Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a shelter-in-place order for Michigan residents Monday, ordering residents to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic other than for essential services.

The order directs businesses to suspend in-person operations that are not “necessary to sustain or protect life.”

Grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and restaurants with takeout or delivery options are among the businesses allowed to remain open under the order.

Residents are still allowed to leave their home under the order if they work for an essential service, if they are participating in an outdoor activity or if they are performing tasks necessary to their health and safety, like going to the hospital or grocery store.

All public and private gatherings of any number of people are also prohibited under the order.

The order goes into effect at midnight Tuesday and lasts three weeks.

“COVID-19 is a global pandemic. It’s a novel virus. There’s no cure, there’s no vaccine. The only tool that we have to fight it at the moment and to support our health care system is to give them the opportunity by buying some time,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer said projections show that, on the state’s current trajectory, 70 percent of Michigan’s population – or about 7 million people – could become infected with COVID-19, with around a million of those infected needing to go to the hospital. Whitmer says that would overwhelm the healthcare system.

“Let me give you a little perspective here. We have about 25,000 acute care beds in Michigan,” Whitmer said. “Think about that. That’s where we are headed currently. So stopping the spread of this virus is really the most important tool that we have right now to keep our communities safe.”

Whitmer said the current trajectory looks “a lot like Italy” and that “if you’ve seen any of the coverage about what’s happening in Italy, what it means for their economy, but most importantly what it means for the lives of the Italian people, you know we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep that from happening here.”

“If we all do our part and simply stay home, we have a shot at helping our healthcare system meet our needs,” Whitmer continued. “Because this disease can’t spread person to person if we’re not out there.”

Whitmer criticized the federal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the state only received enough medical supplies, like face masks and gloves, to cover one shift at hospitals.

“Our problem has been exacerbated because we’re still not getting what we need from the federal government. Last week, the president’s national message to our nation’s governors was essentially that we’re on our own to handle getting supplies,” Whitmer said. “While I can’t do overnight what the federal government should have done over the course of months in planning, my team and I are working 24/7 to secure the things we need.”

Whitmer said she signed the order because people were ignoring health officials’ previous warnings.

“What we know is that there’s still gatherings happening. There’s still people that are out and about conducting their lives as though we are not living in the midst of a global epidemic,” Whitmer said. “That’s why we’ve got to be really clear about the seriousness of this and put the full weight of an executive order behind it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) supported the move in a statement.

“Michigan has moved into a new phase in our battle against COVID-19. It is a step none of us wanted to see happen, but one that is necessary,” Shirkey said. “Our response to these orders could be the determining factor in how long the virus impacts our state.”

The first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan were confirmed on March 10. Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Michigan the same day and has since issued executive orders to close schools and restaurants and to limit the size of gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The number of confirmed cases in the state reached 1,232 on Monday, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and 15 people in Michigan have died from the virus.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...

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