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Whitmer: Stay-at-home order will likely be extended for the "near future"

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

In a Wednesday briefing, Governor Whitmer said there will likely be a short-term extension of the stay-at-home order in Michigan.

“There will be some kind of a stay at home order in effect for a long-time here. And I know when I say that, people will speculate ‘What does that mean?’ And what it simply means is that for the near future we know that it’s not going to be safe for especially the vulnerable population to be out and about publicly.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s top doctor, says the state will need to run many more tests each day before it begins to evaluate how to re-open.

“So we think based on talking to experts across the country. That we need to be able to get to at least about 15,000 tests in the state to be able to really get an understanding of who has the disease so we can guide our public health response.”

Earlier in the week, health officials said the state was only processing up to six thousand tests a day because of a lack of crucial re-agents and swabs.

joneigh khaldun at a press conference
Credit michigan.gov

The state has expanded its standards for who can be tested, so mildly symptomatic people and essential workers without symptoms should now be able to get tests.

Last week, frustrations with the Governor’s stay-at-home order drew several thousand people to protest at the capitol. The Governor did not specify how long she expects the extension to go on, or if the extension would affect the whole state.

Whitmer said she would reveal more on Friday.

In the same briefing, Whitmer also said state employees who are subject to temporary layoffs will be automatically enrolled in the state’s unemployment system, but they won't get ahead of regular people applying for unemployment benefits.

“It doesn’t mean that they jumped the queue," she said. "It just means that, they won’t have to go out of their way to sign up. We’re asking a sacrifice of our state employees so we wanted to take that off of their plate as a stressor as they try to navigate next steps.”

The state announced nearly 3,000 of the states’ forty-eight thousand workers will be temporarily laid off to save the state money.

Layoffs are expected to save the state $5 million. As of Wednesday, more than a quarter of the state’s workers have applied for unemployment benefits.

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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