Gov. Whitmer: “Too Early to Tell” If Pause Has Slowed COVID or Order Will Be Extended

Nearly two weeks into the three-week Michigan State Health Department mandated epidemic order that halted dine-in service at bars and restaurants and re-closed theaters, bowling alleys and some other businesses, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says that with coronavirus case numbers continuing to rise it is still “too early to say” if the state will extend or expand the orders when they expire next week.

Currently, the order runs through Tuesday, December 8th, but Gov. Whitmer, in a pandemic update press conference this afternoon declined to say if it would be extended.

Whitmer says that she and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun are working with medical experts and the University of Michigan School of PublicHealth, alongside the health department, local experts and county leaders across the state to determine the impact of the “pause.” She says that she spent a lot of time on Sunday with national experts to determine how best to protect the people of Michigan.

When asked by a reporter about any potential extension, Whitmer said, “At this point in time it is just too early to say precisely where we will be in a few days, much less next week. It’s important for people to know that we have not predetermined anything.” Any decision made “will be driven by where we see the numbers, and we have modeling calls, plus we are getting up-to-date information as we continue to monitor the numbers.” Whitmer reiterated several times, “We will also continue to center our work around keeping people safe.”

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Explaining the logic behind the state’s decision on Sunday, November 15th to halt indoor dining and some other functions, Whitmer says, “The epidemic order was geared toward stopping the spread of COVID by limiting interactions that are indoors, where people are maskless, where there are many households present. That’s why it has been a very targeted way of trying to bring our numbers down and keep people safe.” She adds, “We also, as we are consulting our health experts, and getting this data, we know what it takes to be successful. If more people embrace masking up, and avoid any gatherings that have multiple households that are indoors and maskless, it’s inherently dangerous. So if everyone does their part we’ll see these numbers drop and we’ll be in a stronger position both for our health systems that are really seeing numbers fill up, and also seeing medical employees, nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists, succumb to COVID themselves because of the high prevalence in communities, and that is our most urgent priority right now and that’s what we’re focusing on to get our numbers back down.”

In conclusion, she says, “I would anticipate early next week we’ll have a much better idea of what this pause has meant, if people have taken it seriously and done their part and that will inform any decision going forward.” Stay tuned.