Michigan legislature voted on Tuesday to approve an extension of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers through the end of April.
The governor originally asked for a 70-day extension of emergency powers, but Michigan legislators said they felt that was too much.
“I agree that there needs to be an extension; we’re far from being out of the woods on this issue. But I believe 70 days looks too far forward considering the information we have now and how quickly that changes,” said Sen. Rick Outman (R-33-Six Lakes) in a statement. “The best thing to do for the immediate future is continue following suggested protocols and stay at home to keep you, your family and your community safe.”
Expanding an emergency order beyond the initial 28-day period requires approval from the Michigan legislature, Outman said. The House and the Senate approved a 23-day expansion, which will last until April 30.
“The Legislature shares a common goal with the governor – stopping the spread of coronavirus and helping Michigan families during this public health crisis,” said Rep. Michael Webber (R-45-Rochester Hills) in a statement. “However, the best option we have to combat COVID-19 is by extending the state of emergency in shorter increments of time to remain flexible and responsive to the serious challenges we have before us. We can reassess the situation in a few weeks and extend the emergency further if data dictates that is necessary.”
Whitmer declared a State of Emergency for Michigan on March 10. On March 22, she closed spaces like gyms, bars and theaters, as well as restricted restaurants to take-out or delivery only. That order was followed just two days later by her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which was originally slated to last three weeks.
The governor declared a State of Disaster for Michigan on April 1, as well as requested the extended emergency powers.
The 23-day extension does not require the governor’s signature to take effect.
Michigan saw its first confirmed cases of the coronavirus on March 12 and its first death on March 18. As of Tuesday, there are almost 19,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The death toll in the state is 845.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photo “Michigan Senate” by Steve & Christine. CC BY 2.0.