COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country and in Michigan. On Wednesday, the state reported 610 new cases of the coronavirus, the largest single-day case count since May 20. And every region in Michigan has seen an increase in new cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.
According to a press release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office, research shows that this rise is partly due to inconsistent compliance of the governor’s requirement that all individuals wear face masks in indoor public spaces.
In response, Whitmer signed an executive order today that not only reiterates her previous face-covering orders but also requires that individuals wear a face covering in crowded outdoor spaces. And — with some exceptions — businesses must deny entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face mask. The order takes effect on July 13, and a willful violation of it is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty.
“Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent,” Whitmer says. “By wearing masks, we can save lives and protect our family, friends, and neighbors from the spread of COVID-19. And by wearing masks now, we can put our state in a stronger position so our kids can return to school safely in the fall. For the sake of your loved ones, let’s all mask up, Michigan.”
Under the order, businesses must post signs at all entrances to instruct customers to wear a face mask. Those who are younger than 5 years old, cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons, or are eating and drinking while seated at a dining establishment are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses. Additionally, while the CDC encourages people to wear face coverings during religious services, individuals will not be subject to a penalty for removing a mask while at a house of religious worship.
Similar orders have already been implemented in Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington, and research backs up the need for more Americans to wear face coverings. A Goldman Sachs study found that a federal mask mandate could save the U.S. economy from taking a 5 percent hit to our GDP. And a model from the University of Washington shows that if 95 percent of the population wore a mask in public than we could save 40,000 lives nationwide.
“Wearing a mask or face covering can significantly decrease the chance of spreading COVID-19 and save lives,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “It’s important that all Michiganders wear masks properly – not down around the neck, not only over the mouth but correctly over the mouth and nose. Please, everyone, stay patient, and remain vigilant.”