LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s Safer at Home order into June on Friday.
The order, which now expires on June 12, closes theaters, gyms, casinos and other places of public accommodation at least until that time.
Whitmer also extended the state’s emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic until June 19, which allows the state to qualify for federal funding.
The extension of the emergency declaration and additional executive orders comes the day following a decision from Judge Cynthia Stephens on Thursday in a lawsuit that challenged Whitmer’s constitutional ability to extend an emergency declaration.
Stephens called the claims “meritless.”
“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet,” Whitmer said in a press release. “If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of the virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home.”
Whitmer alluded to a future executive order regarding a short-term, temporary extension of the stay at home order in her press conference on Thursday.
When a reporter asked for Whitmer for clarification, Whitmer said the state was looking at how data surrounding the virus responds to other orders that have been enacted.
“Between when you take an action and know what the result of that action is generally it’s a two-week timeframe,” Whitmer said on Thursday. “We have taken a lot of steps in the last few weeks.
“We’ve got to take a pause and see what it means in terms of what happens with COVID-19 numbers and the potential spread of COVID-19.”
Trump declares places of worship “essential”
President Donald Trump began Friday’s Coronavirus Task Force press briefing by declaring places of worship essential and called upon governors to reopen them “right now.”
If governors do not do so, Trump said he’d “override” them.
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” Trump said. “I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”
The President left the podium without taking questions.
Michigan United Methodist Bishop David Bard said in a press release he urged local churches to continue to seek the latest federal and state public health guidance in determining when to reopen safely.
The release says current Michigan Executive Orders regarding COVID-19 do not include houses of worship but do urge religious groups to follow state public health recommendations through June 12, 2020.
“(The President) rightly identified places of worship as communities that hold society together, and he appropriately identified our deep need for prayer,” Bard wrote in a statement sent to Michigan United Methodist members.
Bard later encouraged members to pay attention to public health guidelines as they consider when and how to reopen church buildings.
By the numbers
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 403 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus on Friday. It also announced 29 deaths.
There were no new cases or deaths announced in the 17-county Traverse City Economic Recovery Region on Friday.
The state is expected to update its tally of recovered COVID-19 patients on Saturday.