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Gov. Whitmer extends emergency declaration until Aug. 12

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on July 9 gives an update on COVID-19 cases in Michigan.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday extended her COVID-19 emergency and disaster declaration. The extension will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 11.

Executive Order (EO) 2020-151 marks the third time Whitmer has extended the declaration since EO 2020-4, issued on March 10. Whitmer’s subsequent EO 2020-67 and EO 2020-68, issued April 30, also extended her emergency and disaster declarations, but were challenged by the state legislature.

The Michigan Court of Claims ruled on May 21 that the governor possessed the authority to issue EO 2020-67 under the state’s Emergency Powers Act but lacked the authority to issue EO 2020-68 under Michigan’s Emergency Management Act. Both rulings are under appeal, and oral arguments are scheduled for August.

“COVID-19 has now killed more than 6,000 people in Michigan,” Whitmer stated in a news release. “That’s more than 6,000 of our parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors. And the rising numbers we’ve seen over the past few weeks prove that this virus is still a very real threat in our state.”

In EO 2020-151, Whitmer declared Michigan’s progress in combating COVID-19 “stalled.” She warned of an “acute risk of a second wave,” and noted: “Life will not be back to normal for some time to come.”

According to state data, Michigan reported 543 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on July 13, compared to 2,974 COVID-19 patients on April 27. Fewer than 10 people died each day in the first 13 days of July, or 127 deaths, compared to 232 deaths on April 21, the state’s highest single-day loss attributed to the virus.

“Throughout this crisis, the vast majority of Michiganders have done their part, but we must remain vigilant and continue to do everything we can to protect our loved ones,” Whitmer said.

“That means wearing a mask over your mouth and nose and practicing safe physical distancing when going out in public. If we all do our part now, there is a greater chance that schools can resume in-person learning in the fall. Be smart, be safe, and mask up,” she added.

Last week, Whitmer issued an executive order requiring Michigan residents to wear masks at all indoor public spaces. EO 2020-147 allows for several exemptions, but imposes a $500 fine for each violation. The EO went into effect on Monday, but several law-enforcement agencies have publicly stated they will not enforce it.

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