“We are facing incredibly dire circumstances. It may be necessary for us to take some quick action here,” Whitmer said during a news conference.
The governor didn’t rule out new restrictions as she declared Michigan was now in the “worst part” of the pandemic. The Democrat has previously faced resistance from state residents, President Trump and Republicans over her coronavirus policies aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)
"Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job," Trump tweeted last month. "She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities."
Michigan reported 6,940 new infections Thursday, which was a new record, officials said. At least 45 deaths were recorded, although they typically lag behind new cases. The state has also seen a seven-day average positivity rate of 10.2%, the highest since April.
Whitmer on Thursday said people do not need an executive order or judge to “make smart decisions for ourselves and our families.”
"We are in the worst part of this pandemic to date. This is the moment medical experts have been warning about and dreading since the beginning of the pandemic," Whitmer said, according to FOX 2 Detroit.
“Unless we get our act together right now, we could be hitting our daily peak of deaths in Michigan come Christmas,” she continued.
In March, the governor issued broad restrictions on gatherings, businesses, and schools. She recently requested lawmakers pass legislation mandating the use of face masks, which drew criticism from newly elected House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, who called it a "press stunt," the Detroit Free Press reported.
On Thursday, Whitmer called on lawmakers to take action as soon as possible to combat the number of infections. The governor added she was willing to work on a plan to help keep local businesses afloat.
"I have been asking members of the Legislature for some thoughtful partnership here to bring our numbers down. … The one great tool that we know makes a difference, in terms of a mask mandate, they have taken off the table," Whitmer said, according to the paper.
"However, they have not shown any appetite for that, or, frankly, for anything else. In fact, they’re not in session this week until December," Whitmer continued.
The governor clarified that state orders still mandate masks. Officials have echoed the importance of face coverings, social distancing and other preventative measures, as 40% of infected people are said to exhibit no virus symptoms.
Whitmer and the state's medical director, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, on Thursday urged Michiganders not to gather for Thanksgiving with people outside of their own households. Earlier that morning, hospital executives expressed their worries over hospital capacity in the state, reports said.
The hospital leaders warned that more than 3,000 people were currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in Michigan. They said the rate was doubling every two weeks and was expected to surpass 4,000 hospitalizations by the end of this month.
"This virus is out of control,” Khaldun said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “There is wide community spread of COVID-19 across the entire state. … Our hospitals are also filling up very quickly; 20% of ICU beds across the state are filled with COVID-19 patients."
In early October, the Michigan Supreme Court struck down an emergency-powers law that underpinned the governor’s orders, but her administration reinstated similar restrictions — for the size of gatherings, for example — under a different law.
As of early Friday, Michigan had reported more than 259,183 coronavirus cases and at least 8,185 deaths from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The Associated Press contributed to this report