Report: Concerned about COVID-19 spike, Whitmer hits pause on loosening restrictions


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has scrubbed plans to reopen Detroit casinos this week in part because of new concerns that parts of the state may be on the verge of a spike of COVID-19 cases.  

Asked by WLNS Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick whether Michigan is on the verge of a spike, Whitmer replied, “I’m concerned.”

The governor had been hoping to move the entire state into phase 5 — “containing” — of the six-phase reopening plan this week, which would have let Detroit casinos resume gaming. Northern Michigan is already in that phase, but the rest of the state remains in phase 4, “improving.”

“My hope was to do it this week,” the governor explained. “We’re not in a position to do that yet. We’ve got to get more data.”

That’s because information she saw Tuesday worried her.

“We had a data call today and I saw reports right here out of Ingham County that there were 12 or 14 cases of COVID-19, all of whom were participants to have been at an establishment in East Lansing,” Whitmer said. “It was featured on Twitter for having big crowds.”

The venue was Harper’s Restaurant, a popular Michigan State University student hangout where social distancing was not the order of the day.

There have been other surges in Midland and Traverse City. The governor says some are letting their guard down, which she argues could squander all the progress the state has made in flattening the virus curve.

“People are looking at us, wanting to be like us, yet people are dropping their guard,” said the governor. “The majority continue doing the right thing but my concern is that if people drop their guard, we’ll see outbreaks of COVID-19.”

When asked if she would have to put more restrictions back into place, Whitmer replied, “It’s very possible.”

“Numbers in most areas are good but in other areas, we’re watching because we are concerned,” she continued.

On a scale of one to 10, she put her concern at an eight. That’s not where she wants to be.



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