‘We owe it to the real heroes’: Whitmer extends Michigan lockdown yet again despite declining COVID-19 cases

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced the fifth extension of her “Safer at Home” executive decree initially implemented as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. The latest shutdown is set to last until at least June 12.

The order mandates that residents of the state remain isolated in their homes as much as possible and restricts their movements in public by keeping many businesses closed.

“Not out of the woods”

Whitmer seemed to acknowledge the situation shows signs of improvement, including a reduction in the number of new cases and related deaths, but she cautioned that the state is “not out of the woods yet.”

Her statement advised continued restrictions in an effort to reduce the chance that the highly contagious virus will flare up again in the near future.

“If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home,” the governor said in a statement. “If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed.”

Whitmer noted that “we finally have more protective equipment like masks,” but signaled the possibility that another outbreak of infections could deplete those resources again.

“We owe it to the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis — our first responders, health care workers and critical workers putting their lives on the line every day — to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of this virus,” she added.

“Both arbitrary and unlawful”

The latest extension came just one day after Whitmer prevailed in court over a Republican state legislator who sued over her use of executive authority. Michigan’s GOP chairwoman blasted the move in a tweet shortly after the announcement.

“Not only is Gretchen Whitmer going around the state legislature with her stay at home orders, now she is going around the people of Michigan by announcing extensions after hours on a holiday weekend,” Laura Cox tweeted. “The only thing she is trying to keep safe is her political career.”

The news also comes as Los Angeles, California, officials received a warning from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the potential illegality of that county’s extended shutdown order.

“Any such approach may be both arbitrary and unlawful,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, who serves in the agency’s civil rights division.

As medical experts remain divided over the best course of action against this pandemic, its economic toll is obvious and staggering. Whitmer cites the admirable goal of keeping her citizens safe, but many Michiganders are demanding the opportunity to resume their lives.

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