The state of Michigan is hitting pause for three weeks, including on high school athletics.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new emergency order Sunday, as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services aims to limit “indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates.”
High schools and colleges must end in-person classes during the three-week order, which goes into effect Wednesday. While professional and college sports teams may continue to play due to “meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation,” all other organized sports, including at the high school level, must stop.
High school postseason tournaments in football, volleyball and swimming and diving have been suspended, as have the start of winter sports. After being canceled in the spring and delayed this fall, high school sports in Michigan reopened Sept. 9.
“We understand the need for action, and we will explore all options to complete our fall tournaments when restrictions are lifted,” Michigan High School Athletic Association executive director Mark Uyl said, according to WXYZ, an ABC affiliate in Detroit. “We will assess everything over the next weeks relative to fall and winter sports and come up with a plan that keeps us connected to our goal, for months, of having three seasons that are played to their conclusions.”
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According to The Associated Press, Michigan’s seven-day average of daily new cases has increased from 3,113 to 6,684 in the last two weeks.
“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses,” Whitmer said in the release, which also limits outdoor activities to 25 people and indoor residential gatherings to two households at one time. “Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus."
Michigan’s new order isn’t as restrictive as it was in the spring, leaving open a number of functions across the state, including parks and individual exercise at gyms and pools. In-person classes can continue for preschool, elementary and middle schools, which have seen fewer outbreaks in Michigan.
“Indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus,” MDHHS director Robert Gordon said. “The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act. By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives.”