75ºF

Gov. Whitmer unveils new coronavirus response plan for Michigan

There are currently 45,646 COVID-19 cases, 4,343 deaths in Michigan

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a coronavirus news conference May 4, 2020.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a coronavirus news conference May 4, 2020. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a coronavirus news conference on Thursday to update constituents on the state’s COVID-19 response efforts.

As of Thursday at 3 p.m. the state has reported 45,646 COVID-19 cases and 4,343 deaths. Though the numbers of cases and deaths continue to rise, they are increasing at a slower rate of growth.

Whitmer announced during the briefing that the state’s stay-at-home order has been extended until May 28. The state’s emergency period was also extended through May 28 last week.

The governor unveiled the details of her new MI Safe Start Plan on Thursday, which identifies six different phases of the pandemic and when certain sectors of the economy can reopen.

Under the plan, manufacturing companies in Michigan -- including the Big Three auto suppliers -- can begin phasing employees into the workplace on May 11.

Construction, real estate and other outdoor businesses were allowed to reopen on Thursday. Some businesses were allowed to reopen last week after Whitmer’s extended stay-at-home order loosened restrictions for certain businesses and activities.

MORE: A timeline of closures, event bans, stay-at-home orders

Executive Orders

Whitmer announced during the briefing that the state’s stay-at-home order has been extended until May 28.

She noted that the name of the order is shifting from “Stay Home, Stay Safe” to “Safer at Home” as some individuals begin phasing back to work. Whitmer says the language is transitioning to acknowledge that while some people are reentering the workplace, “we are all still safer at home.”

Last week Gov. Whitmer extended the state of emergency through May 28, which received significant backlash from Michigan lawmakers and resulted in multiple lawsuits.

MORE: Michigan legislators sue Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for extending state of emergency

Whitmer reiterated that while the curve is flattening in Michigan, the state still has the third-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the country. Both she and and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun encouraged residents to maintain social distancing practices under the stay-at-home order.

“I want to be very clear: COVID-19 is still present in Michigan. It is present in 79 out of the 83 counties," Whitmer said. "And that’s why it’s terribly important that we not let our guard down now -- that we consider this a very real threat, because it is.”

DATA: Tracking COVID-19 cases, deaths and more

MI Safe Start Plan: Phases of the pandemic and reopening the economy

The governor unveiled the details of her new MI Safe Start Plan on Thursday, which identifies six different phases of the pandemic and when certain sectors of the economy can reopen.

Officials listed the following six phases of the pandemic under the MI Safe Start Plan:

  1. Uncontrolled growth: The increasing number of new cases every day, overwhelming our health systems.
  2. Persistent spread: We continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity.
  3. Flattening: The epidemic is no longer increasing and the health-system’s capacity is sufficient for current needs.
  4. Improving: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining.
  5. Containing: Continued case and death rate improvements, with outbreaks quickly contained.
  6. Post-pandemic: Community spread not expected to return.

Whitmer says Michigan is currently in phase 3 of the plan, and says residents still need to maintain social distancing practices to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The state is also planning to ramp up testing and COVID-19 case-tracking capabilities, which officials believe are critical steps to containing the virus. Whitmer says the state is expecting to soon receive a shipment of supplies needed to ramp up testing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Under the MI Safe Start Plan, manufacturing companies in Michigan -- including the Big Three auto suppliers -- can begin phasing employees into the workplace on May 11.

The governor says the manufacturing sector makes up about 19% percent of the state’s economy. About 5% of the economy was already engaged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, comprised of essential workers.

Beginning Thursday, construction, real estate and other outdoor businesses were allowed to reopen under the governor’s MI Safe Start plan. Some businesses were allowed to reopen last week after Whitmer’s extended stay-at-home order loosened restrictions for certain businesses and activities.

MORE: A timeline of closures, event bans, stay-at-home orders

The governor also unveiled a map of the state divided into eight regions, in which COVID-19 data is being gathered and tracked. Western counties in Michigan have fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths than the southeast region, but Whitmer says the case numbers are still rising in those areas. Critics have suggested reopening sectors of the economy in areas less affected by the virus, but Whitmer says she intends to execute a statewide approach for now.

Click here to read our latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.


About the Author: