(WWJ) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will soon be signing another executive order to extend the State of Emergency in Michigan.
The purpose of the State of Emergency order — which is currently set to expire next week on July 16 — is to permit the governor to continue using executive powers granted under Michigan law only in an emergency.
Live on WWJ Newsradio 950 on Wednesday morning, WWJ's Tom Jordan asked the governor if the order will be extended.
"Yes. I've been very clear about that, I think," Whitmer said. "We've got to stay in the State of Emergency; 49 states are going to continue to stay in a State of Emergency. It's what gives us the ability to protect our frontline workers, and give evictions protections and a lot of the other protections that we've extended to folks in the midst of this pandemic."
“You should expect that will be extended, and perhaps again, until we get a better handle on this virus nationally,” she said.
The State of Emergency went into effect on March 10, 2020, just after the state Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. It has since been extended several times.
The Emergency order should not be confused with Whitmer's stay-home order, which was lifted back on June 1.
The governor says an extension is necessary, as she's concerned about recent outbreaks. “What we are watching is the number of COVID cases going up. We have seen the number go up because of testing, but we’re also seeing the percent of positive tests going up as well,” Whitmer said.
The governor at one point had planned to move the state into Phase 5 of her 'MI Safe Start' plan this month, but now says Phase 5 may be a ways away. Phase 5 would allow larger gatherings and reopen gyms, indoor theaters and casinos.
Looking at the latest numbers from the health department, cases in the state have increased slightly in the last week, while deaths remained flat.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan was 67,237, as of last official count, including 6,015 deaths. The latest update includes 610 new cases and 10 additional deaths reported Wednesday afternoon; the highest daily increase in case since May.
Data from Covid Act Now now shows Michigan is at “high risk” for a coronavirus outbreak. Back on June 18, Michigan was labeled by the same group of researchers as “on track to contain COVID," moving to “experiencing controlled disease growth” on July 2.
As we move forward, Whitmer stressed that contact tracing remains very important, to identify who is at risk.
What is contact tracing? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it's a method used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and people who they came in contact with (contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.
Whitmer is asking Michiganders to pick up the phone when it rings, or regularly listen to voicemails to make sure they're not missing important calls from the health department informing them that they may have been exposed to the virus. Learn more from the CDC about contact tracing, and how it works, HERE.