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COVID-19 Restrictions In Michigan

Groesbeck Golf Course sign and club house.
Naina Rao
Lansing's Groesbeck Golf Course has reopened after courses in Michigan were forced to close due to COVID-19 concerns.

COVID-19 restrictions under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders are being eased. Even though the stay home directive remains in place until May 15th, activities like golf and boating are being allowed.

WKAR’s Scott Pohl talks with infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Gulick about Michigan’s approach, which is slower than that of some other states.

DR. PETER GULICK: What she's doing is being very cautious. And I, as a health care provider, I think that's a good idea, and the fact that we want to open things up, we want to try to get the businesses to open so that the economic situation can get better, but we have to still be cautious that we don't hit a second spike. The fact that she's doing things in a slow manner, then doing testing, I think the testing is critical, that we try to test as many individuals as we can in different environments. Nursing homes, for instance, have critical areas where we find that there's a lot of asymptomatic individuals in nursing homes that are COVID positive, so we have to make sure certain areas are tested and so we have an adequate idea of who's infected and to try to make things as safe as possible.

SCOTT POHL: I'd like to ask you about outdoor activities like boating and golf. Did you think we needed to restrict those activities, and do you think it's okay to relax how we're handling things like outdoor activities along that line?

GULICK: Well, one thing about outdoor activities is that there's a wider area there to spread out so you don't have to be in crowds so to speak, you can be by yourself or be with one or two other people and maintain that six foot distance rather easily. You're in an open environment too, where you're not in a crowded, closed in space. So, I think things like boating and golfing probably are a little bit easier to do as far as maintaining that distance rather than in closed areas, like theaters or conference rooms or things like that.

POHL: One of the other changes made by the Governor has to do with requiring masks in stores. Employees need to wear a mask and visitors are expected to wear a mask now too. Tell me how you feel about that.

GULICK: I think that's a good idea. Remember that when you're looking at the masks, we're talking about they're either the surgical masks or the homemade masks. The main purpose of those masks is to prevent the individual from spreading the virus. For instance, we know that this asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic group of individuals is it could be a large group, and it could be where most of the infections are being spread from. And so, individuals that may be mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic, that might cough or sneeze or something, if they have a mask on, the limitation of that could be very important. That's where the mask is useful.

POHL: Georgia is opening back up for business at a much more rapid pace. What do you make of how Georgia is proceeding?

GULICK: Well, they have almost 19,000 cases reported and about 723 deaths, and they've been doing testing as well. They have done almost 80,000 tests through vendors and through their state, and so they're trying to get a handle on the number of cases as well, both that have been symptomatic as well as asymptomatic. Sometimes when you do too much too quickly, things can kind of get out of control, for instance, where you might not do these protective things, and things may change.

As you know, this virus is very contagious, and like I said before, a lot of the individuals that transmit this virus are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, which may be individuals that may forget to do some of these distancing and mask providing. So, I think this will be something very interesting to see what happens. I hope everything happens well, I hope it's a successful approach, but again, it's something that one has to be very careful about and you don't want to do things too quickly when you have something like this.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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