Michigan Order Closes Restaurant Dining Rooms, High Schools, Cancels School Sports

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued a public health order to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

In the order, Director Robert Gordon cited the data to show how quickly the virus is spreading. The positive test rate has increased from 3.2 percent to 12 percent since early October.  

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have doubled in less than two weeks, and there are now over 4.5 times the hospitalizations recorded on October 1. With over 3,000 Michiganders hospitalized for COVID-19, 15 percent of all available inpatient beds are now occupied by patients who have COVID-19, the highest number since mid-April. There are more than 300 weekly deaths in Michigan and due to delays between exposure, onset of symptoms, and hospitalization, the sharp rise in new infections suggests that the state is entering the most challenging phase of the pandemic thus far, according to Gordon's order.

The new restrictions are in place from Nov. 18 to Dec. 8.

  • Dine-in service at bars and restaurants is prohibited (outdoor dining is allowed)
  • Retail store capacity is capped at 30 percent.
  • In-person work is only allowed when doing that work remotely is not possible.
  • Theaters, movie theaters, stadiums, arcades, bowling centers, ice skating rinks and indoor water parks must close.
  • Group fitness classes are prohibited.
  • Indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people, but only two households are permitted to gather.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people.
  • Funerals are limited to 25 people.
  • High schools, colleges and universities must move to distance learning; school sports are suspended.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michiganders have made difficult sacrifices to protect public health this year. Whitmer said those sacrifices saved thousands of lives. 

"Now, eight months after I spoke to you in March, I'm asking that we join forces again. Because as hard as those first few months were for this state, these next few are going to be even harder," Whitmer said.

Whitmer said flu season complicates a coronavirus picture that was already being challenged by more contacts and lower temperatures. Whitmer once again suggested Michigan was in the midst of the pandemic's worst moment, to date.

"The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and need to take some action," Whitmer said.

Kelly Rossman-McKinney, spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, urged local enforcement of the orders.

"This virus is quickly spreading throughout our state and we must do everything we can to stop it and flatten the curve. As with past orders, county public health departments and local law enforcement are primarily responsible for enforcement in their own communities and we hope they do so. We stand ready to assist them in their efforts," Rossman-McKinney said.

Michigan Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake,  suggested the executive order ignored the input of Senate Republicans.

"The Senate Republicans have been engaged in thoughtful conversations with our doctors, hospitals and the Whitmer administration on ways to combat the spread of this insidious virus and help support our healthcare workers. 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."

Shirkey said Senate Republicans have faith in fellow citizens and encouraged them to protect themselves by washing hands, maintaining distance and wearing a mask when appropriate.'

"We are disappointed Gov. Whitmer chose to go it alone, again," Shirkey said.

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