LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday told Michigan residents to stay at home, in her most sweeping order of the coronavirus crisis, warning that a million people could need hospital beds if they keep mixing with each other and spreading the illness.
Whitmer talked about dire results akin to those seen in Italy if people don’t follow her order.
At least 1,328 people have tested positive in the state since March 10, and COVID-19 deaths in the state have climbed to 15.
“This disease can’t spread person to person if we’re not out there. ... Too many people are still out and about unnecessarily, so we must do more,” Whitmer said.
The order, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, will prohibit employers from requiring workers to leave their homes unless necessary to protect life or conduct minimum basic operations. It also bars all gatherings of any number outside a single household.
“Don’t play fast and loose with what is essential and what’s not. Don’t try to skirt the rules,” said Whitmer, who added that fines against businesses are possible.
Grocery stores, gas stations, banks and pharmacies will be open, and people can run, walk, hike and ride bikes as long as they stay 6 feet from others.
“Do not panic. Do not hoard,” Whitmer said.
Schools will be closed until at least April 13, extending the statewide shutdown by a week.
State police spokesman Lt. Mike Shaw tried to ease anxieties: “It’s not martial law. It’s not a lockdown. It’s a way for you to protect your family.”
The stay-at-home policy comes after governors in California, New York, Illinois, Ohio and other states issued similar orders.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.
Under certain models, it’s possible that more than 70 percent of Michigan residents – 7 million people – could become infected, and 1 million would need to be admitted to hospitals, unless the virus is slowed down, Whitmer said.
“We have about 25,000 acute beds in Michigan. Think about that,” the governor said.
The goal, she said, is to buy time so hospitals are not overwhelmed and have a “fighting chance” by creating surge capacity, accelerating testing and developing therapeutic drugs.
Whitmer a week ago tried to reduce the spread by limiting crowds at popular gathering spots and closing schools. Bars, fitness clubs and theaters are closed, and restaurants can only prepare food for carry-out.
In Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan said 282 police officers were off work awaiting test results or self-quarantining, although 152 will return by the end of the week. Daily bus service will be reduced to Saturday-style routes.
The University of Michigan extended a ban on in-person classes to the spring and summer terms, which start May 5.
Even fishing isn’t immune. The state will wait until mid-May before stocking mature trout in the Huron River in Oakland County and Spring Mill Pond in Livingston County. Officials don’t want excited anglers getting close to each other to land a big brown trout.
Who and what is exempt from Michigan stay-at-home order
A list of who and what is exempted:
Critical infrastructure workers
Health care and public health
Law enforcement, public safety, first responders
Food and agriculture
Water and wastewater
Transportation and logistics
Communications and information technology, including news media
Government operations and essential functions
Chemical supply chains and safety
Defense industrial base
Child care, but only to serve children or dependents of critical infrastructure workers
Suppliers of businesses or operations that employ critical infrastructure workers
Insurance, but only if work cannot be done by telephone or remotely
Those who work for or volunteer for places providing food and shelter to low-income people and the disabled
Workers who perform critical labor union functions, including those administering health and welfare funds and monitoring the well-being and safety of members who are critical infrastructure workers. The work should be done by phone or remotely where possible.
Workers necessary to conduct minimum basic operations
Workers whose presence is strictly necessary to allow a business or operation to maintain the value of inventory and equipment, care for animals, ensure security, process transactions – including payroll and employee benefits – or facilitate the ability of other employees to work remotely.
People can leave their home to:
Engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least 6 feet from people from outside their household.
Perform tasks that are necessary to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members, including pets. Examples include getting medicine and seeking emergency medical or dental care.
Obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves, their family or household members and their vehicles. Individuals must secure such services or supplies via delivery to the maximum extent possible. Examples include buying groceries, takeout food, gasoline, needed medical supplies and any other products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and basic operation of their residence.
Care for a family member or a family member’s pet in another household.
Care for minors, dependents, the elderly, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.
Visit an individual under the care of a health care facility to the extent otherwise permitted.
Attend legal proceedings or hearings for essential or emergency purposes as ordered by a court.
Work or volunteer for places that provide food and shelter for low-income or otherwise needy individuals.
Return to a home or place of residence from outside this state.
Leave Michigan for a home or residence elsewhere.
Travel between two residences in the state.
Transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.
Source: Executive Order 2020-21