Michigan shuts down in response to COVID-19

Governor issues stay-at-home order

C&G Newspapers | Published March 24, 2020

 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer explains her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order in Lansing March 23.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer explains her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order in Lansing March 23.

Photo provided by the Governor's Office

All “non-critical” businesses in Michigan were ordered to close by midnight in an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer March 23.

The order closed a vast swath of businesses — except, among others, grocery stores, pharmacies, and carryout or delivery restaurants — and requires residents who are not among the exempted workers to stay in their homes except for functions like buying groceries or exercising outside. A full list of the businesses and organizations affected by the order can be found on the state’s website, https://www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus.

Whitmer directed all people to stay home or 6 feet away from others in the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21. 

Effective at 12:01 a.m. March 24 “for at least the next three weeks,” people can only leave their homes under “very limited circumstances,” states a press release from Whitmer’s office.

“This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives,” Whitmer states in the press release, which cited the ever-changing number of people in Michigan who have tested positive for the COVID-19 respiratory virus. 

Critics of the governor’s orders have said the positive number of tests only reflects increased testing, and they say the move to require residents to shelter in place and businesses to close will have devastating economic impacts. In one week, well over 100,000 people filed for unemployment in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. That’s a 2,100% increase in normal filings, according to the department, and that was calculated before the stay-at-home order.

However, Whitmer said the measures — which follow shuttering schools and houses of worship earlier in March — are needed so that health care workers are not overwhelmed by coronavirus patients, who can progress to dangerous or fatal pneumonia quickly.

 “Taking aggressive action to protect our communities is the most important thing we can do to mitigate further spread of COVID-19,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in the press release. “If we do this now, we can make sure our hospitals and healthcare workers are prepared to take care of the sickest people. It is crucial that people do the right thing by staying home and staying safe.” 

Workers deemed necessary to sustain or protect life include health care and public health workers, law enforcement and public safety officers, grocery store workers, and more.

Michigan joined other states taking similar measures, including Ohio, Illinois and California. 

Whitmer’s executive order extends unemployed workers’ benefits from 20 to 26 weeks and waives in-person registration and work search requirements.

The U.S. Small Business Administration approved Whitmer’s request for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration to help small businesses access low-interest loans from the SBA. The application for disaster loan assistance is available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.  

For updated information, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or CDC.gov/Coronavirus.    

People who have questions about the shutdown can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.  

What to do

- If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.       

- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If that’s not available, use hand sanitizer.         

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.         

- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.         

- Avoid contact with people who are sick.         

- If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.        

- Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.