DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Saturday requiring communities statewide to restore water service, effectively ending water shutoffs for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state has also established a $2 million fund through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to help provide funding to local communities to help reconnect homes to their water supplies.
Water shutoffs have been a hot-button issue in the state and especially in its largest city, Detroit, where more than 127,000 have been performed since 2014.
“This is a critical step both for the health of families living without a reliable water source, and for slowing the spread of the coronavirus,” Whitmer said. “We continue to work to provide all Michiganders – regardless of their geography or income level – the tools they need to keep themselves and their communities protected.”
The order is effective for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
The order comes one day after The Associated Press reported water shutoffs across the nation were back in the spotlight amid the outbreak. Water advocates and elected officials have long argued that it’s impossible for families to follow the hygienic coronavirus standards outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization when they don’t have water in their homes.
Michigan had its largest daily jump yet in COVID-19 cases after nearly 1,000 new incidents were reported Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 4,650 illnesses and 111 deaths. White House officials have previously identified Detroit as one of the next potential hot spots for the coronavirus. The number of infections surged to 1,381, with 31 deaths Saturday.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Kat Stafford is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow Stafford on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kat__stafford.