LANSING - State officials announced a 12-day extension to the COVID-19 restrictions that closed high schools, colleges and other businesses.
The restrictions were issued last month as a result of increasing COVID cases and hospitalizations. COVID cases have been decreasing but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said it is too early to start relaxing restrictions.
“Cases and mobility have started to level off but there is more work we need to do to protect one another,” Whitmer said. “We have not yet seen the full impact of activities around Thanksgiving on our cases and hospitalizations and we are very worried they could be significant impacts.”
Hospitalizations are rising with 79% of hospital beds occupied around the state.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced metrics that will determine whether or not to relax restrictions. They include the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients, the case rate and percent positivity rate.
If the metrics continue to trend in the right direction, MDHHS will slowly begin re-engaging with high schools being allowed to reopen first followed by other businesses like movie theaters, casinos, auditoriums, stadiums, bowling alleys, arcades and bingo halls. Concession stands will need to stay closed due to the risk of contracting COVID-19 when eating or drinking in an enclosed public area.
The restrictions last through December 20. Regardless of what happens from there, Whitmer discouraged people from traveling and gathering for Christmas.
“It doesn’t mean we cancel Christmas, it means we celebrate in a responsible way and we make our plan now to do that,” Whitmer said. “If our numbers come down a good amount it still doesn’t mean that COVID is gone by Christmas.”