No changes to UP coronavirus restrictions, but Whitmer looks for increased facemask compliance

Despite an increasing rate of new cases, Upper Michigan remains in Phase 5 of the governor's reopening plan
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 5:07 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not tighten any coronavirus restrictions in Michigan Thursday, but said her administration is considering whether it can take another step to strengthen facemask compliance.

The governor started her Thursday morning press conference by condemning large gatherings, like the ones on Michigan beaches over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Whitmer said those kind of events are where the coronavirus easily spreads, and being a young adult doesn’t protect you from the virus.

Whitmer urged everyone to take the facemask requirement to heart.

“Right now the law requires that anyone in an enclosed public space has to wear a mask, and that means every store you’re going into,” Whitmer said. “We are reviewing that requirement and considering whether or not we need to take this a step further to strengthen compliance.”

The governor went onto the say that the state does have the authority to issue fines or misdemeanor arrests for not wearing a mask, but that she does not want to take that step.

More details on the next steps could be revealed Friday or next week.

The state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, pointed out Upper Michigan’s testing positivity rate is rising. Despite the increased cases since the start of July, Upper Michigan remains in Phase 5 of the state’s reopening plan.

“Cases are rising, but there’s still time for us to keep this curve down and not see the resurgence that we’re seeing in so many other parts of the country,” Khaldun said.

She reminded everyone to wear masks, stay physically distanced, wash your hands frequently and get tested if you show symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus.

The governor also noting that a return to school in the fall is at risk if the current rise in COVID-19 cases continue.

Whitmer said that returning to previous phases of the MI Safe Start Plan is a possibility.

“We are watching the trends and right now the trend of where we are heading is concerning,” she said. “I have not announced a step back today (and) I am certainly not announcing a step forward today. If we want to be in a position eight weeks from now where we can get our kids back into in-person education, this trend can’t continue.”

She also reiterated that all schools must have plans for phase 3, 4 and 5. Noting a return to phase 3, would force schools to return to online learning.

Click here to learn about coronavirus testing opportunities.

Click here to learn more about the new implicit bias training requirement for medical professionals the governor announced Thursday.

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