State officials urge caution with regard to gatherings as Thanksgiving approaches
Mon, 11/23/2020 - 12:10pm caleb
According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the state
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
As Thanksgiving approaches, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state officials offered one more public plea to state residents to use caution during the holiday to avoid possible spread of COVID-19 as cases of the virus continue to climb in Michigan.
“I know this has been a tough time for all of us, tougher for many than I can even imagine. We all owe it to the brave men and women on the front line to do our part and take this seriously, especially as we head into Thanksgiving,” Governor Whitmer said during a press conference on Thursday, November 19.
“We are doing our part when we protect our loved ones and stay apart this holiday. We’re preserving future holiday gatherings together by taking this seriously now. By not gathering with people outside of your household this Thanksgiving it is an act of kindness and love,” Governor Whitmer said. “We know that gathering indoors with people who live outside of our homes, not wearing masks, is exactly how this virus spreads.”
“I urge all of you to be smart and do everything in your power to keep your loved ones safe. We will get through this together,” Governor Whitmer said.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive, during Thursday’s press conference, said COVID-19 cases are rising across the state. Dr. Khaldun reported 285,398 COVID-19 cases and 8,324 deaths from the virus as of November 19.
“We are still seeing an exponential rise in cases across the state,” Dr. Khaldun said. “Every region in the state is seeing alarming case and positivity rates. Our hospitals are closer and closer to being overwhelmed.”
Dr. Khaldun said Michigan, right now, has the fourth highest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the United States behind Texas, Illinois, and California.
“I’m encouraging everyone to please do the right thing and avoid having Thanksgiving with anyone outside of your household. Today, the (Centers for Disease Control) announced clear recommendations that people should not be traveling for Thanksgiving to visit friends or family, especially if someone from your household or someone that you may be visiting is at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, like the elderly or people who may have underlying medical conditions. The smartest thing is not to gather,” Dr. Khaldun said.
“Indoor gatherings are a major way that COVID-19 is spreading right now and at the rates we are seeing in the state it is very likely that if you are gathering for Thanksgiving the virus will also be around the table with you. Bad decisions made at Thanksgiving will mean people will be mourning the deaths of their loved ones by New Year’s,” Dr. Khaldun said.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced a new “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” on Sunday, November 15, and it went into effect on Wednesday, November 18. The new regulations ordered the suspension of in-person learning at high schools and colleges, dine-in service at restaurants, and operation of movie theaters and casinos in the state of Michigan for three weeks.
The new order also tightens restrictions on gatherings.
“Indoor gatherings are prohibited at residential venues, except where no more than 10 persons from no more than 2 households are gathered. Indoor gatherings are prohibited at non-residential venues,” according to the Gatherings and Face Mask Order of November 18.
“Yesterday the epidemic order that the Department of Health issued limiting indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread went into effect,” Governor Whitmer said. “I want to remind everyone that these actions are both targeted and intended to be temporary. These steps are what the public health experts tell us we need to take to avoid overwhelmed hospitals and death counts like we saw in the spring. Doing this will also protect our medical workers, our first responders, and other essential workers who have put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us, people we usually call front liners but I hesitate to use that phrase because it implies there is a second line. We have to respect the people that have been on the front line because they are what’s keeping us safe.”
“If we listen to the medical experts we’re going to beat this virus. We beat this last time by listening to these medical health experts and we can and we will do it again if we do it together,” Governor Whitmer said.
The Gatherings and Face Mask Order says that restaurants and bars have to suspend dine-in service for three weeks and operate by delivery or take-out basis only. The governor encouraged people to continue supporting Michigan restaurants.
“I know that there are a lot of restaurants in our state that are worried about the weeks to come. I’m worried too. I urge all Michiganders to support your favorite local restaurant by ordering take-out and delivery or buying a gift card for yourself later or for your friends. It helps these businesses now,” Governor Whitmer said.
The current Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order says that “a retail store” can stay open as long as it does “not exceed 30% of total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal.”
“Businesses in Michigan are required by law to enforce strict safety measures to protect their employees, their customers, and our families, so if you walk into a business and they’re not wearing masks and not looking out for your safety, I encourage you to walk out,” Governor Whitmer said.
Governor Whitmer asked Michigan residents to consider shopping locally more this year.
“Under the MDHHS epidemic order retail remains open with strict safety measures in place,” Governor Whitmer said. “As Black Friday and the holiday season approaches there are steps that each of us can take at the individual level to help small businesses in our communities. As you get ready for the holidays I urge you to support local businesses and ensure that you are staying safe by wearing your mask and respecting the safety of the people that own these small businesses and their employees.”
“If we switch one in 10 of our out-of-state purchases to local stores, Michigan would gain $1.2 billion in increased economic activity. Just 10 percent of your out-of-state purchasing staying here at home has a massive impact to these businesses, these families, and right here at home, so this season let’s shop local, let’s dine local – get that take-out – and stay local and support small businesses and workers that are the heartbeat of our communities,” Governor Whitmer said.
Governor Whitmer asked Michigan residents to continue their efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. This virus can be deadly for everyone. That’s why these next three weeks are so crucial. We flattened the curve in the spring by listening to our public health and medical experts. We can do this again. You have the power to help us push this curve down. Every one of us has the power to make choices that will contribute to that and it’s going to take all of us working together,” Governor Whitmer said.