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Gov. Whitmer threatens stricter laws if Michigan residents refuse to ‘mask up’

Whitmer says some residents not taking mask laws seriously

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is threatening to impose stricter mask laws amid a spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and mounting evidence that some residents aren’t taking precautions seriously.

READ: Michigan’s top medical official explains true severity of state’s recent COVID-19 spike

“Over the past week, we have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, and over the holiday weekend, we saw countless Michiganders gathered in large groups to celebrate Fourth of July without a mask,” Whitmer said. “I think a lot of people saw this video footage from Cass County, Diamond Lake. Right now, the law requires that anyone in an enclosed public space has to wear a mask, and that means every store you’re going into. We’re reviewing that requirement and considering whether or not we need to take this a step further, to strengthen compliance, because we cannot let our guard down.”

“The data is not looking so good,” said Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Khaldun said the situation isn’t as extreme as it was in the spring, but Michigan needs to “get back on track” to avoid the cases escalating further.

Whitmer compared Michigan’s spike with the much larger increases in many southern states.

“We cannot afford to play fast and loose with the rules, and just look at what’s happening with Florida,” Whitmer said. “It took less than two weeks for Florida to go from 100,000 to 200,000 positive cases, and the cases there are still climbing. Last week, they reported over 11,000 cases in one day. That can happen very quickly anywhere in this country if we drop our guard. Statewide, one in five cases are patients that are between the ages of 25 and 34. So, youth will not protect you from caring and spreading this virus to your friends and family and neighbors. We have got to all work together to protect one another.”

Whitmer said wearing a mask can reduce the chance of spreading the coronavirus by about 70%.

“(Frontline workers) wear their masks every day,” Whitmer said. “We should be wearing ours, as well. We owe it to them, every time we make a trip out to the grocery store and the pharmacy. If we let our guard down, we could see a rapid increase in cases in Michigan. That means more people getting sick. That means more people dying from this disease. For the sake of your loved ones, for the sake of our economy, please mask up when you go out.

“PPE (personal protective equipment) is crucial to protect the heroes on the frontlines of this crisis, and to help us avoid a second wave as we safely reengage sectors of our economy.”

Current reopening status

Other than the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region, the entire state remains in the fourth phase of Whitmer’s reopening plan -- the “Improving” phase.

Not sure how the regions are broken down? Here are the regions for all 83 Michigan counties.

Whitmer moved the entire state to phase four on June 1 after it was stuck in phase three for more than three weeks -- since the MI Safe Start Plan was introduced May 7.

She originally planned to move to phase five by the Fourth of July weekend, but that plan changed as the number of new daily cases steadily rose late last month and into July. The aforementioned northern regions remain the only ones in phase five.

Whitmer already ended indoor bar services last week after outbreaks linked to bars in East Lansing, Royal Oak and Romulus and a rise in positive cases in the 20-29 age group.

READ: Michigan bars, restaurants can now deliver alcoholic drinks, sell them to-go, offer 2-for-1 deals

More coverage

Here’s much more coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic from throughout the month of June.

Whitmer’s handling of pandemic:

Reopening Michigan:

Health questions, advice:

Unemployment:

Personal stories:

Changes:


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