Michigan Governor Whitmer Says Stay at Home Order 'Absolutely Necessary' as State Faces 'Disproportionate Threat'

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer defended her stay at home order amid criticism on Sunday, telling a local TV station that it was "absolutely necessary" given the "disproportionate threat" of COVID-19 infections in the state.

Speaking to WXYZ 7 Action News in Detroit, Whitmer said Michigan faced a "unique problem" being the tenth largest state in the country while having the third highest number of confirmed coronavirus deaths.

The Democratic governor also said she wanted to avoid having to issue a second stay at home order "at all costs" once the first order is lifted.

Appearing on 7 Action News, Gov. Whitmer said: "I think the order was absolutely necessary... having the third most deaths in the country when we are the tenth largest state shows we've got a unique problem in Michigan.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stands on stage at an event on January 27, 2020 in Hamtramck, Michigan. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

"We have to have unique solutions, and they've got to be driven by the best science and what's in the best interest of the health of the people. It won't do any good if we don't take this seriously and just jump right back into life as it was and have another stay at home order later in the year."

Whitmer added that she was trying to avoid that outcome "at all costs," and said there was "no one" more interested in getting the economy back up-and-running than her.

"But the fact of the matter is, it's really critical that we do it in a smart way so that it's safe for the workers and the customers alike," she added.

Asked for her reaction to President Donald Trump's criticism of some of her social distancing measures, Gov. Whitmer said: "It's fine. I think part of the issue that we're confronting as a state though is that we have a unique challenge."

“As tough as this moment is, it would be devastating to have a second wave” - @GovWhitmer this morning to @jaketapper when asked if she regrets anything with the way the executive order rules were rolled out.pic.twitter.com/GN4JRaG3W1

— Brian Abel (@BrianAbelTV) April 19, 2020

After noting the number of cases in the state, she added: "We have a disproportionate threat here in Michigan, and it calls for stronger policies than any other state in the nation because we've got a tougher problem to solve."

Whitmer went on to recognize that sacrifices being made were "tough" for both individuals and small businesses amid the pandemic.

"I also know that if we don't take these aggressive actions, COVID-19 threatens our whole healthcare system," the governor said. "It threatens to take away more lives. It makes it harder for us to rebound from this economically."

Gov. Whitmer's stay at home order has faced backlash from some local residents who feel its restrictions go too far.

Following rules set out in other stay at home orders, Whitmer closed non-essential businesses to curb the spread of COVID-19. But her order has also gone further than others by blocking people from traveling from one of their homes to another they own, and telling advertisers to stop marketing goods that aren't groceries or other essential items.

Businesses permitted to stay open have also been told to close some parts of their stores offering non-essential goods.

Gov. Whitmer told ABC's Good Morning America on Friday last week that she hoped to loosen up her stay at home order restrictions at the start of May, but cautioned that it was unknown what situation would be facing the state at that time.

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, Wayne County in Michigan has the county with the third most confirmed novel coronavirus cases.

More than 759,000 infections have been recorded nationwide at the time of writing, along with 40,683 related deaths and 70,980 cases of total recovery.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States as of 6 a.m. EST.

This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the U.S. as of April 20. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.