The Republican-led Michigan Legislature refused Thursday to extend the state's coronavirus emergency declaration and voted to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's authority and actions to combat the pandemic. The governor, unfazed, responded with orders stating under one law that an emergency still exists, while declaring a new 28-day state of emergency under another law, the AP reports. The declarations are important because they are the foundation for Whitmer’s stay-at-home measure, which will remain in effect through May 15, and other directives aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The virus that causes COVID-19 has infected more than 41,000 Michigan residents and contributed to the deaths of 3,789, many in the Detroit area. Whitmer accused GOP lawmakers of “putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I’m not going to let that happen.”
The legislative pushback came as hundreds of conservative activists, including some who were openly carrying assault rifles, returned to the Capitol to denounce her stay-home order. The virus and the steps taken to curb it, including the closure of nonessential businesses, have had a devastating effect on the economy. In her new emergency orders, Whitmer said cases are doubling every six days or faster in some counties in western and northern Michigan. Some angry protesters—many without face coverings—entered the Capitol and demanded to be let onto the House floor, which is not allowed. The gallery was closed to the public to allow room for representatives and reporters to spread apart. Some demonstrators in the Senate gallery were openly carrying guns, which is legal in the statehouse. One senator said some armed men shouted at her, and some senators wore bulletproof vests for protection.
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