LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a COVID-19 briefing today alongside the state’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon and announced a 12-day extension of the virus restrictions.
Whitmer said the health systems in the state recommended an extension of the order.
“We cannot risk overwhelming our hospitals further and that’s why our hospital systems implored the Department of Health and Human Services to extend the pause. And so we are going to give it 12 more days,” Whitmer said.
The 12 additional days will give the state time to see the effects of travel over Thanksgiving and to make a decision based off of those numbers, Whitmer said.
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox released the following statement about Whitmer’s extension of her administration’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“Michigan businesses and families cannot withstand another shutdown, and I am calling on Governor Whitmer to reverse course and allow Michiganders the freedom to work, go to school, and be with their families during this holiday season. Instead of asking for $400 million dollars in aid, Whitmer should be removing the restrictions she imposed, that are causing the need for aid in the first place,” Cox said.
The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association said it was also disappointed with the decision to keep restaurants shut down and President & CEO Justin Winslow released the following statement:
“We aren’t surprised by the governor’s decision to extend Director Gordon’s MDHHS Order today, but we remain exceptionally disappointed. We firmly believe there is a better approach – one followed by 45 other states – that doesn’t use blunt force closure of a single industry to resolve a shared crisis. We maintain that a more nuanced approach that allows for limited indoor capacity with a curfew will result in greater compliance, better health outcomes and substantially reduced economic fallout.
Upon completion of this most recent Order, restaurant dining rooms will have been closed for 118 days, nearly one-third of the calendar year. We already know the impact of another extended shutdown will be significant, as the industry lost over $8 billion in sales and laid off more than 75 percent of its workforce when it was shuttered for an extended period in the spring.
The restaurant industry is comprised of creative and resilient individuals, but for a growing number of them, this latest pause is the cause of their lost livelihood and well-being.”
Another frustrated group were the athletes in the state. 12 more days of a shutdown means at least 12 more days of not playing sports. The Michigan High School Athletic Association’s executive director Mark Uyl had this to say:
“We realize the crisis our medical caregivers and first responders are navigating and understand the need to continue the pause. However, the MHSAA had provided a detailed plan to both Governor Whitmer and MDHHS that would have completed fall tournaments with no spectators as safely as possible during the month of December along with allowing winter sport practices to resume. While we are disappointed in today’s announcement, we will continue to look forward as we remain committed to play three sports seasons to their conclusion. The MHSAA Representative Council will meet on Wednesday of this week to chart out another plan for finishing Fall and restarting Winter.”
The state will likely roll back the restrictions in phases because progress with COVID-19 is hard to earn, and easy to lose, Gordon said.
“We will do it in a measured way so that we don’t undo the process that we’ve made,” Whitmer said.
The state also announced the new COVID-19 numbers today, with 9,350 new cases over Sunday and Monday, with 93 deaths. The new numbers also put the state over 400,000 confirmed cases.
Dr. Khaldun said that the positivity rate has risen, a very important number that they look at. The positivity rate in the state is 14.1 percent, which is four-times as high as the number was in September.
Dr. Khaldun also spoke about the vaccine once again. She said it’s very important to understand how the vaccine works. The vaccine does not actually give you the virus, it prepares your body for a fight against COVID-19, she said.
When asked about President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani appearing before the state’s House Oversight Committee and then later testing positive for COVID-19, Dr. Khaldun said anyone who was at the hearing should quarantine for 10 days.
Whitmer also chimed in, calling the meeting “reckless” and said it didn’t change anything.
In the information-packed briefing, Whitmer also addressed the threats to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Representatives Cynthia A. Johnson and Lee Chatfield.
“Yesterday we learned that dozens of protestors gathered outside of Secretary Benson’s house as she was putting up Christmas decorations with her 4-year-old son,” Whitmer said. “Representative Cynthia Johnson shared voicemails containing death threats after last weeks hearing with Rudy Giuliani. And Speaker Chatfield had a threat made against him and his family. This is unacceptable. Threats against our elected officials or any office holder, no matter their party, is not acceptable behavior and is unlawful behavior.”