LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed her extension of the state of emergency, which will keep many businesses closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday night that extends the state of emergency through May 28.
“Today I signed new emergency and disaster declarations using independent sources of statutory authority to make sure our health care workers and first responders have the tools they need to save lives and protect Michiganders,” Whitmer said.
State of emergency
Whitmer’s state of emergency extension closes theaters, bars, casinos and more as the coronavirus continues to spread in the state.
The order also limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders only.
“Although we are beginning to see the curve flatten, we are not out of the woods yet," Whitmer said. “We must all continue to be diligent, observe social distancing and limit in-person interactions and services to slow the spread of COVID-19."
UPDATE -- April 30, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 41,379; Death toll now at 3,789
Michigan is also under a stay-at-home order through at least May 15.
“Michigan now has more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19," Whitmer said. "The virus has killed more Michiganders than we lost during the Vietnam war. Extending this order is vital to the health and safety of every Michigander. If we work together and do our part, we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”
Whitmer vs. legislators
Michigan legislators said Thursday that they would let Whitmer’s state of emergency expire at midnight, and she responded by saying she didn’t need them to issue an extension.
The Republican-led Michigan House approved Senate bills limiting Whitmer’s emergency powers and gave House Speaker Lee Chatfield the ability to take legal action against the governor.
“We extended our hand in partnership, but should she not accept that and overstep her constitutional bounds, we also authorized myself, on behalf of the House of Representatives, to file a lawsuit,” Chatfield said. “We have three branches of government in Michigan -- executive, judicial and legislative -- and this may have to be settled in court.”
Protests in Lansing
Thursday’s proceedings came amid more protests in the state’s capital.
A rally started around 9 a.m. Thursday, and even in a driving rain it remained loud and, at times, angry.
There were gun-toting protesters among them. The main theme was to demand Whitmer further loosen the stay-at-home order. They wanted the legislators to hear them, as well.
Then, the protest moved indoors. Protesters wanted to get onto the House floor, but Michigan State Police troopers and House sergeants-at-arms blocked the doors.
A crowd of several hundred people parked outside the second-floor House chambers, demanding loudly to be allowed inside. But the gallery is on the third floor, and for social distancing reasons, it’s closed to the public. Protesters stood in place long after the session ended.