LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Friday, May 1, to allow real estate operations to resume on May 7, joining outdoor construction as part of the first wave of the Michigan economy’s re-engagement.

During a coronavirus briefing in Lansing on Friday, Whitmer reiterated the state’s economy will be opened in phases as part of the MI Safe Start plan she unveiled earlier this week.

“These actions will continue to come in waves, as we assess the data and consult with experts, making decisions based on an arbitrary timeline or political or legal pressure,” she said. “I'm not here to play games. My number one priority, as we work to reengage sectors of our economy, is Michigan's health and safety.”

Whitmer also addressed the protests that took place at the state Capitol on Thursday, where demonstrators entered the House gallery with signs, megaphones and assault rifles.

The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2020

While Republican lawmakers and even President Donald Trump have urged Whitmer to negotiate for other sectors to be opened, Whitmer said she will continue to use discretion based on the best public health interests.

“We're not in a political crisis where we should just negotiate and find some common ground here,” she said. “We're in a public health crisis, we're in the midst of a global pandemic that has already killed off 4,000 people in our state.

“We will work together to determine when it is safe to re-engage. This is not a switch we flip, this is a dial that we turn, and we are driven by the data were driven by the outcomes for our people were driven by the hospitalization rate, and as of right now we've lost almost (3,000) people in the last 72 hours.

“We're not out of this crisis. And it's important that we do the next right thing, and it's going to be driven by the data, that's going to be driven by medical experts. Not political polls, not political posturing, not political maneuvers like you saw yesterday in the Capitol.“

Whitmer also shrugged off a question about being a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The governor said her main focus is on navigating Michigan through the pandemic.

“I didn’t ask to be thrown into the national spotlight,” she said. “I've been trying to do my job.

“The fact of the matter is, all I'm doing is my job. And that’s all I am going to be focused on doing.”

COVID-19 cases in Michigan
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State monitoring cases in West Michigan

Michigan now has 42,356 confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 3,866 deaths from the virus, according to figures reported Friday by the state Department of Human Health and Services.

On Friday, 977 new cases were confirmed along with 77 new deaths.

The Allegan County Health Department reported 104 confirmed cases, two deaths and 19 probable cases. A probable case is found when an individual is symptomatic, but has not been tested.

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health reported 300 total cases and 16 total deaths. Ottawa County is now including probably cases in its total counts.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said Ottawa County has had a 23 percent increase in positive test results, and that the state would be monitoring the county and other West Michigan counties closely going forward.

Ottawa County COVID-19 Cases
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— Contact reporter Arpan Lobo at alobo@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo.