Social distancing crackdown coming in Michigan as coronavirus deaths mount

Detroit park

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he’s frustrated by crowds that persist despite the coronavirus and warns that police will begin making arrests. The city already has taken down basketball hoops at playgrounds and parks. 

Three weeks after the coronavirus came to Michigan, officials are increasingly frustrated by those who ignore social distancing rules and stepping up enforcement of violators.

In Lansing, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is under pressure to close in-store lottery sales because of fears of long lines. In Flint, worries about late-night crowds led to a citywide curfew. And in Detroit, the city has dismantled basketball hoops and increased patrols around parks.

Sounding tired, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan began his daily press conference on Friday with a grim statistic and a warning.

"Today, we lost another 19 of our citizens,” Duggan said. “We are going to have to deal far more strictly on enforcing the governor's order on social distancing."

Duggan acknowledged city officials had “significant debate … about closing parks” but settled on increased patrols, plane flyovers and video surveillance to disperse crowds. The city will begin issuing misdemeanor citations punishable by $1,000 fines and six months in jall, he said.

“We’ve got the resources to deal with these violations,” Duggan said Friday, as some police officers return to work after the department was hard hit by the virus

“We don’t want to be fining anybody, but we can’t be having these gatherings, we can’t be having folks on the street.”

Duggan announced the crackdown the day after Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon issued an order allowing police to fine violators up to $1,000 or implement criminal penalties for breaking social distancing rules. 

The penalties reflect anxiety that residents aren’t following executive orders to minimize gatherings and slow the spread of COVID-19, which has sickened 12,744 statewide and killed 479 as of Friday afternoon. Cases have nearly tripled in the last week, as the virus spreads from southeast Michigan.

About 25 percent of cases and deaths have been in Detroit. 

"I don't know if we can bend the curve in Detroit,” Duggan admitted Friday, warning residents that more restrictions could soon be coming.

“They failed to do it in New York and the loss of life is almost unimaginable."

Until now, police statewide have largely said they will warn violators, and state officials are leaving prosecution decisions to local authorities, said Michigan Attorney General spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney. 

In practice, charges may be challenging to implement: Courts statewide are closed to non-emergency cases and police may be hesitant to detain violators who can’t pay fees for safety reasons. 

But “the courts are going to open someday,” Duggan said. “So we are going to deal with this in reasonable ways.”

Elsewhere, Flint became the first city in the state Thursday to institute a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to limit the spread of the virus, with violations punishable by a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Statewide, the Attorney General’s office is advising local law enforcement to issue warnings to businesses that don’t enforce social distancing and non-essential stores that remain open despite Whitmer’s orders.

The state has issued a handful of cease-and-desist letters to non-essential businesses, and has yet to take any disciplinary action, said Rossman-McKinney.

“It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but at this point we’ve found that folks are pretty reasonable,” Rossman-McKinney said.

As of last week, officials with the Department of Natural Resources also said they were monitoring crowds at parks. 

The agency has closed Tippy Dam Recreation Area, a popular steelhead fishing spot on the Manistee River, and agency officials warned more closures are coming if visitors don’t keep their distance.

Officials at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have closed some facilities and discouraged out-of-towners from traveling long distances to visit the lakeshore, but park superintendent Scott Tucker said rangers are not enforcing the social distancing order on an individual basis.

"That's a losing battle," Tucker said, noting that it can be difficult for park rangers to tell by sight whether visitors are out hiking with members of their household (which is allowed under Whitmer's orders) or mingling in violation of the order. 

"Rangers are not out there policing with a tape measure. If folks are in the park, we're assuming they're there for the right reasons."

— Bridge reporter Louis Aguilar contributed to this article


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Kevin Grand
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 7:58am

"“We’ve got the resources to deal with these violations,” Duggan said Friday, as some police officers return to work after the department was hard hit by the virus.

“We don’t want to be fining anybody, but we can’t be having these gatherings, we can’t be having folks on the street.”"

No, you don't, Mayor Duggan.

Detroit already has a significant number of sworn personnel and command staff under quarantine due to the Huwan Virus. Like any other contagious virus, those numbers will only increase over time and you resources will be stretched even thinner.

There is going to come a time when people are going to stop believing the lies promulgated by the politicians and the media. When that finally happens, things will start going sideways.

These two stories had already slipped through the cracks about how everything was "under control".

Antagonizing residents with these petty "social distancing" threats/commands/directives, coupled with law enforcement who are are just itching to cause problems won't end well.

If residents are acting in a lawful manner, then they should be left alone, period! There are far more serious issues to be focusing on, rather than protecting some politicians/bureaucrats overinflated ego.

I call BS
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 5:12pm

Kevin, I had a hardcore Republican friend who used to talk just like you. His funeral service is going to stream online this week. COVID-19 is not seasonal flu.

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 8:33am

Prove it.

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 5:46pm

"Antagonizing residents with these petty 'social distancing' threats/commands/directives, coupled with law enforcement who are are just itching to cause problems won't end well." Talk about fear mongering!! There is nothing "petty" about social distancing. There are no law enforcement officers "itching to cause problems". Kevin, everyone needs to stay home, black, white, brown, all tones, unless they provide an essential service. Which residents are acting in a lawful manner, that are not being left alone? Anyone not practicing social distancing is NOT acting in a lawful manner. GROW UP!

Kevin Grand
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 11:05pm

You never bothered going through the links/videos, did you?

If you did, then you would know EXACTLY why I posted those comments above.

Let me also just add that your grasp of local history is appalling.

I don't know on what day the image above was taken, other than it was at Riverside Park in Southwest Detroit during the late afternoon/early evening, but I do know this: NO ONE in the image was doing anything inappropriate or illegal. The people in that image were not forcing themselves on others. They were just socializing and trying to be active. Not an easy task with most people out of work solely due to a poorly conceived government fiat and schools operating...well, I'm not sure even the schools know what's happening themselves right now.

But go right ahead. You want to invoke your "Mommy Dearest" ideology on the masses because YOU believe that they're too my guest!

See what happens.

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 9:47am

This is no time to be socializing in person. PERIOD. Are you nuts?

Gary Lea
Sun, 04/05/2020 - 6:57am

Huwan is like writing about Tedroit - check your temperature...
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 8:29am

My corner hardware and party store are open. Same for Home Depot, Lowes, Menards. Yet the realtor business, basically a one on one affair allowing distancing, is closed. We NEED to keep all "safe" business open, and close those which are not necessary. ( Disclosure: i do real estate photography.) Oh, and Leelanau county just closed its boat docks. Whatever for?? People can easily engage (or not engage) at such a site in total safety.

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 11:56am

Well if they want us to stay in then they can pay us for our time. As long as our taxes going into their pocket by law its our way or the can get the fuck out of our country

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 9:50am

Back of the line, Wall Street first. Don't hold your breath for the government checks or small business loans.

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 12:44pm

You really think that they will start arresting black folks who are in groups in Detroit?? Try it and see what happens after. There will be race cards falling from the skies....

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 12:48pm

Slowly they think they can void our U.S. Constitution. It's happening with a civil right one week, a U.S. Constitutional right the following week. Lines for food, curfew? What the hell?? I was told soon we won't be able to go take a ride ALONE in our cars. I dare ANYONE to try to tell me I can't do that. It won't end well. I'm done with this communistic nonsense.

Sun, 04/05/2020 - 12:34pm

You don't take this seriously, the way Trump wants you to, you will probably die from COVID 19, infecting countless others along the way. Stop talking like a jerk and advocating nonsense. We are at war with a virus and you are talking like a deserter who wants to give comfort to the enemy.

Trump's own people say next week will be like Pearl Harbor and 911 combined. What more do you have to see to get a clue? Racists think it's not a problem if lower class people of color die, but you may not realize those are the people stocking your grocery shelves and caring for your elderly loved ones stuck in their homes. Right now it takes seven to eleven days or more to get COVID 19 test results.

Poorer people can't afford to skip work, can't afford to go to the doctor, and unless they have underlying health concerns won't even qualify to be tested. So these people are going around infecting everyone else while they wait for their test results, if they are so lucky to be tested.

It's time for you knuckleheads, like you, to realize we're all in this together. Stand-alones will die alone, while harming all the rest of us. Anyone with half a brain knows desperate times call for desperate measures. Use your brain, please, before the plague hits someone you love.

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 10:27am

You've lost it. Trust me when I tell you that a vast majority of the people who die from this are and will continue to be OLD, SICK people who were going to die in one of the next one or two flu seasons anyway. The VERY FEW younger people who die are outliers and not relevant - It's like you wackos have forgotten that the flu takes infants every year - And we don't shut the country down for that, now do we?

Sat, 04/11/2020 - 4:23pm

Driving our autos in Michigan or any other state that makes other transport rather risky is the act of a moron. I'll agree on that point. I also do not want to use the *bike* lane for my riding. Kinda suicidal from what I can see. I'll take the road center or the rightmost portion of a driving lane thanks.

Duh Smith
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 1:12pm

Never thought that the First Amendment would die before the Second under a democratic governor

Sat, 04/04/2020 - 3:08pm

Michigan now social distances? WTF is going on in Detroit? W The F have you been ? The country has been doing this for weeks and your sorry asses are outside lollygagging like nothing is going on. As long as this behavior continues of NOT taking this seriously PEOPLE WILL DIE. Good job Detroit!

Sun, 04/05/2020 - 12:39pm

Sadly governors of eight states still disagree with you. What happened when we make all these great sacrifices and then residents from those other states bring the virus here? Answer: We have to start all over again with our sacrifices. We need all states to take the same measures all at once. Funny how Italy is doing better than the US. It will be months before we start to see a difference here because of the people not taking proper precautions.

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 8:23pm

If you think the goal of these measures is to stop the spread or actually reduce the final number of cases, you haven't been paying attention. It's far too late to be effective if that was the goal. All these measures are doing is spreading the number of cases out over 1-2 years so that the healthcare system isn't overwhelmed while we wait for a vaccine. We've dramatically overshot that goal and made sure that the healthcare system is so underwhelmed that they are going bankrupt and laying off doctors, nurses and support staff. Not one person has been denied care or a ventilator, not even close.

On top of that, there may never actually be a vaccine, and certainly not before herd immunity is reached, even if we maintain our current social distancing measures for the years it will likely take to create a vaccine. The disease will continue to spread at grocery stores, essential businesses, parks.

Are you okay with losing your freedom to work, visit your friends and family, protest for 1-2 years for measures that will not decrease the overall case volume one bit? Are you okay with small business owners losing their life's work with no benefit? How about middle class americans losing their homes? The only relief offered by the largest banks in the country is a 3 month deferral, at which time back payments in full will be due.

To be clear, I'm not advocating for no measures- I think we should isolate the sick and vulnerable, and let the rest of the country get back to work. Without that, there will be no country left to support the sick and vulnerable.

Lock them up
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 5:05pm

A picture tells a thousand words. These people are suing for free speech and religious reasons:
No one can say these people are Pro Life. They are not even trying to practice social distancing, taunting our brave police officers, putting us all at risk to die horrible deaths, including first responders. How dare they? I say lock them up.

Sun, 04/05/2020 - 11:22am

Why don't you try that and see how it works out for you.

Funny when leftists are the ones who are saying that prison sentences for violent offenders are too long and you are wanting sentences for people exercising their 1st Amendment right.

Looks like we are really close to war. Sucks. People with your type of view would not fare well if that were to happen.

No need
Mon, 04/06/2020 - 10:01am

There's no need to lock them up. They'll just die from socializing, in church or elsewhere. Look at the poor state of Boris Johnson. Sad part is that they are infecting others. You can't say unknowingly. They know because of the odds. They just don't care. No they aren't Pro Life. No they don't care about the Constitution. All the tough talk and threats posted here are hilarious. Countless fools have been jailed for far less.

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 7:47pm

No, they won't die unless they are really old or already sick and in that case they were probably going to die soon anyway. Nuff said. A bunch of obese, diabetics and elderly are dying. This sounds like a typical day in the neighborhood. Yes, there are more of them dying than normal, but there is only a limited supply of this bunch and sooner or later there won't be any more of them for this chinese flu to kill. Herd immunity. Natural selection. After all, we are just evolved animals, right?

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 10:04am

We're not close to war. We are at war, with a virus. I'm a healthcare worker. What is your role?

middle of the mit
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 2:00am

When have "leftists" ever called for for lighter sentences for non-violent offenders?

It's a simple question, and since you are THE alt knowing omniscient one, please, could you let the rest of us know when these things were said?

Because I am one of those leftists, and I have NEVER heard the things that you are spewing out of your key board come from any leftist.


Your comments and comments from people like you FORCE ME TO be the person that I am. Why? Because you refuse to accept a reality the rest of us have to live in.

And if I have to talk to you in the same tone you talk to the rest of American society Aka Fox News, OAN and others like Limbaugh and Hannity, why demean me as a troll and those people as newsworthy?

It's a darn good question.....Isn't it?

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 12:16pm

If you can wade through the coronavirus news you will find that there are actually quite a few "leftists" pushing to free people from prison "because coronavirus"

Sounds like you have emotional problems

I'm definitely left of center but I think you are wrong and he is right

Bjorn Arnesen
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 10:32am

Anyone who uses the term "Leftist" seriously is too immature to discuss anything. Go back to preschool.

middle of the mit
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 8:56pm

The more comments I read on this board from conservative and "libertarians" makes my hope want to vanish.

They all complain about how this is nothing more than the flu or a cold and we should all just let the kids back into to school and keep sporting events and businesses open but we should also shut down the hot spots.

This is where things get into to the schizophrenic mode.

It's NOT A DISEASE! BUT KEEP IT AWAY FROM US! Let our businesses get up and running............but how are you going to run when ALL OF YOUR SUPPLIES COME FROM THE FILTHY INFESTED LIBERAL TAXHOLES?

It's the conundrum I have been trying to get you to deal with for some time now.

Come on experts!

Tell us how you are going to deal with that?

Won't they just be transporting it up here the same it way it got here from China?

Critical thinking. It isn't just for elites.

T. Jefferson
Sat, 04/04/2020 - 9:23pm

I prefer dangerous freedom to peaceful slavery. Any person willing to sell a little freedom for temporary safety deserves neither. Sic semper tyrannis

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 10:07am

Jefferson, Revere? LOL

Sally Hemings
Mon, 04/06/2020 - 10:14am

Please, you're free, but you can only go so far in your walker.

Jack Napier
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 6:18pm

I find it easier to mock you and personally insult you than to respond in a substantive manner to your comments. You're probably racist or sexist or something since you don't agree with me 100%. And what was that crazy stuff you wrote at the end of your comments- was that Trump talk for something?

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 10:29am

All of us other armed folk strongly agree with you.

Sun, 04/05/2020 - 12:08am

Hahaha, these bureaucratic idiots are trying to start a war. How funny.
So what comes after people refuse to comply with this tyranny even after a "crackdown"?
Do they start shooting us?

Welcome to America. Now go read the First Amendment, which is non negotiable no matter what some bureaucrats will try and tell you.
Stand up for what is right and excercise your freedom. For those of you who are eating up the lies that the bureaucrats and media are spreading - go live in fear - bite your nails inside your houses and never come out again. Your frail, fearful ways are not needed.

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 10:32am

Go take a basic statistics class, then look at the sample method, size, etc for every single number published on this - Then hang your head in shame.
Ignorance is ugly. We have reached the point of nearly 100% fake news on every "media" outlet out there and people like you are just eating it right up.

Sun, 04/05/2020 - 6:55am

Here it is nwo authoritarian world order '84 etc

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 7:27am

Did you see the story about the limited tests? So many have died and didnt get tested so their passing is not counted as a Covid-19 death....The death toll is 10x worse than they led us to believe.

Wed, 04/08/2020 - 8:32am

The Cure For Coronavirus Is To Stop Being Gullible.

C = 3, v = 22 , 322 = Skull & Bones



Steve charles
Sat, 04/18/2020 - 11:37pm

Its all crap and i am a survivor of the covid-19 virus. Fear mongers and misleading the public.

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 8:06pm

I’m not a native of Michigan, but I have been reading the comments on this forum and if I may, I’d like to contribute something. I’m not saying that what people are doing is right, but if you look at this from a psychological point of view, you’ll understand why they’re doing it. People are out and about because they’re trying to keep from going absolutely out of their minds. Did you guys know that the suicide rate has gone up because of this damn virus? Google it and you’ll see. There are people who live alone, who can’t go anywhere and because of social distancing policies, no one can go to them to help them if they should need help due to illness or anything worse. As a result, some people just give up and do something drastic. This lock down has been going on since mid to late March, and quite understandably, people are saying, “WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!!! People want to be able to go into a place of business without some stranger running up to them, waving some electronic device in their faces claiming to be taking their temperature or telling them to hide their face behind a mask. They want to go to the airport, check in, go through security, wait in the departure lounge for their plane, and just go go go go! Etc., Etc. People are sick and tired of putting their social lives on hold and/or living them through a robot. We can’t go on like this. I’m about to enter another school year of college, and once again, my only interaction with my classmates is via a bucket of bolts. I live in the state of New York, and it’s basically the same thing here. We are not machines. No matter what state you’re from, the leaders can threaten fines or jail all they want but it won’t change anything. You can’t make or force anyone in this country to do anything, because this is still the U.S.A!