Whitmer Says She Won't Be Moving Michigan Into Phase 5 This Week As She'd Hoped

WWJ News
June 23, 2020 - 2:34 pm

(WWJ) Michigan will not be moving into the next phase of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's economic reopening plan — at least not as soon as she wanted.

"My hope was to most the rest of the state into Phase 5 by Fourth of July," Whitmer told WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick on Tuesday.

"My hope was to do it this week — we're not gonna do it this week. We're breaking news right here, Tim, but we're not in a position to do that yet. We've gotta get more data, because we are concerned."

Whitmer said most Michiganders are doing the right thing by wearing masks and keeping their distance from others, but there are fresh worries about outbreaks of COVID-19. 

While the numbers throughout most of the state still look good, Whitmer said there are some blips that health officials are keeping a close eye on. 

"We're watching the data every single day, as you know," Whitmer said. "We had a data call today and I saw reports right out of here, out of Ingham County Health Department that there was, you know, 12 or 14 cases of COVID-19 — all of whom pointed to having been at an establishment in East Lansing; an establishment that's been highlighted on Twitter and on social media for having big crowds." 

The Ingham County Health Department said that 14 people tested positive for COVID-19 after patronizing Harper's Restaurant & Brewpub in downtown East Lansing. Anyone who was there from June 12 to 20 is urged to watch for symptoms, and consider getting tested. (More on this here).

The governor said Michigan has made a lot of progress, and other states are still "looking at us and wanting to be where we are."

"But my concern is that if people drop their guard we'll see outbreaks of COVID-19, and we have seen that here in the Lansing area. We have seen a COVID-19 outbreak in Midland when people came in to help with the flooding event. We saw it happen in Traverse City," the governor said. 

"We know that COVID-19 is still here, and that's why every one of us has to continue to take this seriously," she added. "If we can trace and keep it from spreading exponentially we'll be OK, but if people just drop their guard and don't answer the phone when the department of public health calls...it is something that I think can put all of this sacrifice that we've made in jeopardy."

Whitmer said she will not rule out the possibility that Michigan may have to take a step back if cases continue to increase. 

The Upper Peninsula and Traverse City region already moved into Phase 5 — the “containing” phase of Whitmer's 'MI Safe Start' plan — back on June 10. In Phase 5, indoor social gatherings and organized events of up to 50 people will be allowed, as well as outdoor social gatherings and  events of up to 250 people, provided that people maintain six feet of distance from one another. Also in Phase 5, outdoor performance and sporting venues will be allowed open with a larger capacity limit of 500, and indoor movie theaters are also expected to open, with safety protocols in place.