Democrat Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer called on high school and youth sports to voluntarily suspend in-person activities for two weeks and requested people stop dining at restaurants in an effort to stifle the spread of the coronavirus.
The Associated Press reported on Friday that Whitmer “stopped short of ordering restrictions” such as another stay-home order. A statewide mask mandate remains in effect, along with other mitigation measures such as reduced capacity at some establishments and limitations on the size of gatherings across the state.
“We have to do this together. Lives depend on it,” Whitmer said at a news conference. “We’re going to have some tough weeks ahead. So I’m asking everyone — please, take this seriously.”
Whitmer said “it is less of a policy problem that we have and more of a compliance and variant issue that we are confronting as a state,” blaming the rising numbers of COVID-19 to those who have willingly let their guard down.
“This is a team effort. It’s on all of us to do our part by masking up and getting vaccinated to protect ourselves and our families, so we can get back to normal. Let’s get it done.”
The AP reported Thursday: “Michigan had the worst rate of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. over the previous two weeks,” adding, “related hospitalizations had more than quadrupled in a month and were 90 percent of the statewide peak from a year ago.” On Friday, Michigan recorded another 26 deaths of individuals who had been infected with the contagion.
The Midwestern state apparently found that the culprit in the outbreak was youth sports.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun—the state’s chief medical executive—stated that “our public health system is overwhelmed.”
“As a parent and former student-athlete myself, I understand how important athletics are to our children’s physical and mental health,” said Khaldun. “However, parents and athletes need to understand the risk involved with youth sports if they choose to participate.”
“We’ve seen that the younger population has played a significant role in transmission during this most recent spike,” she continued. “I urge youth sports organizers to pause in-person activities for the next couple of weeks, and as always, mask up, wash your hands, social distance and get your safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are able.”
ABC 12 News in Flint reported that Michigan averaged more than 6,200 new Covid-19 cases a day for most of this week, while coronavirus patients occupy more than 15 percent of hospital beds across the state.
The AP continued: “Whitmer’s recommendation to temporarily close high schools received mixed reaction in education circles.”
The outlet reported:
The Michigan Education Association, the state’s biggest teachers union, encouraged similar action for lower grades, community colleges and universities. But the Great Lakes Education Project, a group with ties to the DeVos family, said kids deserve “safely open classrooms.” Superintendents also appeared frustrated…
An industry group for restaurants, which are open at 50 percent capacity, called the governor’s recommendation “misguided.”
Republican lawmakers, who have made efforts to push back against these restrictions, said they were encouraged that Whitmer did not tighten them. Despite the uptick in cases, House Speaker Jason Wentworth said Whitmer should remove remaining restrictions and “trust the people of this state to do the right thing for themselves and their families.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association said that it would finish the boys and girls state basketball tournaments Friday and Saturday. The organization continued by suggesting that spring sports are all outdoors and the spring season has the lowest amount of contact sports.