Whitmer: ‘Pause has worked’ and update on COVID-19 restrictions coming next week
LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan’s toughened COVID-19 restrictions in place since Nov. 18 have worked.
Whitmer pointed out that the epidemic order issued and extended by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services succeeded in driving down the state’s key COVID-19 statistics. The number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases, hospitalization rates and the percentage of positive diagnostic tests are well below November’s peak.
“The pause has worked,” Whitmer said.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an epidemic order on Nov. 18 that requires restaurants to close indoor dining service. Entertainment facilities and high schools also closed in November but were allowed to reopen again in December.
Michigan’s coronavirus statistics fell steadily through the month of December except for deaths, which remain well above totals reported in September and October.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who is Michigan’s chief medical executive, said the state appears to have reached a plateau since the week after Christmas.
“I am concerned that we may be seeing a slowing of the progress we saw before the holidays,” Khaldun said.
She noted that the decline in newly confirmed cases is remaining stable at 237 per million people every day after dropping for 46 consecutive days. The percentage of positive COVID-19 diagnostic tests also is creeping back above 9.5% after reaching a two-month low of 8.2% on Dec. 27.
She and other state officials are watching COVID-19 data closely for signs of a possible post-holiday surge in the illness.
Whitmer credited the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services pause and increased restrictions on person-to-person activities for helping bring down coronavirus statistics over the month of December. She said state health officials will watch the data closely this week before deciding whether to extend restrictions again.
Whitmer expects the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will decide whether to reopen dine-in service at restaurants and remove other restrictions. The current epidemic order expires on Jan. 15.
“If we could do what I wanted, we would be moving forward,” Whitmer said, noting that the decision will be based on science and not on individual wishes.
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