MDHHS Issues New Restrictions as COVID Cases Rise in Michigan
LANSING - Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon announced new restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus which include limits on gathering sizes and the closure of schools and some businesses.
COVID cases in Michigan have been rising in the past few weeks with the latest test positivity rate at 12.8%.
Indoor gatherings are now limited to no more than 10 people and no more than two households are allowed to gather indoors. Outdoor gatherings of no more than 25 people are allowed.
As part of the three-week epidemic order, high schools, colleges and universities are not allowed to do in-person learning. Restaurants and bars are also closed for indoor dining, although outdoor dining, takeout and delivery are allowed. Movie theaters, bowling alleys, ice skating rinks, indoor water parks, bingo halls, casinos and arcades must close for three weeks.
Personal care services like salons and barber shops can remain open. Gyms and pools can remain open though group classes are not allowed.
“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses,” Whitmer said. “Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus."
Gordon said the epidemic powers carry the force of law through powers given to MDHHS by the legislature after the Spanish flu.
“This order rests on the firm legal authority created by the Michigan legislature after the Spanish flu 100 years ago,” Gordon said. “Our actions now echo actions then, they’re grounded in evidence and experience and reflect input from public health experts in Michigan and around the country.”
The focus of the order is to limit small indoor gatherings which are driving the spread.
“Indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act. By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives.”
Whitmer noted that this is not a stay-at-home order like the one seen last spring as it leaves manufacturing and outdoor dining open and it allows work that cannot be done remotely to be done to in person.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey issued a statement on the new restrictions.
“The health and safety of our communities is our top priority. The senate republicans have been engaged in thoughtful conversations with our doctors, hospitals and the Whitmer administration on ways to combat the spread on this insidious virus and help support our healthcare workers,” Shirkey said. “While we were meeting in good faith, Gov. Whitmer was working on her own strategy that did not include input from the senate republicans and we see the result of her plans in this latest round of restrictions.”
Shortly after the press conference, the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced a three-week suspension of all high school sports in Michigan.
The order will go into effect this Wednesday and will last through Dec. 8.