39ºF

Michigan will ‘seriously consider’ lifting COVID restrictions early, depending on progress

New COVID-19 restrictions scheduled to last through Jan. 15

A restaurant's "closed" sign. (Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images) (2020 Richard Bord)

Michigan’s new COVID-19 order went into effect Monday and is scheduled to last through mid-January, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state will “seriously consider” lifting protocols sooner if recent progress is sustained.

As part of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ new COVID-19 order, certain entertainment venues that had been closed for the last month can reopen with limited capacity.

DETAILS: Here’s everything that’s reopening under Michigan’s revised COVID-19 order

But some segments of the economy remain closed. Restaurants aren’t allowed to resume indoor dining. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and two households. Colleges have been asked to keep students off campus for a while longer.

The new order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday and could last for nearly four weeks, until Jan. 15.

But during Friday’s announcement, Whitmer said the state would consider lifting restrictions sooner if the metrics continue in the right direction.

“This new order expires on Jan. 15, but if we substantially sustain our progress, we will seriously consider lifting protocols sooner,” Whitmer said.

She used the word “sustain” because Michigan has seen each of the three key metrics -- hospitalization, case and positivity rates -- decline since the “pause” was first implemented Nov. 18.

Click here to read about those three key metrics and why they’re so important to reopening the state.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of MDHHS, said Michigan is down to 439 cases per million people per day -- a number that’s declining in each of the state’s eight geographical regions. While it’s still six times higher than it was at the start of September, the case rate is moving in the right direction.

Percent positivity had declined for 11 straight days as of Friday’s briefing, and was down to 10.6%. The percentage of hospital beds being used to treat COVID-19 patients had been declining over the past 13 days, as of Friday. Khaldun said the percentage was down to 17.3%.

“These are encouraging numbers,” Khaldun said. “Michiganders did what they were supposed to do over the Thanksgiving holiday, and we avoided the surge so many other states are seeing.”

READ: Michigan high school football, volleyball, swimming and diving tournaments to resume

Whitmer said if Michiganders continue to follow the rules over Christmas and New Year’s, it’s possible the remaining restrictions will be eased or lifted before Jan. 15.

“A lot depends on how the holidays go,” Whitmer said. “If we as a state do the same thing over Christmas that we did over Thanksgiving, and over New Year’s Eve, we will be able to move things forward more quickly than if we drop our guard and travel and gather with multiple households. It’s really that simple.”


About the Author: