(FOX 2) - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced the whole state was moving into Phase 4 of her MI Safe Start plan.
The plan divides Michigan into eight regions and includes six phases of re-opening the economy. As of June 8, all eight regions will be in Phase 4, whereas previously only two regions - the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City Region - were in Phase 4. The others were in Phase 3.
Moving into Phase 4 means more businesses can open, like bars, restaurants, retail and office spaces. Day camps for children, libraries, museums are also permitted to open, as well as public swimming pools at 50% capacity. Also allowed are outdoor fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions, or games, as long as all people involved that are not from the same household keep six feet apart at all times.
Gov. Whitmer said during her announcement that this phase does not include theaters, indoor gyms, personal services or overnight camps, as those would fall into Phase 5.
WHEN CAN MICHIGAN MOVE INTO PHASE 5?
Gov. Whitmer also said during her briefing Monday that she hopes to be fully engaged in the economy by mid- to the end-of-the-month of June.
According to Whitmer's MI Safe Start Plan, the following factors will determine moving into Phase 5, which is called the containing phase:
- Cases and deaths at low absolute rates per capita
- Health system capacity is very strong
- Robust testing, contact tracing and containment protocols in place
So where is Michigan at with all of those factors? Are we anywhere near approaching Phase 5 as Gov. Whitmer seemed to suggest?
CASES AND DEATHS
State medical director Gov. Joneigh Khaldun said Monday that Michigan is seeing about 12 new cases per million people per day on average right now. In the past two weeks, the amount of percent positive tests has also dropped to only about 5%, and it's because of those trends that state officials have moved forward with reopening parts of the economy.
Dr. Khaldun and Gov. Whitmer will be updating those stats in press briefings later this week. Routinely, they've been speaking on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays about COVID-19.
HEALTH SYSTEM CAPACITY
Hospitals are no longer overwhelmed in Michigan with incoming patients, nor by a lack of personal protection equipment.
Also important to note is that the 1,000-bed temporary medical facility at the TCT Center in Detroit is currently on pause due to a lack of need.
Though the MI Safe Start Plan doesn't give too many specifics about testing for COVID-19, we do know state officials have said testing needs to be more widespread across the state before we can open more of the economy.
In May an executive order expanded testing in the state to no longer require a doctor's order.
Right now 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
The state is also very close to averaging about 15,000 tests a day, which Gov. Whiter has said is the goal. In the last week of May in which the data is available, May 24-30, an average of 13,778 diagnostic tests were conducted per day, with that 7-day average showing a 4.5% positive rate.
Gov. Whitmer also said that her goal was to have 450,000 diagnostic tests conducted by the end of May. As of May 22, the state's website shows more than 469,000 diagnostic tests have been conducted.
NO CLEAR-CUT ANSWER
All signs certainly say we're moving in the right direction for Phase 5 and, again, Gov. Whitmer indicated that she's interested in and hoping to be fully reengaged in the next 2-4 weeks.
Though, she has also said there's no clear-cut number or formula she's looking for to make that decision. She's repeated she'll make decisions based on data and science.
Meanwhile, the safer-at-home order in Michigan has also been lifted and groups of up to 100 can gather outside with social distancing practices in place, up from a threshold of 10.
It is possible to move back a phase if Michiganders stop adhering to safe practices.
"We have to reengage like a dial, not a switch that goes on or off but a dial we can turn, and we can continue to turn the intensify up if everyone does their part. We have to remember the threat of a second wave is very real," Gov. Whitmer said when announcing the MI Safe Start plan.
Those safe practices include social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands.
You can read more about the MI Safe Start Plan here.