Michigan Just Issued a Surprising New Order to Curb Spiking COVID Cases
With cases increasing, "this fight is not over yet," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says.
As one of the states that was able to find success flattening the curve of COVID cases during initial lockdown orders, officials in Michigan don't want to risk the kind of resurgence seen in other states that had previously shown evidence of containment. But with the number of new cases rising from 6,573 in June to 17,751 in July, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, it seemed like that's exactly what was happening. That's why the state's governor, Gretchen Whitmer, issued an executive order on Aug. 4 requiring the state police to enforce violations of COVID-19 orders "as it would enforce any other violation of law."
Published in full by The Detroit News, Whitmer began by expressing her concern that cases have risen over the past month—"from a rolling seven-day average of about 15 cases per million in mid-June, the low point since the peak last April, to about 50 cases per million in late July." She then went on to outline a series of directives, effective immediately, calling for state departments and agencies to allocate resources to enforcement of COVID-related laws; consider violations as a "public health hazard,"; consider violations when it comes to businesses sustaining licensing; and report and document violations properly without exception.
In addition, Whitmer's order stated: "The Department of State Police must enforce violations of COVID-19 executive orders and epidemic orders in the same manner as it would enforce any other violation of law, using enforcement discretion as appropriate."
Police responded to the order saying that they intended to comply, though noting they had been doing what Gov. Whitmer is asking all along—including enforcing her July 10 mask mandate that ordered misdemeanor penalties and $500 fines for all violators. "[The Michigan State Police] absolutely intends to comply with today's executive directive," department spokesperson Shanon Banner told the The Detroit News. "The directive reaffirms the enforcement posture we have used since the beginning of the pandemic. Our troopers will continue to enforce all of the executive orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan."
A day after the order was issued, the state's top health official had some positive signs to report that, in combination with Whitmer's directive, may indicate Michigan will be able to avoid backsliding into an uncontrollable resurgence of the virus.
"We are seeing a plateau of cases," Joneigh Khaldun, MD, the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said during a press briefing with Gov. Whitmer on Aug. 5, Local News 4 reported. Khaldun also noted that positive test rates were down from the week prior and highlighted other positive indicators she is seeing.
"Hospitalizations and deaths continue to remain steady and low, particularly at the deaths," Khaldun said in the briefing. "These are all good signs, and we will continue to monitor these metrics. But as we all know, even if a trend is stabilizing, it only takes a few people to create an outbreak and have the disease spread rapidly." And for more on what's happening in other parts of the country, Reports of This Hard-Hit State's COVID Progress Are Inaccurate, Doctors Say.