(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a stay-at-home order Monday, temporarily closing all nonessential Michigan businesses. Nonessential is defined as having operations that are not “necessary to sustain or protect life.”
The order goes into effect at midnight and will last through April 13.
The order directs Michiganders to stay at home in most circumstances, with exemptions including outdoor exercise, essential work, or health and safety tasks, such as going to the hospital or the grocery store.
Residents who leave their homes must follow social distancing guidelines of at least six feet.
“In just 13 days, we’ve gone from 0 to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases,” Whitmer said in a news release. “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities.
“The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary,” she said. “If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives.”
Essential workers include healthcare, public health, law enforcement, news media, financial services, and more (section 8 of the EO).
The order temporarily prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single home.
State Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun approved the measure to reduce overloading healthcare bed capacity.
“Taking aggressive action to protect our communities is the most important thing we can do to mitigate further spread of COVID-19,” Khaldun said. “If we do this now, we can make sure our hospitals and healthcare workers are prepared to take care of the sickest people. It is crucial that people do the right thing by staying home and staying safe.”
Khaldun said there were dozens of patients currently in the Intensive Care Unit, with a total of 15 COVID-19 related deaths.
The state reported 1,035 positive COVID-19 cases as of Sunday.
Michigan follows California, Connecticut, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and New Jersey in issuing stay at home orders.
COVID-19 symptoms can appear between two and 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said the action was necessary.
“Our response to these orders could be the determining factor in how long the virus impacts our state,” Shirkey said in a news release.
“We realize these orders have a dramatic impact on our families, our job providers, and our economy. Senators have provided input on these orders based on information from our constituents about how these measures impact their lives and livelihood. We are actively working on short and long-term responses to help people across Michigan.”
Whitmer concluded by calling on everyone to do their part.
“So we’re asking, stay home, stay safe, save lives,” she said. “That’s the most important thing that we can all do right now.”