Home » Also Whitmer in recent months has eased coronavirus restrictions voluntarily

Also Whitmer in recent months has eased coronavirus restrictions voluntarily

And in early February, after it was known that the highly contagious variants were circulating in Michigan, but with case numbers declining for close to one month, Whitmer announced she was lifting the moratorium on indoor contact sports, amid pressure from Republicans and advocates for high school sports. Despite strict testing requirements, those sports have since been linked to many outbreaks.

In early March, Whitmer further eased indoor dining restrictions, allowing 50% capacity, as well as allowing increased traffic at retail stores and larger private gatherings. That order came despite a recent increase in Michigan’s weekly case numbers and growing concerns about highly contagious variants.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the recent surge in coronavirus cases that has made Michigan a national outlier is partly the result of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key law she has used to fight the pandemic.

It was a departure from statements Whitmer made immediately following the October ruling, when she said she mostly retained powers related to public health measures but would require legislative approval for other measures, such as extending unemployment insurance benefits and allowing local governments to hold their public meetings remotely. Also, Whitmer in recent months has eased coronavirus restrictions voluntarily — not in response to court rulings — despite rising case numbers.

At the time, the 1945 law was the main tool Whitmer used to issue emergency orders to address the pandemic. At the time of the court ruling, Whitmer said that without the law she generally retained powers related to public health measures but would now need approval of the Legislature for other measures, such as extending unemployment insurance benefits and allowing local governments to hold their public meetings remotely.

More:Michigan was warned about British COVID-19 variant, but many ignored it

More:Why Whitmer is not ‘shutting down’ Michigan despite the nation’s worst COVID-19 surge

Her administration immediately issued new orders under the Public Health Code — a separate state law unaffected by the court ruling — which replicated mask requirements, restrictions on gathering sizes and restaurant capacity, which were among the main features of the controls in place at that time.

“I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to protect the people of Michigan from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said Oct. 22, after the court’s ruling.

In November, with case numbers rising in Michigan and around the country, Whitmer used those powers to impose a temporary ban on indoor dining, indoor contact sports, in-person high school classes and any operations at venues such as movie theaters or bowling alleys. Whitmer later said those restrictions saved lives.

In mid-January, Whitmer announced that indoor fitness classes and non-contact sports could resume, and on Jan. 22, Whitmer announced that indoor dining could resume Feb. 1, at 25% capacity and with a 10 p.m. curfew.

And in early February, after it was known that the highly contagious variants were circulating in Michigan, but with case numbers declining for close to one month, Whitmer announced she was lifting the moratorium on indoor contact sports, amid pressure from Republicans and advocates for high school sports. Despite strict testing requirements, those sports have since been linked to many outbreaks.

In early March, Whitmer further eased indoor dining restrictions, allowing 50% capacity, as well as allowing increased traffic at retail stores and larger private gatherings. That order came despite a recent increase in Michigan’s weekly case numbers and growing concerns about highly contagious variants.

Michigan’s strategy of vaccinating its way out of the surge received a major setback April 13, when the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s “one and done” vaccine, which by requiring only a single dose is the most efficient way of quickly stepping up vaccination rates. There are signs that the announced pause has also lowered confidence in vaccinations more broadly.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, and House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, who were highly critical of Whitmer’s early attempts to control the virus, have both praised the governor’s decision to hold off on new restrictions during the surge.

Though Republican-nominated justices held a 4-3 majority on the Michigan Supreme Court in October, the balance shifted as a result of the November election. Democratic-nominated justices now hold a 4-3 edge.

It was Whitmer’s fourth appearance on “Meet the Press,” the most influential of the Sunday public affairs TV programs, since she took office in 2019. Whitmer appeared in March and again in April of 2020, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic that hit Detroit and other parts of Michigan especially hard, and then in October of last year, soon after federal and state officials brought charges in what they say was a foiled plot to kidnap her by men who opposed restrictions she imposed to address the pandemic.

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