Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
To: State Department Directors and Autonomous Agency Heads
From: Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Date: May 18, 2020
Re: Creation of COVID-19 Office of Worker Safety and Instructions to Departments and Agencies on Worker Safeguards
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. It is caused by a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans and easily spread from person to person. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this disease.
On March 23, 2020, I instructed residents to remain at home or in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible. That approach has worked, and the number of new confirmed cases each day is dropping. Although the virus remains aggressive and persistent—on May 17, 2020, Michigan reported 51,142 confirmed cases and 4,891 deaths—the strain on our health care system has begun to relent, even as our testing capacity has increased.
We have now begun the process of gradually resuming in-person work and activities that were temporarily suspended under my prior orders. In so doing, however, we must move with care, patience, and vigilance, recognizing the grave harm that this virus continues to inflict on our state and how quickly our progress in suppressing it can be undone.
In particular, businesses must do their part to guarantee that the resumption of activities does not contribute to the virus’s spread. Many businesses have already implemented robust infection-control practices to protect their workers, their patrons, and their communities. But we can and must do more: no one should feel unsafe going to work.
Today, I released Executive Order 2020-91 identifying workplace rules for all businesses across the state. In conjunction with that order, and acting under sections 1 and 8 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, I direct the following:
This directive is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice. I extend my sincere appreciation for your assistance in implementing this directive and for the continued hard work of state employees as we respond to this public health emergency.