Governor Gretchen Whitmer is moving the Upper Peninsula back to Phase 4 on her plan to restart the state’s economy effective October 9 because of the significant increase in COVID-19 cases there, a move that will require schools to enforce mask requirements, people who can work remotely to do so and put limits on social gatherings and stores that the rest of the state, except the northern Lower Peninsula, already are observing.
It is by far the most dramatic move backward in the state’s reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state in March. The U.P. had been in Phase 5 since early June.
Ms. Whitmer, in a statement, said the U.P. has 283 cases per million people at present and a 5.1 percent positivity rate on tests.
“After seeing the increase in cases in the U.P. region over the past several weeks and consulting with medical experts, I have decided to take action to protect U.P. families and move the region back a phase. I know this is hard. I know it will be an adjustment. But we can’t let our guard down,” Ms. Whitmer said in a statement. “COVID-19 is still a very real threat to our families, frontline workers, and small businesses. Everyone should implement these changes as swiftly as possible. This virus doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, a Republican or a Democrat, young or old. No one is immune. Right now the most effective weapon we have is pretty simple: it’s wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth. It’s washing your hands with soap and water. And maintaining six feet of physical distance from one another. Let’s all be smart and stay safe.”
Problems at the U.P. are largely attributed to the lack of COVID-19 protocols in Wisconsin with U.P. residents contracting the virus while in that state for work or recreation.