Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Thursday expanded her stay-at-home order to include no travel between two residences during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Starting Saturday until May 1, Michiganders are barred from traveling to other people's homes unless they're caring for a relative, elderly person or pet, visiting a nursing home or assisted living facility, attending a funeral with less than 10 people or complying with a court order involving child custody, the Grand Haven Tribune reported.
“All public and private gatherings of any size are prohibited," Whitmer said at a news conference. "People can still leave the house for outdoor activities," and outdoor "recreational activities are still permitted as long as they’re taking place outside of six feet from anyone else.”
During holidays, like Easter, people from Detroit typically travel to the northern part of the state, where they have cottages or other family members. Whitmer decided to expand her stay-at-home order as means of protecting northern Michigan from the Wuhan coronavirus. As it currently stands, the state's epicenter is in Detroit.
Cities in northern Michigan pushed for the decision after citing concerns over a lack of medical resources, WILX-TV reported.
"Our hospitals are ill-equipped to handle a surge," southeastern Clare County resident Terressa Carson told the Grand Haven Tribune.
Charlevoix Mayor Luther Kurtz, Elk Rapids Village President James Janisse and Glen Arbor Township Supervisor Peter Van Nort previously wrote a letter to Whitmer encouraging her to make such a declaration after seeing an influx of people from the Detroit metro area in their communities.
"They don't immediately quarantine themselves, they come here they've got nothing so the first thing they do is go to the grocery store, not quarantine themselves," Van Nort told UpNorthLive.
Kurtz said he's heard concerns from nearby hospital workers who are worried about the potential spread of the Wuhan coronavirus making its way from Detroit.
"I have heard from them that we don't have the capacity to handle the full summer load of people coming here when it comes to this coronavirus COVID 19 so they're really concerned that more people are coming and that more people may be infected," Kurtz said.
Michigan currently has 22,738 cases of the virus, along with 1,281 deaths. Those who violate Whitmer's executive order face a $1,000 fine.