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Whitmer responds to Supreme Court ruling on COVID-19 executive orders

Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 5:44 PM EDT
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director are urging the Michigan Supreme Court to clarify when the ruling issued Friday actually takes effect.

Their contention is current orders should stay in effect until the end of the month, but the court hasn’t given an exact date.

“I am undeterred. We’re going to continue to move forward and do everything we can yo keep people safe,” Whitmer said.

The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Friday, saying she exceeded her authority with a series of executive orders to mandate coronavirus restrictions over the last five months.

“I think there are a lot of unknowns. I really do. We have seen something similar happen in Wisconsin and other national hot spots. So we are working to make sure that we understand the reach of the order and that we take action where we still have some tools to keep people safe,” Whitmer said.

She was in Bay City campaigning for State Rep. Brian Elder when she made those remarks. Whitmer said the impact of the court’s decision goes beyond the wearing of masks and social distancing.

“This court decision has broad ramifications, whether it is when our taxes were due, whether it is who is eligible for unemployment benefits,” Whitmer said.

But she made clear the ruling doesn’t mean people and businesses can now forgo masks in public.

“The Department of Health and Human Services does have epidemic authority. They can promulgate rules. A mask order is one of them. I would anticipate, I think that will be clear is short order,” Whitmer said.

The department reissued orders similar to Whitmer’s mask mandate, gathering limits and indoor bar service limits on Monday afternoon.

“Whether it’s the court, whether it’s the governor, we all know what the right thing to do is," Whitmer said. "We shouldn’t have to have someone else tell us to do it. We’ve got to hold each other accountable. We’ve got to mask up. We’ve got to practice physical distancing. We have to wash our hands, and I think that’s kind of where things are right now.”

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