LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - Michigan is two-thirds of the way through the epidemic order referred to as a three-week pause implemented in mid-November and, while data is showing improvement, Governor Gretchen Whitmer would not commit to plans on extending or ending the pause.
During her press briefing on Tuesday, Whitmer and Michigan's Chief Medical Director, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said that the state's case rates and positivity rates are starting to decrease from where they were on Nov. 14th, the weekend the pause was announced.
As small businesses in Michigan, particularly restaurants, struggle through the tenth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitmer was pressed about plans to extend or end the pause but did not give any indication either way of her plans saying it's too early to say where Michigan will be in a week's time.
"We have not pre-determined anything. It's going to be driven by where we see the numbers. We have modeling calls and we are getting up-to-date information and so as we continue to monitor the numbers, we're going to also continue to center our work around keeping people safe," Whitmer said.
She went on to say that the epidemic order was geared toward stopping the spread of COVID-19 by limiting indoor interactions where people are without masks. She said the orders were targeted and if people embrace these efforts, the state will be more successful.
"If more people embrace masking up and avoid any gatherings that have multiple households that are indoors that are maskless - maskless anywhere, really - that's inherently dangerous," Whitmer said.
FOCUSING ON RESTAURANTS
Whitmer also said she understands the concerns of business owners and knows they're scared of the future. However, because eating and drinking at a restaurant requires people to remove a mask to consume food and drink, it puts more people at risk of spreading and catching the virus, Whitmer said.
"That's why we're really being thoughtful and targeted and listening to our public health experts in designing our path forward in Michigan," Whitmer said.
She asked people to consider a restaurant that is ten percent full and to consider just how many households would be represented in those restaurants.
She's urging everyone to step up to help their friends, neighbors, and family to stop the spread of the virus.
"If everyone does their part we'll see these numbers drop and we'll be in a stronger position for our health systems that are really seeing numbers fill up and also seeing medical employees, nurses and doctors and resp therapists succumb to COVID themselves because of the high prevalence in the communities. that is our most urgent priority right now and what we're focusing on to get our numbers down."
She said she anticipates her office would have a better idea of what the pause has meant and if people have done enough.
Also during Tuesday's press conference, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun laid out the plans for Michigan's distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, once approval and allotments are delivered to the state.
When Michigan does get the vaccine, it will only be available in very limited quantities at first. Dr. Khaldun said the state is also still waiting on word from the CDC of exactly how many doses Michigan will receive in the first allocation.
"Because there will be such a limited amount in the beginning, our first priority will be to keep our healthcare systems operating and to protect those who are the most vulnerable," Dr. Khaldun said.