Whitmer signs directive to strengthen enforcement of Michigan COVID-19 orders

'A single failure could set us back weeks'

Michigan Gov. Whitmer reminds residents to wear masks in public to help stop spread of COVID-19

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is working to make sure her executive orders issued in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are being enforced.

On Tuesday, Whitmer signed Executive Directive 2020-08 to “direct state departments and autonomous agency heads to review allocation of their resources to ensure that enforcement of COVID-19-related laws is a priority,” reads a statement from her office. That includes enforcing limitations on capacity and the requirement to wear a mask when entering a Michigan business.

View: List of Michigan pandemic executive orders that are still active

Here’s the statement from Whitmer included in her directive:

“Where Michigan was once among the states most heavily hit by COVID-19, our per-capita case rate is now below the national average. Our progress in suppressing the disease, however, appears to have slowed. Cases have risen over the past month—from a rolling seven-day average of about 15 cases per million on in mid-June, the low point since the peak last April, to about 50 cases per million in late July.

Enforcement of my executive orders is a key part of ensuring that the resumption of activities does not contribute to the spread of this virus. Without effective enforcement, we will move backwards. Individuals, businesses, and the economy will all suffer. At work and at play—on the job and in social gatherings—compliance is critical to moving forward.

Consider, for example, businesses. Many have already implemented robust infection-control practices—with some even going above and beyond what is required to protect their workers, their patrons, and their communities. But, unfortunately, some have not. A single failure could set us back weeks: an outbreak at an East Lansing bar, one of the largest so far in the United States, resulted in 187 known infections. And these infections then metastasize to other communities, endangering our seniors, our vulnerable populations, and our recovery.

State departments and agencies must ensure that enforcement of COVID-19-related laws receives the priority this pandemic demands. I am sincerely grateful to every Michigander who has sacrificed to fight this virus. We will get through this together, with everyone doing their part.”

According to Whitmer’s office, Executive Directive 2020-08 requires departments to consider violations of law when determining eligibility for licensing.

“This includes any violation of relevant COVID-19 executive orders or epidemic orders. If a state department or agency becomes aware of non-compliance under the law they must consider it to be presumptive evidence of a “public health hazard” or “imminent and substantial hazard to the public health” and take appropriate steps to mitigate any risk to public health and safety. This includes, but is not limited to, suspension of a license or cessation of operation of a food establishment,” reads the statement from the governor’s office.

The Michigan State Police will enforce violations of these COVID-19 related laws, such as executive orders and DHHS epidemic orders, in the same manner as any other violation of law, applying their discretion as appropriate, Whitmer’s office said.

“Departments and agencies who become aware of a violation must share that information with relevant licensing authorities, and collaborate on enforcement to ensure efficiency and effectiveness,” reads the statement from the governor’s office.

Related: Governor says community spread of coronavirus could trigger setback in Michigan’s reopening plan

Coronavirus resources:

COVID-19 in Michigan

Michigan first reported cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 10, 2020. A stay-at-home order was issued March 23 and continued until June 1 when it was lifted.

The state’s case count climbed to a daily peak in early April, then slowed in May.

The state’s daily COVID-19 case count has been on an upward trend since the end of June.

New cases have increased moderately in recent weeks, while deaths remain flat in Michigan. Testing has remained steady, with an average of more than 25,000 per day, with the positive rate between 3 and 4 percent. Hospitalizations have increased slightly, but remain considerably lower than in April.

Michigan has reported 60,022 recoveries. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 17,200 as of Monday. Michigan’s 7-day average moving average for daily cases was 697 on Monday, the highest since early May.

UPDATED: Tracking Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) testing data

Michigan masks order

New rules about masks took effect July 13 in Michigan. Executive Order 2020-147 reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces, where you cannot maintain proper social distancing.

A willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 fine.

“Wearing a mask is an effective and low-cost way to protect ourselves and our families from a deadly disease. It should be -- and is -- the responsibility of every Michigander. This order reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces. Most significantly, the order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering. No shirts, no shoes, no mask—no service,” Whitmer’s order statement reads.

Pros and cons of wearing face shields instead of masks -- watch:

Local 4's Dr. McGeorge explains how face shields differ from face masks when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.