Local Leaders Clash Over Governor Whitmer's "Safer at Home" Order

Hackel: "I'm having a hard time explaining to businesses...what it will take for them to start up again"

WWJ News
May 23, 2020 - 3:45 pm
whitmer may 15

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Photo: State of Michigan)

(WWJ) Local leaders are speaking out about Governor Whitmer’s decision to extend the “Safer at Home Order" (EO-2020-100) to June 12.

Oakland County Executive, Dave Coulter, and Macomb County Executive, Mark Hackel, are on opposite sides of the debate.

Hackel said he is not in support of her decision and fails to understand the rationale for it.

“Now we’re opening the Northern part of the state, Sectors 6 and 8, without understanding in the numbers what allowed that to happen. Yet we’re pushing forward again for a Stay-at-Home, Stay Safe Order because of some numbers in mid-Michigan and the west side,” Hackel spoke live on WWJ.  “So, it’s like okay, I’m having a hard time explaining to the public, to the businesses in Macomb County what it will take for them to start up again.”

On the other hand, Coulter supports Governor Whitmer’s decision.

It’s not all or nothing, he told WWJ’s Mike Campbell. 

Coulter said activity is increasing across Oakland County, especially regarding people returning to work and becoming more comfortable with getting carry-out from local restaurants.

“I think we are beginning to see the phased re-opening of our economy. But the bottom line is when you’re not doing those things, it is still safest to be at home. We have not defeated the virus yet, and we still have to be very careful and cautious.”

Governor Whitmer has signed Executive Orders to allow real estate agents, construction workers, landscapers and manufacturers to return to work.

Retail businesses and auto showrooms can reopen on Tuesday by appointment. Dental, veterinary services and non-essential medical procedures can resume on Friday, under the Governor’s order (EO-2020-96).

Testing will be key to consumer confidence, Coulter said.

“I’m convinced we won’t fully be able to reopen until we do a lot more testing” Coulter said.

He added people must have confidence that employees at stores and restaurants have been screened for the virus.

Macomb County has 6,602 confirmed cases of the virus and 779 deaths to date. 78 of those cases were new (by date of onset) since Monday, according to the Macomb County COVID-19 Dashboard.  

Oakland County has 8,200 residents who tested positive for the virus and 947 deaths. They reported nearly 460 new cases of the virus in the same period of time, according to the Oakland County COVID-19 Dashboard.

Still, Coulter said the county is making significant progress in battling the virus. 

“We got to do testing, we got to tracing and then we look at the hospital numbers,” Coulter said. “All of those numbers are going in the right direction.”