Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended her Michigan stay-at-home order through May 28. The announcement came despite protests to ease social distancing measures.
Whitmer told the public on Thursday that she signed an executive order for the extension of her Michstay-at-home order. With this, residents have to stay home through May 28.
The governor made the decision despite protesters and state officials calling for loosened social distancing measures.
However, the stay-at-home order will allow manufacturing workers to go back to work on Monday.
“This is good news for our state, our businesses, and our working families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but this is an important step forward on our MI Safe Start plan to re-engage our economy safely and responsibly.”
“As we continue to phase in sectors of our economy, I will keep working around the clock to ensure our businesses adopt best practices to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19,” her statement says.
“When we all keep doing our part, we can reduce the risk of a second wave and re-engage our economy safely and responsibly.”
Whitmer has faced demonstrations because of her stay-at-home orders, including at her home. Last week, the protests on Michigan’s Capitol involved firearms. Their aim was to pressure the governor to implement more relaxed measures.
The six-phase plan
However, Whitmer is vocal about the importance of listening to medical professionals. She launched a six-phase plan on Thursday which aims to avoid a second wave of infections.
The governor said the state is in phase three of her plan, labeled as “flattening.” This means coronavirus cases are no longer increasing and the health system is becoming stable.
Based on the governor’s plan, the state should aim to reach the “improving” and “containing” phases next before it lands on the “post-pandemic” phase. This refers to a situation where the spread of the virus would no longer return.
“We have to reengage like a dial, not a switch that goes on or off, but a dial that we can turn,” Whitmer said.
A considerable amount of reengagement will take effect on Monday. This means workers in manufacturing can start phasing into work.
On Thursday, Whitmer said that the manufacturing industry accounts for nearly 20% of the state’s economy.
The three giant auto suppliers, in coordination with the United Auto Workers union, will begin resuming work on May 18. The companies will begin at 25% capacity before phasing up.
“My team and I determined that manufacturing has a lower risk score than some other industries,” she said, explaining why the state is moving forward with reopening that sector.
Manufacturing facilities must implement safety measures to ensure the safety and protection of their workers in order to reopen, Whitmer said.
Unemployment in Michigan
One of the challenges Michigan faced is unemployment.
More than a quarter of the state’s workforce filed for unemployment benefits. This is equivalent to over one million Michiganders seeking jobless benefits, according to the state’s labor department.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer expanded the qualification for economic assistance to self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, and low-wage workers affected by COVID-19.
“This money is critical for families to put food on their tables, to pay their bills, and to buy prescription drugs and it’ll be critical for the reopening of our economy. But we also know it’s of little comfort to individuals who are worried about their economic future and still have not been able to file for unemployment benefits. And we want to help,” said Jeff Donofrio, the director of Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.