DETROIT (AP) — The city of Detroit will continue to adhere to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency orders aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, even after the state Supreme Court ruled she has no authority to impose restrictions.
Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters Friday that Michigan’s Public Health Code of 1978 gives local health officers the right to act in an epidemic.
In Detroit, at least, restaurants still have to limit capacity to 50%, while capacity at the city’s three casinos is limited to 15%. People must wear masks in public.
Michigan Supreme Court justices in a 4-3 vote last week declared the 1945 law repeatedly used by Whitmer to respond to the coronavirus pandemic unconstitutional.
The ruling has put months of restrictions in jeopardy while COVID-19 continues to flare up around the state.
The public health order issued Friday by Detroit’s Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair reinstates aspects of Whitmer’s order that were struck down by the justices.
Appropriate face coverings are required in public and on public transportation. Capacity limitations still are required in Detroit’s restaurants, bars and casinos. Bowling alleys, theaters, gyms and other venues are allowed to operate so long as they comply with rules for workplaces and gatherings, according to Fair’s order.
Duggan praised Whitmer’s leadership on COVID-19 guidance since she issued stay-at-home orders in March.
“We have always had the right to operate as a city,” Duggan said. “We haven’t done it because of the leadership. What we are going to do is make sure this city has certainty and continuity because what we are doing is making sure the steps the governor has taken continue to protect the city of Detroit.”
More than 132,000 virus cases have been confirmed in Michigan and more than 6,800 people have died from the virus, according to the state.
Detroit has reported more than 14,680 confirmed cases and 1,541 deaths. Duggan said Detroit residents are being infected with the virus at half the rate of suburban residents and others across the state.
“But if an African American gets COVID-19, African Americans are two to three times more likely to die of it than Caucasians,” he said.
Then, in a barely veiled dig at President Donald Trump, Duggan added: “I really want to be clear what we all know, that if somebody in Detroit gets COVID-19, there’s no helicopter coming to take you to Walter Reed Hospital for the latest experimental treatment.”
Last week, a presidential helicopter took Trump from the White House lawn to the hospital in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, where he spent several days getting treated for the coronavirus.
The Michigan Supreme Court did not make clear when Whitmer’s order would end. The court’s action came on the same day that Whitmer’s foes submitted more than 539,000 signatures in a bid to repeal the ’45 law.
Republicans in the state Legislature have said a 1976 law gives lawmakers a say in any emergency declarations after 28 days.
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