Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Expanded emergency and disaster declaration
On March 10, 2020, I issued Executive Order 2020-4, which declared a state of emergency in Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This new disease, caused by a novel coronavirus not previously identified in humans, can easily spread from person to person and can result in serious illness or death. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment.
Scarcely three weeks later, the virus has spread across Michigan. To date, the state has 9,334 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 337 people have died of the disease. Many thousands more are infected but have not been tested. Hospitals in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties are reporting that they are full or nearly full to capacity. Ventilators and personal protective equipment are in short supply and high demand. Michigan needs more medical personnel than are currently available to care for COVID-19 patients. Dormitories and a convention center are being converted to temporary field hospitals.
The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is for people to stay home and keep their distance from others. To that end, and pursuant to the recommendations of public health experts, I have restricted access to places of public accommodation and school buildings in Executive Orders 2020-20 and 2020-11, respectively. And in Executive Order 2020-21, I have limited gatherings and travel, and have required all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to remain at home.
Social distancing, though necessary to combat COVID-19, has harsh economic consequences. Almost overnight, businesses and government agencies have had to dramatically adjust how they work. Where working from home is not possible, businesses have closed or significantly restricted their normal operations. Michiganders are losing their jobs in record numbers: over the past two weeks alone, nearly a half-million of them submitted claims for unemployment insurance. That is more claims than were filed in the entirety of the prior calendar year.
The economic damage—already severe—will compound with time. On March 19, 2020, economists at the University of Michigan forecasted that as many as 1 in 10 Michiganders could be unemployed by the fall and that economic sectors that feature substantial social interaction could contract by as much as 50%. As a result, many families in Michigan will struggle to pay their bills or even put food on the table.
My administration has already taken aggressive measures to mitigate the economic harms of this pandemic. In Executive Order 2020-18, we placed strict rules on businesses to prevent price gouging. In Executive Order 2020-19, we put a temporary hold on evictions for families that cannot make their rent. And in Executive Order 2020-24, we expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and will continue to disrupt our economy, our homes, and our educational, civic, social, and religious institutions. School closures have made it harder to educate our children and have increased strain on parents, many of whom continue to work from home. The closure of museums and theaters will limit people’s ability to enrich themselves through the arts. And curtailing gatherings has left many seeking new ways to connect with their community during these challenging times.
The health, economic, and social harms of the COVID-19 pandemic are widespread and severe, and they demand we do more.
Section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 vests the executive power of the State of Michigan in the governor.
The Emergency Management Act, 1976 PA 390, as amended, MCL 30.403(3)-(4), provides that “[t]he governor shall, by executive order or proclamation, declare a state of emergency” and/or a “state of disaster” upon finding that an emergency and/or disaster has occurred or is threatening to occur.
The Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, 1945 PA 302, as amended, MCL 10.31(1), provides that “[d]uring times of great public crisis, disaster, rioting, catastrophe, or similar public emergency within the state . . . the governor may proclaim a state of emergency and designate the area involved.”
Acting under the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and Michigan law, I order the following:
Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the State of Michigan.