Whitmer's stay-at-home order expected, embraced by many Metro Detroiters

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Warren — Randy Alexander loaded his vehicle Monday with ears of corn, pop and detergent among other grocery items, mindful but not shocked by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "stay home" order to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The 45-year-old Sterling Heights resident plans to be hunkered down with his wife and diabetic son and stay off the streets unless his skilled tradesman work is needed.

"Knew it was coming, seen it was coming, hope it doesn't get worse," Alexander said of Whitmer's action as he was leaving the Meijer parking lot near 12 Mile and Mound roads. "We've got to stock up on some stuff without being too paranoid, give others a chance.

"We're going to do our part but at the same time not panic. ... Don't be reckless. Err on the side of caution."

Randy Alexander, 45, of Sterling Heights picked up some more items at Meijer in Warren, Mich. on Monday, March 23, 2020.  Alexander, a skilled trades worker, says he is erring on the side of caution but not going overboard.

The reaction by some Metro Detroiters to Whitmer's order was not one of surprise given the rapid spread of the virus that has caused the deaths of 15 individuals in Michigan through Monday and more than 500 nationwide. Her executive order requires Michigan businesses to suspend in-person operations from 12:01 a.m. Tuesday through April 13.

The action prompted many to flood grocery stores, pharmacies and other places on Monday, similar to previous surges in recent weeks given the attention and fear the coranavirus has commanded.

Lynn Cohn, 51, of West Bloomfield Township, did some last-minute shopping to prepare for the changes and comply with the governor's order.

As a real estate agent, Cohn said she expects to be in the office Tuesday. She doesn't know if the virus has "drastically changed my day-to-day work, but I'm being more cautious."

"I do think it's needed," Cohn said of Whitmer's action. "If we do this now, it will end sooner rather than later. The more people that fight against this and don't follow it, the longer it's going to take to resolve it. I feel like it's necessary."

Debra Stone, 63, of Detroit speaks after shopping at Meijer in Warren, Mich., Monday, March 23, 2020.  Stone, a caregiver, says she was already stocked up but picked up a few more things today.

For Natalie Gajewski, the governor's order "is actually maybe a little bit late" because the coronavirus has affected many people already. The state reported Monday more than 1,300 positive confirmed cases. 

Gajewski, 34, said she had already stocked up on groceries days earlier.

"Is it something that I necessarily like? No, but I feel like (to) have a normalcy in life again, like going places, we need to have this to make sure it goes away and we can go on our normal routines," said Gajewski of Sterling Heights, who is an insurance agent. "We all dreaded it and people don't want to be stuck in their homes. Unfortunately, there are people out there that haven't listened to any of the rules of trying to stay away and social distancing."

Gajewski said if done sooner, it would have been quicker for "businesses to go back to being profitable, especially smaller businesses. She and her staff are now all working remotely from home, she said, and had to lay off a part-time employee.

Jen Block, 37, of Mount Clemens, said she is all stocked up with groceries and such and is self quarantining. The yoga, life coach and massage therapy business Block created has already suffered.

"A lot of businesses that I work for didn't want to close because they didn't want the financial hardship," said Block, who runs Zen Jen's Wellness Essentials.

Block said the she's lost all of her income.

"I have no savings. I was not prepared for this. I was not prepared to take on a financial hardship like this, said Block, who added she supports the governor's action.

Kamila Larsen, 45, of Holland, took a different approach.

Larsen said she isn't a believer in sickness and "we can heal our own bodies through our own mindset" and great care. And the coronavirus is no different, she said.

Larsen, who owns an online marketing business, won't be greatly affected by Whitmer's order except she can't go to the gym.

"It's all around a bad idea to create panic in people," she said. "When they start making decisions based on a mandatory stay at home kind of thing," people become anxious.

But Larsen said the executive order presents a Catch 22 situation.

"I don't think Whitmer can make any decision other than what all the other states are already making," the Holland resident said. "So if she stays open and our cases rise, then she's not going to look very good."

The impact of the virus doesn't surprise Debra Stone, 63, of Detroit. The caregiver, who was picking up last-minute groceries to deliver to others, is "just getting enough to last" so she won't have to go out as much.

"I don't think it's going to last three weeks," Stone said. "I think it's going to be longer. The governor's order and the virus. This is not no overnight thing."


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