Michigan Issues New Coronavirus Restrictions As Cases Skyrocket

Joey Oliver
·3 min read

MICHIGAN — Indoor social gatherings and other group activities have been paused for three weeks in Michigan as officials work to curb rapidly rising coronavirus infection rates, officials announced Sunday.

Indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at any one time, according to the order. MDHHS is urging families to only interact with one other household over the next three weeks.

"This situation has never been more dire," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a news conference announcing the restrictions Sunday. "As the weather gets colder and people psend more time indoors, the virus will spread and more people will get sick and there will be more fatalities."

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Michigan shattered its single-day record of new coronavirus cases Friday, reporting more than 8,500 new cases of the virus.

Michigan has seen an uptick in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks. As of Saturday, the state had reported more than 251,000 confirmed cases of the virus and nearly 8,000 reported COVID-19 deaths.

The state has reported that over 138,000 people in the state have recovered from the virus.

Whitmer said that data gathered by state health officials suggests that if Michigan stays on its current track it could see more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per week. Officials also said they are investigating 980 COVID-19 outbreaks across the state — including over 200 in schools.

"I want you to think about that," she said Sunday. "1,000 deaths per week is what one of the models tells us to date."

Officials said the order is aimed at limiting residential and non-residential gatherings where COVID-19 spreads rapidly. Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes will be closed.

Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, but the state said all other organized sports must stop. Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning, but must end in-person classes.

“Indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said. “The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act. By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives.”

Sunday's order, which takes effect Wednesday, is not a blanket stay-home action like what was issued in the spring, Whitmer said. The order leaves open work that cannot be performed from home, including for manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open.

Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

Michigan has seen fewer outbreaks associated with elementary and middle schools, and younger children are most in need of in-person instruction, the state said in a news release. In-person K-8 schooling may continue if it can be done with strong mitigation, including mask requirements, based on discussion between local health and school officials. Childcare also remains open to support working parents.

“The data we are seeing is alarming. COVID-19 is impacting every area of our state," said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Joneigh Khaldun. "Our healthcare systems are becoming overwhelmed, and our contact tracers cannot keep up. If we do not act now, we risk thousands more deaths, and even more people having long-term health consequences. The actions we are taking today are the best opportunity we have to get this virus under control.”

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch