MICHIGAN — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday discussed aspects of a plan that would eventually begin to open the state’s economy, but she noted there is still a ways to go.
The plan, called “MI Safe Start,” weighs several factors when considering whether to open a particular workplace, and it builds off many measures already put in place such as social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment in workplaces.
“When I asked Michigan residents to stay home, to stay safe, you listened,” Whitmer said. “You did the right thing, and I know it has not been easy. I know that many people have lost work. I know that many people are worried about paying their bills, taking care of their families, just getting the rent taken care of.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but we are seeing signs that give us reason to be feeling optimistic,” Whitmer added.
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Debate over when to reopen the state economy has been taking place for weeks, as Whitmer has continued to say opening too soon would be detrimental.
The governor said the state has monitored trends relating to new cases of the coronavirus and that those trends have been promising as of late. Whitmer said Monday that without social distancing, projections showed Michigan would have more than 220,000 people requiring hospitalization as of today. Thanks to social distancing, she said, about 3,000 people are currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus.
On Monday, the state reported fewer than 600 new cases for the third straight day, something that had not been done since March.
Whitmer has been collaborating with governors in surrounding states to determine how to safely reopen economic in the Midwest. Ohio announced Monday that it will reopen its economy Friday. Such a time frame does not seem likely for Michigan, Whitmer said, because the state is facing an entirely different set of circumstances.
MI Safe Start
According to Whitmer, the state will direct businesses to adopt a new array of workforce safety practices that have been recommended by industry and public health experts.
Workplaces will be given risk scores that will play a part in determining when they can reopen in the MI Safe Start plan.
Businesses also will be required to closely monitor their employees and potential symptoms, and implement an array of social distancing techniques. Some businesses will be required to strengthen their sanitation and hygiene protocols while also providing recommended personal protective equipment.
Under an executive order signed earlier in April, employers will continue to be barred from retaliating against employees who stay home because they think they are sick or believe someone in their household is sick.
Geography will also be taken into account when determining if a workplace should be reopened, with officials detailing eight sectors throughout the state.
Officials in a news conference Monday said the construction industry may be one of the first to reopen. No firm timeline was given for the economy as a whole, however.
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