Home Coronavirus Relaxed testing restrictions and live COVID-19 map announced by Whitmer

Relaxed testing restrictions and live COVID-19 map announced by Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with Dr. Joneigh Khaldun,Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy, during a press briefing Tuesday (courtesy photo).

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-104 on Tuesday, May 26. The order was announced at a press briefing the same day, and relaxes the requirements for receiving and administering the COVID-19 tests. The press briefing also served as a platform for the announcement of a new live data stream that contains the COVID-19 case numbers for Michigan. 

As outlined during the briefing, people can get tested for COVID-19 under the new order by meeting one of the following criteria:

  1. Exhibits any symptom of COVID-19;
  2. Has been exposed to a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms;
  3. Has been working outside their home for at least 10 days;
  4. Resides or works in any congregate setting, such as a long-term care facility, prison or jail, homeless shelter, or migrant camp.

Also, the order allows Michiganders to get tested without a doctor’s note. The order permits pharmacists, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and registered professional nurses to administer the test. 

Whitmer also announced plans to increase the number of testing sites in Michigan. A testing site finder is available here. As of Tuesday, May 26 there are seven testing sites in Kent County.

“Later this week, we will be expanding our testing abilities across Michigan by offering self-swab tests at 16 CVS pharmacy locations,” Beverly Allen, CEO of Aetna Better Health of Michigan, said. Aetna is a subsidiary of CVS Health. 

Officials have been basing their policy decisions on the statistical data related to COVID-19, and that data is now available to the public, in real time, here

The interactive map offers a timeline of new cases, deaths, and testing data for each region and county. It was put together by teams from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Michigan. 

On a personal note, Whitmer spoke about the reaction her family has received in recent days.

“My family has had men with automatic rifles standing in view of our front window outside of our home. We have read the vile things people have said and written in response to my stay home, stay safe order. My daughters have seen the likeness of their mother hung from a noose in effigy,” she said. 

At the end of the briefing, Whitmer acknowledged a “failed attempt at humor” made by her husband, Marc Mallory. According to Whitmer, Mallory had been in the process of getting a boat put in the water by a small business when he made a comment about speeding up the process because of his relationship to Whitmer. 

“He thought it might get a laugh,” Whitmer said. “It didn’t. And to be honest, I wasn’t laughing either when it was relayed to me, because I knew how it would be perceived.”

During the Q & A portion at the end of the briefing, officials touched on a few semi-related topics, such as the flooding in Midland and the impacts of the pandemic on mental health in Michigan. 

Whitmer told reporters that she is planning to visit Midland tomorrow, at which point more information will be available about the situation relating to the recent dam failures. She also mentioned that she has been speaking with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about the dam infrastructure and flooding crisis in the area. 

“Our COVID-19 testing effort is just one of our many pandemic-focused initiatives,” Allen said. “Another critical part of our response has been in mental health. We believe that while it is less visible, the escalating mental health crisis is emerging as a second curve we are hoping to help flatten… We are offering expanded services and resources through Aetna to all front line healthcare workers, essential workers, and senior citizens, whether or not they are covered by an Aetna health plan.”