More parts of Michigan to reopen ‘in upcoming days,’ top health official says

Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun says more regions will move forward in reopening plan

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her May 29, 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – More parts of Michigan will reopen “in the upcoming days” as the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to slow, the state’s top health official said.

During Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s daily coronavirus briefing Friday afternoon, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the state will continue to move forward.

“As we continue to aggressively increase testing and the downward trend in cases continues across the state, in the upcoming days, we will be able to move forward different regions of the state in the MI Safe Start Plan," Khaldun said.

“If we continue on the trajectory we’re on, we’ll be moving more regions of the state forward in the coming days," Whitmer said.

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Khaldun mentioned that Michigan has significantly expanded testing and is nearing its goal of 15,000 tests administered per day. Khaldun also said there are 250 testing sites open across the state.

Whitmer said she is having a call with the state’s coronavirus task force Saturday to discuss moving into the next phase of her reopening plan.

Stay-at-home order

The state is currently under a stay-at-home order until June 12 and a state of emergency until June 19.

Whitmer extended both orders -- previously scheduled to expire Thursday (May 28) -- around 5:30 p.m. Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

The stay-at-home order continued the closure of public places such as theaters, gyms and casinos to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Michigan has slowly started to reopen, though, with two regions -- the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula -- entering the fourth phase, “Improving,” in Whitmer’s six-phase reopening plan.

REOPENING PLAN: Here are the 6 stages in Whitmer’s plan to fully reopen the state

The rest of the state is current in the third phase, labeled “Flattening,” in Whitmer’s plan.

What has reopened in Metro Detroit so far?

Though it’s still lagging behind the two northernmost regions, the Detroit Region and the rest of the state has slowly seen signs of reopening, as well.

Whitmer first loosened restrictions April 24, when she extended her stay-at-home order through May 15. She lifted restrictions so some businesses linked to outdoor activities, such as golf and motorized boating, could reopen. Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops were allowed to resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules.

On May 1, after again extending her stay-at-home order, this time until May 28, Whitmer reopened certain types of work that are typically outdoors and have a low risk of spreading the coronavirus. That included construction work and real estate.

Michigan’s economy got a much-needed lift when Whitmer announced she would reopen manufacturing, including the Big 3 automakers. Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler would be allowed to reopen at the beginning of the following week, Whitmer announced May 7.

Whitmer announced May 21 that residents were allowed to gather in groups of as many as 10 people. Michiganders were previously restricted from visiting others and coming into contact with anyone outside their household, except in essential circumstances.

Retail businesses reopened on Tuesday, as well as auto dealerships, by appointment. Retail businesses that reopen can have up to 10 customers inside at any time, Whitmer said.

Whitmer also lifted the restrictions on health care providers who had to delay some nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures. Those procedures were allowed to resume Friday (May 29).

The governor updated workplace safety rules, requiring reopened health care facilities to adopt strict protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Several malls in the area reopened Thursday, including Briarwood in Ann Arbor, Great Lakes Crossing and Twelve Oaks.

Malls reopen in Metro Detroit: Can you touch surfaces? Is it safe to try on clothes?

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.