Michigan will have to return to phase 3 of reopening plan if COVID-19 spike continues, Whitmer says

Whitmer warns 'spotty compliance' with mask rules could send state backward

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

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said if the current trajectory of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues, the state will be moved back to phase three of her reopening plan, meaning parts of the economy that reopened within the last month would be shut down once again.

“Right now we are trying to hold on to stay in phase four,” Whitmer said. “But if that trajectory continues, we have to move some regions back to phase three, that means there will be no in-person instruction (at schools).”

Michigan officials reported 891 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, which is the most daily cases since May 14. In that time, the highest daily total was 773 on May 18.

“What I can tell you is that if the numbers keep going where they’re going, it’s going to be very problematic, and we may very likely have to take some steps backward,” Whitmer said.

READ: Whitmer extends Michigan state of emergency until Aug. 11

She said the next steps will be determined by what people do between now and when schools are scheduled to begin the fall semester -- 55 days away on Sept. 8.

Masks were again a common topic during Wednesday’s briefing, and Whitmer emphasized repeatedly that Michiganders need to follow her new mask guidelines if they want to move forward.

“I am hopeful that in the coming weeks we’re going to see these numbers go down, and perhaps we can solidify at least phase four, maybe even reengage more things in our economy,” Whitmer said. “But it all depends on mask wearing, and that’s why it’s so difficult to give you a hard and fast date, and a hard and fast number.”

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.

More coverage

Here’s much more recent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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.