At least 16 Michiganders have the coronavirus. Now all large-scale events are banned. Here’s the latest.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday ordered the cancellation or postponement of all events and gatherings of more than 250 people in an attempt to combat the spread of the coronavirus, exempting industrial work, mass transit and the purchase of groceries or consumer goods.
The ban was set to begin at 5 p.m. and end April 5. The University of Michigan canceled all graduation activities in May.
Whitmer’s executive order was issued days after she declared an emergency and later urged groups to cancel or delay gatherings, conferences and sporting events attended by more than 100 people. It specifically covers but is not limited to rooms, halls, cafeterias, auditoriums, theaters or galleries.
“This is about protecting the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus,” Whitmer said in a statement, a day after announcing that all public and private schools — covering more than 1.5 million kids — would be closed for three weeks starting Monday due to the pandemic.
“We know that this is very disappointing to many, and we are looking at ways to celebrate 2020 graduates in the future,” University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said in a campus-wide announcement.
As of Friday, Michigan had 16 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, after four additional positive tests were announced — in Detroit, Wayne and Washtenaw counties, and an undisclosed county.
One infected person is a teacher at the Hillel Day School, a Jewish school in Farmington Hills outside of Detroit. The school’s first- and second-graders, and the teacher’s colleagues will remain in self-quarantine through March 23, officials said.
Dr. Russell Faust, medical director for Oakland County, said it is “very clear” that the U.S. does not have enough tests for public health labs. But he said that as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ramps up production and commercial labs come online with tests, all hospital systems in his county would be able to do their own testing in the next 48 to 72 hours.
“Right now, we’re still a little bit limited,” he said.
Officials continued recommending that people wash their hands, not touch faces, disinfect surfaces, keep a distance from others when out in public, and stay home if sick.
Also Friday, the state ceased visits to its nearly 38,000 prisoners to limit their exposure to the virus. Their lawyers are exempt.
“This was not a decision we arrived at lightly, as we understand and recognize the importance of family contact with the prison population,” said Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. ”Our primary concern has to be public safety, and reducing the number of people who enter our facilities is a key factor in limiting the potential spread of this illness into our prisoner population.”
Corrections officers and others working inside 29 prisons will be asked screening questions and will have their temperature checked before being allowed to enter. Those with a temperature above 100.4 will not be allowed to work.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus, which has infected more than 137,000 people worldwide and has killed more than 5,000.
The Michigan Department of Education said it planned to talk with K-12 districts regarding the feeding of children during the three-week closure. About 727,000, or half, of public students were eligible for free or free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school last year, with a participation rate of roughly 70%, according to the state.
“These are complex issues in a rapidly changing environment in a state of 842 diverse school districts,” said spokesman Martin Ackley. “Guidance will be released to school districts on a subject-by-subject basis as information and/or updates become available.”
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan postponed many in-person civil and criminal appearances at its five courthouses, and all grand jury proceedings. Certain criminal matters before magistrates, such as initial appearances, arraignments and detention hearings, will continue.
Security officers will screen all courthouse visitors on their travel history, health and potential contact with people diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Imams Council of Michigan canceled weekly prayer gatherings at mosques.