Michigan Gov. Whitmer extends state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases to Aug. 11

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday she has signed an executive order to extend the emergency and disaster declaration until August 11, 2020. 

The state of emergency had been set to expire on Thursday, July 16. The extension comes amid a slight but steady increase of cases across the state. 

The state of emergency, first declared more than four months ago, is the underpinning for a slew of orders. They include a pause on residential evictions, caps on crowd sizes, an additional six weeks of jobless payments, requirements to wear masks and socially distance, delayed tax deadlines and new workplace infection-control rules.

Gov. Whitmer has said nearly every state in the country is maintaining a state of emergency to cope with COVID-19. 

In the past few weeks, Gov. Whitmer has tightened restrictions in hopes of bringing back down the spread the virus.

“COVID-19 has now killed more than 6,000 people in Michigan. That’s more than 6,000 of our parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors. And the rising numbers we’ve seen over the past few weeks prove that this virus is still a very real threat in our state,” she said in a press release. “Today, I signed new emergency and disaster declarations using independent sources of statutory authority to continue saving lives and ensure that the brave men and women on the front lines of this crisis have the tools they need.” 

On July 1, she ordered bars in lower Michigan to stop serving guests indoors. The bars did not have to close down completely and can still offer outdoor seating and other creative methods such as cocktails-to-go. Bars and restaurants were first shut down on March 16 and were only allowed for take-out or curbside service. They were allowed to reopen on June 8. 

Then on July 10 she signed an executive order toughening face mask requirements in the state

Face coverings have and are still required in indoor public spaces and are now required in crowded outdoor spaces as well. Businesses open to the public are now required to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions. And a willful violation of the order is now a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty.

Daily COVID-19 case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo regions. In July, Michigan has seen both its highest number of daily new cases since May - and its first day on which zero new deaths were reported. 

On July 11, 653 new cases were confirmed, the highest number since 659 were confirmed in a single day back on May 20. 

And on July 5, the state reported zero additional daily deaths for the first time since March 17. Daily new deaths continue to be in the single digits this month, with the exception of when the state finalizes a review of death certificates. 

Gov. Whitmer said she was interested in tightening restrictions in Phase 4, such as limiting bar service and toughening the face mask rules, before moving certain regions back a phase under the MI Safe Start economy plan. 

Right now six regions are in Phase 4, and the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City region are in Phase 5.