Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told Michigan business leaders on Thursday (9/17) the state of emergency she enacted in March to respond to the coronavirus pandemic will likely last months longer, according to a report in Gongwer. She outlined a similar timeline in an opinion piece published on Friday (9/18) in The Detroit Free Press.

Speaking to the Small Business Association of Michigan in a video conference event, Whitmer made the case for continuing to exercise her emergency powers. Those powers have drawn criticism from Republicans, with legislative leadership having filed a lawsuit that has reached the Supreme Court over their legality.

Through her emergency powers she has also issued more than 170 COVID-19-related executive orders to-date, though some are not in effect or replace previous orders.

The governor’s talk of the state of emergency was in response to a question from SBAM President Brian Calley, who asked her what it might take to move from a state of emergency to a more collaborative, normal process of managing the situation.

“This isn’t in perpetuity. This is probably a matter of months before we’re out of a state of emergency,” Whitmer said.

Several factors will impact the shift from a state of emergency, she added. Among them is case counts, getting an effective vaccine, the availability of therapeutics and more information on virus immunity.

“There’s been incredible progress,” Whitmer said, noting several potential vaccine options are already in human trials and further potential vaccines are also in large-scale clinical trials.

Calley followed up by pressing her to quantify a timeline. Whitmer then amended it would not be a matter of years, but a matter of months.

She referred to federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control Director Robert Redford’s recent testimony that a vaccine could be ready for widespread public use by mid-2021 as evidence that the situation is approaching a time where things are turning a corner.

“There’s just so many unknowns that it wouldn’t be responsible for me to put a finer point on that,” Whitmer said.

Calley also asked about what it would take to reopen still-shuttered businesses, such as movie theaters.

Whitmer said work among health experts is still being done to assess how to reopen such businesses.

“I am continually reviewing the status of movie theaters and other businesses that have been disengaged for the longest period of time. I want to get them back online at a capacity that will keep people safe,” Whitmer said. “But, we’ve reengaged so much, we’ve got to let a little time go by so we can see what it means in terms of our numbers.”

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