State Health Dept. Issues Mask, Other Virus Restrictions
October 6, 2020
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a 75-year-old emergency powers law that underpinned Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to control the pandemic, state and local health authorities are still emphasizing various safety measures.
On Monday, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services issued a mask requirement as well as limitations on the size of gatherings. Director Robert Gordon said the series of public health orders were lawful under the Michigan Supreme Court's recent decision. He added that the “science is clear wearing a mask can reduce the chance of transmitting COVID by 70%."
The order requires businesses and government offices to enforce mask-wearing at gatherings on their premises as well as in schools, with the exception of Michigan Economic Recovery Council Region 6, which includes Traverse City.
Locally, the Livingston County Health Department says it will not, for now, join with the Oakland and Ingham County health departments, which issued county-specific mask mandates. Director Dianne McCormick told WHMI that they are waiting for “additional details, guidance and information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Governor’s office in the coming days.” McCormick said the local health department remains focused on public health efforts to encourage testing, case investigation and contact tracing, and promote compliance with safety precautions. “Livingston County residents and businesses has done a great job in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and encourage the residents to stay the course with COVID-19 prevention measures including wearing masks in public.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Whitmer on Monday asked the Supreme Court to declare its ruling not binding until Oct. 30, to give her administration, the Republican-led Legislature and local health departments time to put alternative measures in place. The ruling nullified all virus-related orders issued after April 30. It means Whitmer must negotiate with lawmakers to extend a state of emergency and any new orders she writes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.