts to fight COVID-19 and says everything in place is working but we're not ready to reopen the state yet.
Whitmer said reopening the economy will be based on facts, science and the best medical advice the state can get. She said she plans to start putting information out by end of next week and more details the week after. The Stay Home, Stay Safe order expires at the end of April.
“Social distancing is still crucial. When we start returning to work, we will begin with low-risk sectors. As a state, we may re-engage our strategy by region, depending on what the data tells us,” Whitmer said.
The governor did not offer details about her plans that would start to be released next week. She did, however, say it would be a phased rollout to prevent a second wave.
"It's going to take a while before everyone is back to work, in the way we think of it," she said.
But Whitmer said it’s still too early to determine exactly what that will look like. She did say to determine which sectors are some of the first to go back to work, Whitmer said the state will look at how many workers are employed, whether the workers interact with the public, whether the workplace is indoors or outdoors, whether workers are in close proximity with each other, whether employees share tools or machines, and more.
When these sectors return to operation, new guidelines will be implemented, such as having PPE and handwashing available, or new workplace arrangements to encourage social distancing.
“Our number one priority here is keeping people safe,” she said. “We may never know how many lives we saved but there’s no doubt that our work, our sacrifice has meant something and it’s helped us to get to a place where we may be able to start engaging in the near feature."
Wayne County and the city of Southgate also announced the city’s first drive-thru test is now open. Those looking to get tested can make an appointment at www.myquest.covidtest.com.
Dr. Khaldun said while there might be a plateau in cases, there are still people testing positive and deaths happening.
“We also know that the curve may look different in different parts of the state,” she said, adding data is crucial to making the best decisions across the state.
Following a tumultuous seven days that started with an extension on her shelter-in-place order with added restrictions last week, critics of Whitmer's directive have grown louder in expressing their frustrations. As upset residents protested in Lansing on Wednesday, Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to curb the governor of her executive powers.
Whitmer said at the last protest, attendees were encouraged to stay in their cars but still gathered outside them.
“These are really dangerous activities, my hope is that number one, people consider voicing their dissent in other ways,” she said.
The governor said she prefers that those who disagree use other methods than traveling, so no one needlessly uses gas stations to spread germs, or gets pulled over and forces an unnecessary interaction that could spread the virus.
“If people are going to come to town, I ask that they do so in a manner that keeps themselves safe and others as well,” she said.
Whitmer hasn't backed down from her position, however. Doubling down on the necessity for her shelter-in-place order, the governor responded to the protests arguing that congregations like those that happened on the capitol lawn validated the need for orders that restricted traveling.
Extended until the end of April, both the governor's orders and the emergency powers act she invoked at the onset of coronavirus's discovery in Michigan will end May 1. While the legislature approved Whitmer's emergency declaration by 23 days last week, it's unclear what will happen in two weeks.
However, Whitmer indicated Friday morning she wants to loosen restrictions around then during an interview on Good Morning America.
"I do hope to have some relaxing come May 1, but it's two weeks away and the information and the data and our ability to test is changing so rapidly it's hard to tell you precisely where we'll be in a week from now, much less two," Whitmer told ABC Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
Whitmer has also been deflecting comments from the White House, occasionally trading barbs with President Donald Trump over the availability of personal protective equipment.
Amid the political carnage are signs that social distancing could be having an effect on COVID-19's spread. Since peaking April 3 with almost 2,000 new cases, there's been a noticeable decline in new daily totals. Both Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan have validated those signs. However, much work is still needed.
The number of deaths related to COVID-19 remains high and has gradually increased over the week. Apart from a spike in deaths on April 10, the number of daily deaths has seen a slight uptick.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
Are you showing symptoms? Try Beaumont's virtual screening tool
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
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