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Whitmer order tightens stay-home edict, restricts those who have been exposed

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday strengthened the stay-at-home order she issued two weeks ago, ordering anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive coronavirus test to stay home regardless of whether they’re considered essential. 

The order protects those individuals or others exposed through family members from retaliation by employers, including discipline or discharge. 

“Staying home and staying safe is one of the most important things we can do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, and this executive order will ensure more people can do so without facing discrimination from their workplace,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

The guidance came as state officials reiterated warnings that even individuals who were asymptomatic could be spreading the virus without knowing it.  

The state on Friday reported Micihgan has accumulated nearly 12,800 cases and 479 deaths.

The order requires people — regardless of whether they are deemed essential — to stay home for three days after their symptoms end or seven days after their symptoms appear or they were swabbed for a positive case. 

The edict also requires close contacts of a symptomatic individual to remain in their homes for 14 days or until they test negative for the virus. 

The 14-day provision does not apply to health care workers, first responders, child care providers or correction officers.  

“It’s crucial that anyone experiencing symptoms, and those they live with, stay home and stay safe,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a statement. 

The overall order retains exemptions for people who need to leave home for food, medicine or outdoor activity, but encourages them to use a homemade mask, bandanna or scarf. 

The order tightening the stay-at-home restrictions comes about 14 hours after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday night issued emergency orders implementing a $1,000 civil fine for violations of the order and a warning that state licensees violating the order could face sanctions.

The civil fine is in additional to a $500 criminal fine and jail time that violators could face if charged with a misdemeanor. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com