LANSING (AP) — Michigan on Friday extended by five weeks a pandemic order that limits business capacity and requires masks in public, even for young children in day care, as the state battles the country’s highest daily coronavirus infection rate.
The measure, which was expected and replaces one that had been due to expire Monday, says that in addition to existing measures, child care facilities and camps must make a “good faith effort” to ensure children ages 2 to 4 wear face coverings starting April 26. That age group was previously exempt.
The revision aligns with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the state health department said.
“We are begging for everyone in the community to do their part. Stay home. Wear a mask. Get a vaccine when you are able. We are barely able to keep our heads above water. We are in crisis. We need our communities’ help.” —Jaime Brown, Michigan Nurses Association
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has resisted tightening restrictions that were in place during two previous COVID-19 surges, including prohibitions on indoor restaurant dining, in-person high school instruction and youth sports. She instead is urging a voluntary pause on the activities and pushing vaccinations and treatments.
The order, signed by Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel, was first issued in the fall following the state Supreme Court’s invalidation of an emergency-powers law the governor had used to write orders.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, described progress in vaccinations but said she was “incredibly concerned about our state’s COVID-19 data. We are still very much fighting this pandemic and seeing concerning trends in new cases and hospitalizations.”
The state’s daily case rate has led the U.S. for weeks. The number of hospitalized adults with confirmed infections hit a record this week. At the end of March, Michigan was among four states where a more transmissible variant, first identified in Britain, accounted for more than half of cases, according to the CDC.
“We are begging for everyone in the community to do their part,” Kalamazoo nurse Jaime Brown, president of the Michigan Nurses Association, said in a statement. “Stay home. Wear a mask. Get a vaccine when you are able. We are barely able to keep our heads above water. We are in crisis. We need our communities’ help.”
At least 43% of residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one dose, including 29% who are fully vaccinated.