State News

'New danger:' Michigan Gov. Whitmer tells why 'now is a precarious moment'

September 18, 2020, 3:40 PM

After six months of "fighting an enemy like no other," Gretchen Whitmer reflects on long-haul Covid challenges ahead.

"We live in an extraordinary moment," Michigan's governor writes in a Detroit Free Press guest column.

I’m sobered this challenge. Every executive order weighs heavily on me.

Like everyone, I want this emergency to end. But I will continue to do everything in my power to save lives.

And if I ever start to waver, I remember the recent memorial service at Belle Isle, where hundreds of poster-size photos honored the more than 1,500 Detroiters who have died. Not only does our enemy kill, but it disproportionately harms our seniors and people of color.

Gretchen Whitmer: "We’ve fought this enemy together, and together we will win." (At right: Dr. Joneigh S.Khaldun, chief medical executive) [Photo: State of Michigan]

At its core, her essay is a trust-me pitch about why executive orders limiting commercial and social activity are needed -- orders challenged by "Unlock Michigan" activists.

The measures I’ve put in place largely rest on emergency powers the Michigan Legislature gave the governor, including a law in place since 1945. This special authority is not surprising. . . .

Emergencies require swift and decisive action. The first Stay Home, Stay Safe order in late March, or the order closing indoor bar service in early July after the Harper’s outbreak in East Lansing — at the time, the largest outbreak in the nation — are two examples. There’s no question swift action remains critical to saving lives. A Columbia University study, for example, showed that if actions taken on March 15 across the nation had been in place one week earlier, nearly 36,000 people would still be alive. ...

We must stay the course. Michigan’s top health officials and the national experts I consult are united: now is a precarious moment and Michigan must maintain its response. Increased contacts resulting from the return to school and businesses coming back online, the shift indoors, and especially the onset of flu season, pose new danger.

She suggests that "it's a matter of months" until emergency restrictions lift -- a phrase that could apply to January (four months), spring (six months) or perhaps longer.

-- Alan Stamm

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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