COVID “pause” extended 12 days

The governor announced Monday that the three-week-old pause on indoor dining, large gatherings, and most in-person classes will be extended by nearly two weeks.

With cases of COVID-19 still high and coronavirus deaths surging throughout Michigan, the state’s health department is extending a “pause” on many activities.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the extension on Monday. It was originally planned to expire on Wednesday after three weeks. It will now last through December 20.

What Happened: The original order, issued three weeks ago, halted indoor dining at bars and restaurants, moved all high school and college classes in the state online, closed bowling alleys, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues, and limited social gatherings to two households.

In explaining the extension, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon said recent COVID-19 stats did not indicate a reprieve from the virus.

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“One thing we’ve learned is that progress against COVID is hard to earn and easy to lose. We need to reopen cautiously, not recklessly,” he said during a press conference on Monday.

Whitmer also called on Michiganders to be cautious over the holidays, and to limit Christmas and New Year’s Eve gatherings to single households.

The Data: Gordon said MDHHS will be monitoring three pieces of information while assessing whether to reopen the state: the number of new coronavirus infections each day, hospitalization levels, and positivity rates.

New infection numbers have soared in recent weeks, increasing by 100,000 in just the past 15 days.

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Hospitalization levels and positivity rates have also increased dramatically, though both have begun to subside in the past week. As of Monday, the state’s hospitalization number has been dropping for a week straight and the positivity rate has stabilized at an average of 13.8%.

Reactions: The reaction to the announced extension of COVID-19 restrictions was met with predictable disapproval from industry groups.

Justin Winslow from the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association said he was “exceptionally disappointed” in the announced extension.

“We firmly believe there is a better approach – one followed by 45 other states – that doesn’t use blunt force closure of a single industry to resolve a shared crisis,” he said.

You can read more on Bridge Michigan.

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