Whitmer on Michigan COVID restrictions: ‘I think it’s very clear the pause has worked’

Michigan has been under MDHHS order since Nov. 18

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of MDHHS, at a Jan. 6, 2021, COVID-19 briefing.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of MDHHS, at a Jan. 6, 2021, COVID-19 briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has been under tighter COVID-19 restrictions for more than seven weeks, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that she believes the order has been effective.

“I think it’s very clear that the pause has worked,” Whitmer said. “Our numbers came down at the initiation of the pause, just as they did in the spring when we took action and curtailed our person-to-person activities.”

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

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced new COVID-19 restrictions Nov. 15, as the state’s metrics rose at an alarming rate. The order went into effect Nov. 18 and was extended Dec. 7. Officials revised the restrictions Dec. 18 and extended them until Jan. 15.

Click here to read a full timeline of this order, with a breakdown of how COVID-19 numbers have actually changed while it’s been in effect.

The governor was asked about the restrictions during her briefing Wednesday, after Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for MDHHS, revealed a rising positivity rate and plateauing case rate.

Whitmer didn’t reveal whether the state would strengthen or extend the restrictions, but reiterated that she thinks it was the right move by MDHHS.

“We’ve saved lives,” Whitmer said. “I know that our health care system, our hospital systems are grateful and breathe a sign of relief. We know that over the holiday we saw increased mobility. We don’t know how sustained that was, or how dramatic it was, but it did jump during the most recent holiday.

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

“So we are going to continue to watch the numbers very closely. The order that has been in effect from DHHS -- it goes through the 15th, and so I anticipate some more days of data before a determination is made on what the next steps look like.”

Whitmer said a decision about the order -- whether it’s extended or revised, or if it expires -- will be known next week.

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Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.