State clamps down on indoor gatherings, restaurant seating amid COVID-19 surge 

Karen Ducey/Getty Images
Updated, 10:58 a.m., 10/30/20

As the state continues to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on Thursday revised and extended its order to contain coronavirus spread. 

“The only way to beat COVID is to act on what we’ve learned since March,” said Robert Gordon DHHS director. “Wear masks. Keep six feet of distance. Wash hands. And avoid the indoor get-togethers where we have seen COVID explode.”

Although most of the order is unchanged, new provisions target indoor gatherings where COVID has spread most rapidly. The new directive that states no more than 50 people can attend an indoor gathering without fixed seating. The previous limit was 500. 

Additionally, no more than six people can be seated at a table at a bar or restaurant setting. Beginning Monday, businesses must now take names and phone numbers of patrons for contact tracing purposes.

Michigan has more than 167,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 7,200 deaths as of Wednesday. The state has broken 3,000 daily cases twice in the last week.*

Report: Michigan on track to exceed 4K daily COVID-19 cases by Nov. 15

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have doubled over the last three weeks while the state death rate has increased for five consecutive weeks. Gordon suggested that Michigan residents get together outside whenever possible, as coronavirus rates are up 20 times higher when people congregate inside.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, called the situation “incredibly concerning.” 

“The orders that MDHHS has issued are centered on keeping the public safe and following best practices to reduce the spread of this deadly virus,” Khaldun said. “The alarming surge we are now seeing is exactly why we were so worried about the fall season. We must remain vigilant, so we prevent long-term health consequences and unnecessary deaths, and protect our hospital capacity and the health of our frontline health workers.”

The order treats all regions of the state the same, as cases are now at a high level statewide. The Traverse City region previously had fewer restrictions due to lower COVID-19 rates, but is included with all regions in this order.

Meanwhile, the nation set a single-day record for coronavirus cases with 80,622 infections reported Wednesday, according to NBC News. 

Correction: The story had incorrect information regarding daily cases and deaths.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.