Michigan Halts High School Classes; Indoor Dining
November 16, 2020
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration on Sunday ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and stopped organized sports — including the football playoffs — in a bid to curb Michigan’s spiking coronavirus cases.
The restrictions will begin Wednesday and last three weeks. They are not nearly as sweeping as when the governor issued a stay-at-home order last spring, but they are extensive.
An order written by the state health department also limits indoor residential gatherings to no more than two households, restricts outdoor gatherings to 25 people and closes entertainment facilities such as theaters, bowling alleys and indoor water parks. Gyms and pools can stay open for individual exercise but not group classes.
The move came as the state faces surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed,” Whitmer said. “We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus.”
Robert Gordon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said “indoor gatherings are the great source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus.”
Legislative Republicans immediately responded, as Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey issued a statement condemning the order. Shirkey said Whitmer did not include advice from lawmakers in her new restrictions. "We are disappointed that Gov. Whitmer chose to go it alone, again. The Senate Republicans will continue working with our doctors and the medical community on ways we can combat this virus and are ready to work with the governor when she decides to work as a team to fight this virus."
However, that was immediately pushed back against by medical professionals. Rob Casalou, the President & CEO of Trinity Health Michigan, which includes the St. Joseph Mercy Health System, tweeted out that “as a member of the medical community you claim you are working with, we don’t see you. One phone call with our CMOs (Chief Medical Officers) does not constitute working with us. We have told you we are in trouble but you decided that the pandemic was a good time to take a vacation.”
Mike, as a member of the medical community you claim you are working with, we don’t see you. One phone call with our CMOs does not constitute working with us. We have told you we are in trouble but you decided that the pandemic was a good time to take a vacation.— Rob Casalou (@CasalouRob) November 15, 2020
The House & Senate are currently on break. The House ended its session early last week saying there was nothing of consequence to work on, but then the following it day it was revealed that several GOP legislators, including Ann Bollin of Brighton Township, had contracted the virus.
Adding to the critique was Jamie Brown, president of the Michigan Nurses Association, who is also a critical care nurse. She said that the state is, “in an out-of-control crisis because too many people are not taking COVID seriously and are failing to act responsibly. Nurses and frontline health workers are at a breaking point all across the state as the spread of COVID accelerates and people, including nurses, continue to die."
In addition, officials from the Michigan Community College Association, Michigan Association of State Universities and Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities also issued statements that they were in support of the new limitations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.