Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday said people who leave their home for work or those who have coronavirus symptoms can be tested without a doctor’s note, expediting testing that is seen as critical to slowing the spread of the virus.
Several tribal casinos, meanwhile, announced they would reopen despite the governor’s stay-at-home restrictions.
Previously, many essential workers and those with mild or worse symptoms needed a health care provider’s permission to get a COVID-19 test in Michigan, except at a site in Detroit. The governor said community sites will not charge people out-of-pocket costs, in accordance with her new order.
People eligible for testing include those showing symptoms, who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or coronavirus symptoms, who have worked outside the home for at least 10 days or who live or work inside a nursing home, prison or other congregate setting.
“If you fit this expanded criteria, I hope that you will find a test site near you and go get tested,” said Whitmer, who directed residents to a website and hotline with a list of testing locations.
Four of the state’s 12 tribes said they will reopen seven casinos despite Whitmer’s closure of casinos and other places of public accommodation through June 12, including one that plans to restart Friday. The casinos include Bay Mills, Kings Club, Gun Lake, FireKeepers, Soaring Eagle, Soaring Eagle Slot Palace and Saganing Eagles Landing.
The tribes said they voluntarily closed to help slow the spread of the virus but are sovereign governments. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
The casinos plan to limit the number of guests, slot machines and table games. Guests’ temperatures will be taken, and staff will be required to wear masks and gloves.
Michigan has 24 tribal casinos and three commercial casinos in Detroit.
The state health department reported 26 additional deaths, bringing the total to 5,266. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive, said the number of people sickened by the virus continues to rise but at a slower rate, and more than 33,000 people have recovered.
Cases are steadily declining in southwestern Michigan and the hard-hit Detroit area, where a hospital network said it had less than 100 COVID-19 patients for the first time in more than two months. Cases continue to be low in northern Michigan. The Grand Rapids region has the highest rate of new cases, she said, at about 40 cases a day per million residents.
The state unveiled an online “dashboard” that tracks spread and testing by region and county.
Retail shops reopened with restrictions on the number of people who can be inside. People also can make an appointment to visit auto dealers.
The Michigan Retailers Association created signs that businesses can print and display. They highlight the importance of masks, hand sanitizer and customers limiting their touching to what they might buy.
Restaurants and bars remain closed to dine-in customers, except in northern Michigan.
The Republican-led Legislature, in a filing made public Tuesday, asked the state Supreme Court to bypass the normal appeals process and immediately consider its lawsuit challenging the Democratic governor’s sweeping orders. A judge ruled in Whitmer’s favor last week, and the case will next go to the state appeals court unless the high court intervenes.
White reported from Detroit.