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Whitmer ‘prepared to take heat’ if parts of Michigan need to shut down again due to COVID-19

Whitmer says coronavirus (COVID-19) spike could lead to more businesses closing

MI Safe Start Map
MI Safe Start Map (Michigan.gov)

LANSING, Mich. – Parts of Michigan have seen recent spikes in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she’s “prepared to take heat” if she has to shut down segments of the economy again.

“Gyms are not open,” Whitmer said. “Theaters are not open. There are a number of other business entities that are not reengaged yet. In so far that we have reengaged hair salons -- that’s something that if we see some outbreaks, we may have to disengage on that front. I took a lot of heat. When we brought that cure down we saved thousands of lives. I’m prepared to take heat if that’s what it’s going to take to keep people safe.”

Her comments come as with Michigan in the midst of a slight rise in positive cases, though the spike is nothing like what’s happening in many southern states.

Whitmer announced before the Fourth of July weekend that she wouldn’t be moving the Lower Peninsula to phase five of her reopening plan as hoped. She also halted indoor bar services while loosening restrictions on delivery and to-go alcohol beverages.

“I want to reengage this economy more than anyone, but I’m not going to do it if it is too risky to do so, and that’s why we’re seeing focus on the epidemiology,” Whitmer said. “I’m not going to be bullied into moving before it’s safe, and if we have to move back, we’re going to.”

Whitmer said while dialing back the process of reopening the state isn’t what anyone wants, she’s willing to do it if the number of new cases keeps increasing.

“COVID-19 is still very present here in Michigan and across the country, obviously,” Whitmer said. “We have taken herculean effort to push our curve down. We’ve saved thousands of lives. Michigan had been on the forefront. We’ve done an incredible amount of work and I would hate to think that this sacrifice that we have made would be made in vain because some people are losing interest or are dropping their guard. We’ve got to double down right now more than ever.”

Her decision to close indoor bars stemmed from a series of outbreaks, such as the one at Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in East Lansing. The bar has been linked to 138 positive coronavirus cases so far.

Here are some of the other confirmed outbreaks and exposure locations:

The Lansing and Grand Rapids regions have been upgraded to higher risks than the rest of the state, as their rolling seven-day average of new cases skyrocketed from below 10 cases per million population to north of 50, at one point.

Right now, the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region are in phase five of the reopening plan, while the other six geographical regions are stuck on phase four.

From what Whitmer said Tuesday, it seems the state could just as soon move backward than forward.

“Gyms are not open,” Whitmer said. “Theaters are not open. There are a number of other business entities that are not reengaged yet. In so far that we have reengaged hair salons -- that’s something that if we see some outbreaks, we may have to disengage on that front.”

The governor’s office sent Local 4 the following statement on Tuesday:

Gov. Whitmer will continue to monitor the data. If we see a second wave of COVID-19 coming, we may have to move backward in the MI Safe Start Plan, which is the last thing any of us want to do. We must remain flexible and nimble and plan for various scenarios. COVID-19 is still very present in Michigan, and this is not a time for Michiganders to let their guards down. We must continue to do everything in our power to flatten the curve and prevent more spread.”


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