Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of disaster Wednesday night and signed an executive order expanding Michigan’s COVID-19 response. 

Whitmer previously declared a state of emergency on March 10 in hopes of helping local governments slow the spread of COVID-19 and persuading Michiganders to take preventative measures. 

In a press release Wednesday, Whitmer said the state of disaster order would allow for a more effective response and hopes it will help reduce the impact of the coronavirus in Michigan. 

“Today’s action will allow my administration to respond more effectively to every facet of this crisis,” Whitmer said. “During this time, it’s crucial that Michiganders continue to stay home and keep their distance from others. We will get through this together.” 

As of Wednesday, Michigan had 7,630 recorded cases of COVID-19 and 264 deaths, as Wayne County has quickly become an epicenter of the disease. Michigan has the fourth most cases of any state, behind New York, New Jersey and California. Washtenaw County had reported 400 cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths.

In the press release, Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy for health and chief medical executive of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, explained she believed the executive order will help protect Michiganders and hopes it will slow the spread of COVID-19. 

“The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan is still climbing, and we must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread,” Khaldun said. “The governor has taken a number of critical steps to protect Michigan families, and this order today will allow that work to continue. I will keep working closely with the governor and our partners across state government to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Whitmer has previously ordered non-essential businesses to close and directed all Michiganders to stay in their homes with few exceptions. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wash their hands often and avoid touching their faces. Anyone who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 should call their primary care physician or reach out to the local health department, which in Washtenaw County can be reached at 734-544-6700.

Daily Staff Reporter Emma Ruberg can be reached at

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