Michigan Declares State of Disaster As Virus Deaths Reach 337

April 2, 2020 Updated: April 2, 2020

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on April 1 extending the state of emergency and formally declaring a state of disaster due to the outbreak of the CCP virus.

Whitmer had initially signed a state of emergency on March 10, when Michigan had confirmed two cases of the CCP virus. As of April 2, the state has 9,334 confirmed cases of the virus, while 337 deaths have been attributed to the disease. The state of emergency allowed the state to purchase health-related items without a bid and was in place until the end of March before its extension.

The governor said Wednesday’s disaster declaration recognizes an expanded scope of economic, educational, and civic dislocation caused by the CCP virus and equips the administration to address adequately the devastation caused by it.

“Since Michigan announced our first confirmed cases of COVID-19 three weeks ago, we have taken some of the most aggressive measures in the country to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect Michigan families,” said Whitmer in a press release. “Today’s action will allow my administration to respond more effectively to every facet of this crisis. During this time, it’s crucial that Michiganders continue to stay home and keep their distance from others. We will get through this together.”

As the number of confirmed cases across the state continues to rise, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive, and Chief Deputy Director for Health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) urged people to do “everything we can to slow the spread.”

“The governor has taken a number of critical steps to protect Michigan families, and this order today will allow that work to continue. I will keep working closely with the governor and our partners across state government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” she added.

In addition to issuing the Executive Order, the governor also sent a letter (pdf) to Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Mich.) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Mich.) requesting a concurrent resolution extending the declared state of emergency and disaster by 70 days from the date of the resolution. State law only allows a State of Emergency to last for 28 days unless the State House and Senate pass a resolution making it longer.

“To meet the steep, varied, and ongoing demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic, my administration must continue to use the full range of tools available to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our state and its residents. I welcome you and your colleagues’ continued partnership in fighting this pandemic,” Whitmer wrote in her letter.

Whitmer had previously signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” order directing non-essential businesses, including restaurants, clubs, gyms, and movie theaters to temporarily suspend operations and directing all Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they are part of the critical workforce. However, essential services, such as grocery stores, banks, and pharmacies, were able to continue operating.