Governor extends ‘stay home’ order, with new standards

To slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday extended and tightened a March 23 Executive Order that requires Michiganders to stay home except for critical needs.

Slated to expire on April 13, the order now in place through April 30 also requires closure of non-essential businesses and prohibits gatherings,  public or private, with groups outside your immediate household.

In addition to public health and government services, the original order established a number of exceptions for essential businesses, including restaurants, big box retailers, auto repair shops, gas stations, child care facilities, banks, credit unions, pet supply, laundromats, and liquor stores.

New conditions include:

  • Large stores must limit the number of customers to no more than four for every 1,000 square feet. As an example, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in downtown Farmington, at around 26,000 square feet, could accommodate 104 customers at a time within the order.
  • Large stores must also close off areas where furniture, carpeting, paint, gardening supplies, and plants are sold.
  • Smaller stores must limit the number of customers to 25 percent of their established occupancy limit under fire codes.
  • Stores must also mark floors to ensure that people stay within the six-foot social distancing guideline established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“If you’re not buying food or medicine or other essentials, you should not be going to the store,” Whitmer said during a live-streamed press conference. She also urged people to shop alone, unless they had no choice but to bring family members.

While some lawmakers have asked for a loosening of restrictions on some businesses, including golf courses and landscaping, Whitmer said weakening the order with more exceptions would put lives at risk.

She also said people should not expect a return to normal on April 30.

“Based on the data we have right now, this is what is needed and an appropriate window for the extension,” Whitmer said. “The extension almost certainly will not be the last we have to say about how we protect the people of our state.”

Sustained social distancing

Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the state has 21,504 COVID-19 cases, and 1,076 Michiganders have died from the disease. An Oakland County data map shows that across the four major Farmington-Farmington Hills ZIP codes, nearly 400 residents have been diagnosed with the virus, and 36 have lost their lives.

Khaldun said that while there’s not enough testing across the state, “We are seeing some very early data that suggests the growth rate for positive cases may be slowing… All model projections are clear that without sustained social distancing measures, more people will die and hospitals will become overwhelmed.”

A Detroit field hospital at the TCF Center (formerly Cobo Center) will begin taking stabilized COVID-19 patients on Friday, and officials expect another under construction at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi will open in the next week or two.

For more information, visit michigan.gov/Coronavirus or oakgov.com/covid/. If you have questions or concerns about your health, call the Oakland County Nurse on Call, 800-848-5533. Other COVID-19 questions should be directed to the County’s hotline, 248-858-1000.

Reported by