Whitmer signs executive order extending Michigan state of emergency to end of May

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced Thursday that she is extending her state’s emergency and disaster declaration that was set to expire on Friday until May 28. 

“COVID-19 is an enemy that has taken the lives of more Michiganders than we lost during the Vietnam War,” Whitmer said in a statement.

“While some members of the legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods yet," she added.

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Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled state legislature have said they are planning to sue Whitmer over her exercise of state emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Detroit Free Press. The legislature failed to approve Whitmer’s order to extend the declaration, leading her to pass it via an executive order. 

The emergency declaration gives the governor certain powers pertaining to emergency orders, such as the stay-at-home order she issued last month. 

“By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk,” Whitmer said.

On Thursday, protesters swarmed the state capitol — some carrying rifles on their shoulders — demanding an end to the state of emergency. Earlier this month, Whitmer faced protests for her stay-at-home order, organized by mostly conservative organizations. 

Whitmer called the protest a “political rally” that could lead to more infections, and subsequently a longer stay-at-home order.

As of Thursday evening there are 41,379 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state, and 3,789 deaths from the disease. That’s fourfold and tenfold increases, respectively, since the start of April, according to the governor. 

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And while the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the physical health of Michigan residents, the governor also noted the economic effect that the virus has had on the state. 

In a one-month period, 1.2 million people in the state have filed unemployment claims, accounting for nearly a fourth of the state’s workforce. 

“As a result, many families in Michigan will struggle to pay their bills or even put food on the table,” Whitmer said.