Are new COVID-19 restrictions in store for Michigan due to new variant of virus, metrics concerns?

‘We are going to continue to watch the numbers very closely,’ Whitmer says

LANSING, Mich. – With rising concerns about Michigan’s COVID-19 metrics and a new variant of the virus, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked if she anticipates new restrictions on activity in the state.

You can listen to Whitmer’s full answer to the question in the video above.

During Wednesday’s (Jan. 6) briefing, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the state’s case rate has started to plateau after 46 days of decline. She also revealed a much higher positivity rate -- 9.6%.

In addition to some concerning trends in the metrics, Whitmer and Khaldun both spoke about a new variant of COVID-19, which could be even easier to spread.

READ: 6 takeaways from Gov. Whitmer’s COVID briefing

“While we have not identified that new variant in the state of Michigan, it is very likely that it’s already here, or it will be here soon, so that is concerning,” Khaldun said.

Whitmer was asked if, due to those concerns, the state will see increased restrictions beyond the current MDHHS order.

That order, which continued the ban on indoor dining, concessions inside entertainment facilities and more, is in effect until Jan. 15.

“We are going to continue to watch the numbers very closely,” Whitmer said.

The MDHHS order was initially issued in late November, then extended into December for officials to gauge the impact of holiday travel. When numbers started to improve officials eased some restrictions, allowing certain facilities to reopen and resuming in-person classes for high schoolers.

MORE: Michigan moves to new phase of COVID vaccinations -- teachers, first responders, residents over 65

On Wednesday, Whitmer didn’t reveal whether the current order would be extended or strengthened.

“I anticipate some more days of data before a determination is made on what the next steps look like,” Whitmer said. “If we could do what I wanted, we would be moving forward and the numbers would reflect a stronger state, a safer state.

“But it’s not my individual wishes, and as the data and what we’re seeing in terms of community spread -- that will determine where we’re headed.”

Whitmer said that determination will be known next week.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.