Michigan health officials release studies used to determine COVID-19 restrictions

MDHHS order keeps restrictions in place through Dec. 20

Michigan officials release data behind COVID-19 restrictions

LANSING, Mich. – On Monday, Michigan health officials released a series of studies, which they have used to justify the decision to halt indoor dining, close entertainment venues and call a timeout on organized sports, as well as the 12-day extension.

“This may be the most difficult time in our whole struggle with COVID-19 since March, especially with the holidays approaching,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said at a press conference on Monday.

For weeks, restaurant owners and lawmakers have asked the governor to be more transparent about the science behind the orders.

They include several studies from various points in the pandemic from South Korea, JP Morgan and Johns Hopkins University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Journal Nature.

“The science on eating and drinking inside is settled,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said, adding two anecdotes from a study that described two people contracting COVID-19 while 15-20 feet from someone unmasked for just five minutes.

In one recent study from Stanford University, which tracked the location data of 98 million people, determined that close contact without masks in restaurants was four times riskier than going to a coffee shop or a gym.

State doctors are also keeping a close watch on three key metrics needed to reopen -- hospitalizations, case numbers that drive hospitalizations, and the percent of positive cases that can show potential community spread. Experts are hoping hospitalizations decline and want cases and the positivity rate to drop before lifting the restrictions.

Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun the process will be slow as hospitals continue to see patients.

“I worked a shift in the critical care area of the ER this past weekend. I can tell you that this virus is real. People are still coming into ERs even weeks after they have been diagnosed,” Khaldun said.

About the Author:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.