Governor Whitmer Provides COVID-19 Update and Eases State Restrictions
LANSING, MI - Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference to give Michigan an update on COVID-19. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, and MDHHS Director Robert Gordon were in attendance to provide an update regarding COVID-19 and the continued efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
On Monday, the first of Michigan’s frontline workers received the Pfizer vaccine. Three weeks ago the governor sent a letter to the Michigan Legislature requesting that they take action to protect public health and save lives. In the three weeks since, nearly 2,000 people have died from COVID-19. "That’s nearly 2,000 parents, grandparents, children, and loved ones who were taken from us too soon,” Whitmer said. "To the Michiganders and business owners who have doubled down on mask-wearing, social distancing, and limiting indoor gathering where COVID-19 thrives, thank you.”
This will include in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues. Casinos, movie theaters, and bowling centers to reopen with a total capacity capped of 100; food and drink concessions closed; along with social distancing requirements in place. Gyms will also remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Outdoor group fitness and outdoor non-contact sports will be allowed again. The new order goes into effect Monday, Dec. 21 and will last until Friday, Jan. 15.
Dr. Khaldun spoke during the press conference and said, “It is important that everyone continues to do their part. Start planning for when you will get a vaccine when it is available to you. We have made some progress in our fight against this pandemic, and this was a historical week as we started to distribute life-saving vaccines. It is important that everyone continues to do their part. Start planning for when you will get a vaccine when it is available to you, and let’s avoid a surge in cases after the holidays by avoiding gatherings, wearing our masks, and continuing to socially distance.”
“Michiganders should be proud: we have made incredible progress over the last month. But we could easily lose that progress and endanger our hospitals again over the next two weeks,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “At Thanksgiving, most Michiganders sacrificed and avoided family get-togethers. We need to do the same thing this holiday season. Then we can re-engage more activities sooner and more safely.”
Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department. Families are encouraged to stay home this holiday season to maintain the positive momentum that has developed and to protect loved ones. People who are employed that cannot perform their job at home can continue to go to work, while employees who can should continue to do so. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment.
The epidemic order continues to pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants temporarily but continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery. Colleges and universities will be able to have students return to campus for the winter semester, with a voluntary commitment to wait until Jan. 18 to restart in-person courses.