Explaining how, why Gov. Whitmer broke Michigan into 8 regions for reopening plan

Governor partially reopening businesses in regions six, eight

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has divided the state into eight regions as part of her coronavirus (COVID-19) reopening plan, but how and why were those regions determined?

On Friday, region eight -- the Upper Peninsula -- and region six -- the northernmost part of the Lower Peninsula -- will be able to partially reopen restaurants, bars, retail and more.

Whitmer’s advisory committee has drawn up a map of the state, and it’s the guide for how Michigan will move forward.

The governor rolled out the regional map a couple of weeks ago, but not much more has been said about it. It came into play for the first time Monday, when the two regions mentioned above were moved to phase four of her reopening plan.

The map splits Michigan into eight different regions. Those regions were determined by Whitmer’s Michigan Economic Council.

They’ve told Local 4 they considered areas where Michiganders travel to and from work, hospital system readiness and the virus severity.

About a week after rolling out the map, Whitmer put out a color-coded chart explaining the six phases for reopening.

READ: Here are the 6 stages in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to fully reopen the state

The two colors in play right now are orange, for flattening the curve, and yellow, for improving.

Starting Friday, the entire Upper Peninsula and region six will move to the improving phase, allowing retail to reopen and restaurants and bars to operate at half capacity, while also using social distancing.

A total of 32 counties -- out of 83 total in the state -- will move to phase four.

The other 51 counties remain in the flattening phase.

Metro Detroit is in region one, which contains Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

The region’s reopening depends on three things: lower case numbers per million, downward trends in new daily cases and the number of positive tests.

Whitmer said testing is most important.

“Ultimately, what we want to do was to get everyone tested,” Whitmer said. “At this point in time, what we are focusing on -- if you are someone who is a grocery store clerk or a utility worker or a day care center worker or any of the other people that have been at work or are going bak to work, get tested."

Local 4 asked Whitmer if she could tell us which other regions might be getting close to moving on to the fourth phase. She said the southern parts of the state are roughly on the same plane when it comes to the virus and wouldn’t say what might come next.

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