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Gov. Whitmer issues 'stay at home' order

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a "stay at home" order during an 11 a.m. press conference Monday as an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, and will remain in place for at least the next three weeks.

"COVID-19 is a global pandemic. It's a novel virus. There's no cure. There's no vaccine. The only tool we have at the moment is to buy some time. Stopping the spread of this virus is really the most important tool that we have right now to keep our communities safe," said Whitmer. "Right now too many people are out and about unecessarily, so we must do more."

Staying at home is crucial "to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed, to allow time for the production of critical test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, and to avoid needless deaths, it is reasonable and necessary to direct residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible," according to the state's coronavirus site.

The order means all nonessential Michigan businesses and operations are instructed to suspend in-person operations. A number of workers, including those in health care and law enforcement, are exempt but urged to practice appropriate social distancing. 

The governor said businesses that do not comply may face fines.

According to the press release, the order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store. 

Restaurants that are providing take-out and delivery services are also allowed to remain operational.

Whitmer and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun emphasized the scale and rapid spread of COVID-19 over the past two weeks. Michigan has seen over 1,000 illnesses and fifteen deaths from the disease, and that number is expected to climb rapidly.

Eight other states, including Ohio and Illinois, have put similar orders in place. 

The details of Whitmer's order are not known, but orders in other states include exemptions for essential purposes, such as grocery shopping, getting medical care, and buying fuel. Going outdoors for exercise or to walk a pet is also allowed.

This is a developing story provided by Michigan Radio.

Emma is currently the online news intern at Michigan Radio. In addition to covering news, she assists with The Environment Report and other programs. Emma is a senior at the University of Michigan majoring in Communication Studies and Screen Arts & Cultures, and plans to pursue radio and digital journalism in the future. When she's not at Michigan Radio, Emma can be found at various coffee shops around Ann Arbor.