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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Protests Erupt Again As Michigan Governor Extends Orders to May 28

Protests Erupt Again As Michigan Governor Extends Orders to May 28

 

 

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended a state of emergency declaration until May 28, over the objections of some state lawmakers.  Whitmer signed a series of executive orders hours before the state of emergency was set to expire on April 30 and extended it to May 28, citing the growing number of cases and deaths in the state from the disease. The governor said that in some counties in western and northern Michigan, cases are doubling every six days or faster.

When the order was extended, the state had 41,379 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,789 deaths, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Wayne County, Michigan, is the fourth-highest county of deaths in the nation with 1,782 coronavirus-related fatalities, according to the data.

Whitmer has faced fierce backlash for her strict stay-at-home mandate.  She extended the order earlier this month until May 15 but eased some restrictions on public activities as the state’s coronavirus cases stabilize.  Whitmer said that while she understands that people are anxious to get back to work and are restless, Thursday’s protests were “disturbing. … Swastikas and the confederate flag, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders.  There is nothing that I want more than to just flip the switch and return to normal, but that’s not how it’s going to work, unfortunately. The only way we can get through this and take the next steps forward is if we all continue to do our part.”

Hundreds of people protested outside the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing-defying social distancing rules, many of them armed with assault rifles and wearing tactical gear.  The crowd packed into the Capitol rotunda and tried to storm onto the floor of the legislative chamber.  Protesters held signs, waved American flags and even carried firearms, while some chanted “Let us in!” and “This is the people’s house, you cannot lock us out.” Others tried to get onto the House floor but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms.

The House and Senate had voted to approve legislation that would allow them to sue Whitmer over her emergency declarations as armed protesters stormed the state capitol.  They also voted on another bill that would extend some of her emergency measures, but crucially not the stay-at-home order. Their bill would also allow restaurants, bars and gyms to reopen. Whitmer vowed to veto the bill.  Amid the chaos Democrat Senator Sylvia Santana was pictured wearing a bulletproof vest and surgical mask while at her desk, as a colleague tweeted an image of rifle-wielding men on a balcony above her.

The governor is claiming authority to rule by executive order under two pieces of legislation – the 1976 Emergency Management Act and a similar 1945 law that allows a governor to declare a state of emergency and assume emergency powers.  Arguments center around the fact that the 1976 law says governors must go to the Legislature if they want to extend the state of emergency past 28 days. The 1945 act says governors decide when the emergency is over.

Whitmer’s extended order bans gyms, theaters, bars and casinos from opening, and limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders only.  Restaurants can allow up to five people inside at a time to pick up orders, but only if they follow social distancing guidelines by staying six feet apart.  The restrictions do not apply to office buildings, grocery stores, markets, food pantries, pharmacies, drug stores, medical equipment/supplies providers, health care facilities, residential care facilities, juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, or industrial and manufacturing sites.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Protest of Stay At Home Orders

Michigan Protest of Stay At Home Orders

 

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Several thousand cars flooded the streets around the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. to protest the governor’s extended stay-at-home order.  Operation Gridlock, as the protest was named, was conceived as a drive-in protest that would block Lansing streets. Organizers said they support some coronavirus restrictions around social distancing, but believed Whitmer has gone too far. As such, they say they planned a protest that would still maintain social distancing guidelines — without contributing to the spread of infection.

At least 200 people broke from the instructions of organizers, getting out of their vehicles to congregate around the steps of the Capitol building, flouting social-distancing guidelines to remain 6 feet apart, and not wearing masks.  Many mask-less protesters, some of whom flew Confederate flags and open-carried AR-15 and AK-47 variants, gathered to demand an end to outbreak-reduction efforts and a premature return to normalcy.

The state of Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases, 32,000 and over 2,400 deaths.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has faced a steady drumbeat of criticism for issuing one of the most stringent stay-at-home orders.  Among other things, it bars landscapers from working and shutters many greenhouses and nurseries.  She extended her original order last week to now end April 30th.  The new version of the order banned travel between homes.   As of Monday, more than a quarter of the state’s workforce had filed for unemployment benefits.  Southeast Michigan and Detroit remain a hot spot — claiming the lion’s share of COVID-19 cases and deaths.  Detroit has more than 7,700 positive cases.

Over the past 10 days, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped 6.7%, to 3,374. During the same period, the number of patients on a ventilator decreased from 1,441 to 1,102, a 24% decline, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical officer, attributed the progress to the governor’s March 24 stay-at-home order that was previously extended to April 13.

Whitmer is expected to extend her stay-at-home order, which expires at the end of the month, until there is a larger testing capacity and a significant decline in the number of new cases and deaths.  Although the numbers are declining, dozens of people are still dying each day.  Some counties that have been hard hit are seeing a decline in new cases but the number of deaths continue to rise.

 

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