Macomb County emergency declaration likely won’t be extended

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published June 19, 2020

 Prior to the Macomb County Board of Commissioners June 25 meeting, all indications pointed toward the county state of emergency not being extended. The declaration has been in effect since March 13.

Prior to the Macomb County Board of Commissioners June 25 meeting, all indications pointed toward the county state of emergency not being extended. The declaration has been in effect since March 13.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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MACOMB COUNTY — Over the last several weeks, Macomb County has seen encouraging news in the number of new COVID-19 cases.

As of June 15, 6,886 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Macomb County, with 852 confirmed deaths. Data from the state of Michigan indicates that 32 news cases were reported in Macomb County the week of June 8. That’s compared to when 1,275 new cases were filed the week of March 30.

The reduced number of cases led Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel earlier this month to announce that he would not seek an extension of Macomb County’s state of emergency, a declaration which has been in place since March 13.

The Macomb County Board of Commissioners was expected to consider the issue at its June 25 meeting, held after press time.

“When the pandemic came our way, we immediately enacted emergency orders,” Hackel said. “Over the last month or so, we’ve seen the numbers decrease.”

Hackel said that at one point, almost 50% of Macomb County residents who were tested for the virus were positive.

“Now, it’s less than 3%,” he said. “Our health department has done a great job and with contact tracing. We’re going to keep in place, so a lot of the work will still be done behind the scenes, but to say it’s still a state of emergency, I think it’s more of a state of concern.”

In mid-April, the board voted to renew and extend the local emergency declaration through May 22. Then on May 21, it was extended to June 26.

Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet, who represents District 13, which includes most of Macomb Township, agrees that it shouldn’t be extended.

“People are adults and are perfectly capable of making their own decision if they want to go in a restaurant or not, or how they want to get their groceries,” he said. “They’re capable of taking precautions and need to trust people to make educated decisions about their own health.”

Drolet said the value of having a state of emergency was that the county became eligible for federal dollars. Macomb County received approximately $152 million in CARES Act funding.

“That’s equivalent to 55% of our general fund budget,” Drolet said. “A good chunk of it will be distributed to businesses.”

Pending a reversal in COVID-19 cases trending downward, Hackel did not ask the Macomb County Board of Commissioners to extend the emergency.

“Everyone in the community has worked extremely hard to flatten the curve of this pandemic,” Hackel said. “It has been an exemplary response. But we have to remember that flattening the curve does not mean that the virus has gone away. Safeguards must remain in place in order to avoid a second wave.”

On June 8, the county reported that the seven day average of reported COVID-19 cases peaked in Macomb County the first week of April, when 46% of residents tested showed positive results.                   

“This pandemic has been a generational tragedy,” Hackel said. “But it has also produced countless heroes. From health care professionals and first responders, to parents educating their children and citizens strictly following public health orders, there is plenty of credit to go around.”

The emergency declaration activated response and recovery elements of the county’s emergency operations plan, and directed county resources to be utilized to the fullest extent.

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