UPDATE: Gov. Whitmer says construction may be next Michigan sector to restart
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she may soon allow construction to restart in Michigan if coronavirus hospitalizations continue to drop and testing rises.
The governor, who spoke with Politico, held an afternoon news conference with business and health care leaders to discuss how she is assessing the virus’s risk in different economic sectors.
“I would anticipate in the coming days if our trajectory of hospitalizations continues to go down and our ability to test continues to go up that we will go into the next low-risk category,” she said. “That might include some construction, for instance. That might include some additional outdoor enterprises.”
Michigan reported 92 additional deaths from COVID-19 and 432 more confirmed cases. Deaths surpassed 3,400; cases topped 38,000.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Michigan had about 180,000 construction workers in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was not immediately clear how many lost work due to the pandemic, though road projects were allowed to continue under Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders. Jeff Wiggins, director of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, estimated that 70 to 80% of construction work has been halted, delayed or canceled.
Republicans who control the Legislature have been pushing the Democratic governor to allow construction to resume.
Whitmer on Friday extended and loosened what she said was among the country’s strictest stay-home measures, letting businesses such as lawn-care companies reopen and people with multiple homes again travel between them. The measure is in effect through May 15.
Starting Monday, people had to wear a face-covering in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores. All businesses and operations with in-person workers were required to give them a non-medical grade mask.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel urged police to be lenient on employers that take “good-faith efforts” to secure masks but have trouble because of limited supplies.
You can watch the press conference here: