Coronavirus in Michigan: Day 85

Friends and family again allowed to visit patients in health care facilities

Whitmer reels back more restrictions as COVID-19 curve flattens

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WEDNESDAY, June 3 — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today the revocation of multiple executive orders, including loosened rules on who can visit patients in certain health care settings.

Under a newly relaxed mandate from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, loved ones can once again accompany people to medical appointments and can also again visit friends and family in the hospital, reports from the Detroit Free Press.

“As we slowly and safely reopen our economy, it’s important to roll back emergency orders designed to deal with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said in a recent press release. “By rolling back executive orders, and allowing more people to visit their loved ones in hospitals, it sends a clear signal we are making progress in the fight against COVID-19.”

The announcement formally rescinds an order that had prohibited visitors at medical facilities to prevent the spread of the virus. Those restrictions are no longer necessary, Whitmer explained.

MDHHS Director Robert Gordon noted some restrictions remain amid the relaxed restrictions.

State officials said health care facilities are still required to:

  • Limit visitor entry to designated entrances that allow proper screening;
  • Post signage at the visitor entrance instructing visitors to be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms before entry and not allowing those who have symptoms to enter the site.
  • Perform a health evaluation of those that are not under the care of the facility each time the individual seeks to enter the facility, and deny entry to those that fail them;
  • Discourage entering to visit persons at high risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19, including older adults and those with underlying medical conditions;
  • Restrict visitation to the patient’s room or other designated locations;
  • Require visitors who are medically able to wear a mask or other cloth face covering, and swiftly remove from the facility visitors who fail to abide by this requirement;
  • For in-patient stays, make available on-site and off-site alternatives to in-person visits, such as video or audio calls;
  • Disallow visitation during aerosol-generating procedures or during collection of respiratory specimens unless deemed necessary by hospital staff for the care and well-being of the patient; and
  • Permit visitation only during select hours and limits the number of visitors per resident.

Across Michigan…

Whitmer also rescinded an executive order that allowed public entities to delay requests for public records under the Freedom of Information Act. Those restrictions will be lifted June 11.

Under a prior executive order issued in April, Whitmer gave state agencies and local governments more time to respond to those requests amid the pandemic. That extra leeway is no longer necessary as more employees return to work and the curve flattens, Whitmer said.

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Whitmer announced today a group of 25 leaders in health care and education to serve on the state’s “Return to Learn Advisory Council.” The goal: Find a way to reopen public schools safely.

“I know this group is prepared to carefully examine the data and consult with experts when helping me determine what is best for our kids,” Whitmer said in a recent press release.

Whitmer last month signed an executive order to create the advisory council in order to identify critical issues that must be addressed, provide input to inform the process of returning to school and ensure a smooth and safe transition as students head back to the classroom later this year.

The Council will recommend actions to remove statutory and administrative barriers to delivering education before the state eventually emerges into a post-pandemic world. The council includes four members of the state Legislature and dozens of other participants.

Among them: Mary Gebara, a trustee on the Okemos Public Schools Board of Education and chairwoman of staff outreach for the Okemos Education Foundation; Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart and Joshua Smith, a school counselor from Jackson.

Whitmer also appointed Greg Talberg to the council, the former board of education president at Williamston Community Schools who was narrowly defeated in a recall election last year over the school’s welcoming policies on transgender students. Talberg teaches at Howell Public Schools.

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The Michigan National Guard will continue its efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic after President Donald Trump extended federal deployment — known as Title 32 authority — until Aug. 21. The extension comes after Whitmer urged Trump last month to extend those efforts.

The National Guard has played a critical role in flattening the COVID-19 curve in Michigan by distributing personal protective equipment, food and medical supplies, helping with testing and other forms of help, Whitmer said. Without extension, assistance would’ve ceased on June 24.

***

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told federal lawmakers today that the $11.2 million in CARES Act Funding appropriated to Michigan for election challenges posed by the coronavirus is not enough, according to reports in the Detroit News. She said she still needs at least $40 million in federal funding to adjust election procedures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The testimony comes nearly two weeks after Trump threatened Michigan funding over Benson's decision to mail absentee ballot applications to qualified Michigan voters ahead of the August and November elections. The state already allows voters to cast ballots by mail for any reason.

***

Some Greater Lansing tanning salons have still started reopening despite Whitmer's order that those businesses remain closed, the Lansing State Journal reports. J2 Tanning announced it would reopen five of its seven salons across Greater Lansing.

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The State Journal also reports that the Ingham County Fair has canceled many traditional offerings this year but still plans to host a livestock show with socially distant precautions. The midway, amusement rides, grandstand shows and other large events remain canceled this year.

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Like other municipalities, the city of East Lansing announced today that nearly 100 employees will work reduced work hours during June and July and have their pay supplemented by both state unemployment benefits and $600 in weekly federal funding through the CARES Act.

Employees will see a 30-60% reduction in hours, retain health insurance benefits and in most cares, bring in more cash in their weekly paychecks than normal with the federal boost. The city expects to save about $317,000 across four periods as a result of the staffing reductions.

As a part of the program and due to reduced staff hours, City Hall and the 54B District Court will be closed to the public on Fridays upon re-opening, which is still tentatively planned for June 15.

In the numbers…

Four more coronavirus cases were recorded across Greater Lansing today, pushing up the regional case count to at least 1,079 with at least 44 deaths tracked locally since early March.

Eaton County tracked three new cases. Ingham County tracked one new case. 

Michigan tracked at least another 304 coronavirus cases statewide this afternoon with another 17 virus-related deaths, pushing the case count past 58,000 with more than 5,500 reported dead. About two-thirds of cases, or 38,099 patients, have tracked a full recovery from the virus.

Ingham County                     

Cases — 746 (+1)

Recovered Cases — 423

Recovery Rate — 56.7%

Deaths — 27 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 3.6%

As of yesterday, zip code 48911 tracks 221-230 cases. Zip code 48910 tracks 91-100 cases. Zip code 48823 tracks 71-80 cases. Zip code 48854 and 48906 tracks 51-60 cases. Zip code 48864 tracks 41-50 cases. Zip codes 48842 and 48912 each track 31-40 cases. Zip code 48915 tracks 21-30 cases. Zip codes 48917, 48840, and 48895 each track 11-20 cases. Zip codes 48285, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 10 cases or fewer.

Eaton County                 

Cases — 192 (+3)

Recovered Cases — 166

Recovery Rate — 86.5%

Deaths — 6 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 3.1%

Clinton County                                                                                                                   

Cases — 141 (No change)

Deaths — 11 (No change)

Fatality Rate — 7.8%

The Mid-Michigan County Health Department does not report recovery statistics.                   

Michigan                        

Cases — 58,035 (+304)

Recoveries — 38,099 (as of 5/29/20)                

Recovery Rate — 65.6%

Deaths — 5,570 (+17)

Fatality Rate — 9.6%

U.S.                  

Cases — 1,841,629

Deaths — 106,696

Fatality Rate — 5.8%

Source: CNN

Michigan, as of today, now reports the ninth most cases in the country, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas and Florida. Michigan ranks in fifth in virus-related deaths, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

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