LANSING, MI (Great Lakes News) – Rumors are swirling online and in state government offices that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will shut down the state after the 4th of July holiday because of the rise in coronavirus cases.
National deaths have fallen to levels last seen in mid-March when shutdowns first went into place. As of June 29, 2020, Michigan coronavirus deaths totaled 6,161. With a state population of roughly 10 million people, that’s 0.06 percent of the population.
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Gov. Whitmer has faced increased backlash over her decision to put COVID-19 positive patients back in their nursing homes with patients who did not have COVID-19. Critics have wondered why Whitmer did not place sick patients in the various field hospitals set up across the state.
The so-called COVID-19 outbreak at Harper’s Bar in East Lansing could be one of the reasons for the upcoming rumored shutdown, but no one there had anything beyond mild symptoms and at least a dozen people did not have symptoms at all.
The looming second shut down is tied to confusion over two existing laws on the state books. The Michigan 1945 Emergency Powers Act grants unlimited emergency powers to the governor, while the Emergency Act of 1976 provides the governor with broader powers only with approval of the legislature.
When asked about a potential second shutdown, an aide for Gov. Whitmer said, “I am unable to confirm that.”
Regardless, many have argued these arbitrary extensions cannot continue. One state representative told Great Lakes News, “A credible effort to repeal the emergency law which allows indefinite orders on [Whitmer’s] part is about to launch.” He’s referring to a petition drive to repeal those emergency powers used by Whitmer. The 500,000 signatures needed after petition language is approved means future emergencies would default to the 28-day maximum.
“This would not be a ballot question but would go to the legislature for simple majority approval by both houses,” the source told Great Lakes News.
State Rep. Michelle Hoitinga, who represents people in Wexford, Mecosta, and parts of Osceola Counties said, “I have not heard the rumors of another shutdown but it would not shock me. [Gov. Whitmer] does not work with the legislature when making these decisions, so we find out with the rest of the public.”
Rep. Hoitinga also added, “I don’t think citizens will be easily persuaded whatsoever to comply with another shutdown.”