Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stopped short of ordering Michiganians to shelter in place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As of late Friday, three other states — California, New York and Illinois — had issued such orders, which virtually lock their residents in their homes and shutter all but medical facilities and the most essential businesses.

The governor said conditions in Michigan do not yet merit such a drastic next step.

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It’s the right call. But as Whitmer noted, she may have to issue the order at some point if the spread of the virus continues to escalate.

That would increase the already onerous burden on citizens and businesses in the state.

The only way to avoid it is for Michigan residents to as much as possible behave as if the order has already been given.

Stay at home. If you are able to work from home, do so. Buy the groceries you need for a week or more ahead rather than run to the store every day or two.

Avoid unnecessary travel and social gatherings. Use technology to stay connected with friends and loved ones. Do make sure to check in on the elderly and other vulnerable individuals regularly by phone. 

The only effective defense against the virus is to deny it the opportunity to spread.

The more discipline we exhibit as a state, the faster we will turn back this threat and return to normal lives.

No one wants to see the current conditions continue for months. Our economy will not withstand that.

So be good neighbors and citizens. 

By not issuing a shelter in place order, residents can still patronize local restaurants for take-out orders. Do that as often as possible to help these at-risk businesses stay afloat, but exercise caution.

Don’t expose those workers who are filling the take-out orders to danger by patronizing their restaurants if you are sick — whether or not you believe you have the coronavirus.

As always, use common sense. Wash your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Never shake hands. Stay six feet apart from others when you are in public. 

This is the time to come together to stay apart. 

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