Macomb County Health Dept. supportive of state’s three-week restrictions

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published November 18, 2020

Image provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

MACOMB COUNTY — On Nov. 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a new emergency order enacting a three-week “pause” of indoor gatherings and other social activities to try to curb increasing positive COVID-19 cases statewide.

The order, which went into effect Nov. 18, states that high schools and colleges and universities must abstain from in-person learning. Work must be done remotely if applicable. Restaurants and bars can not allow indoor dining, only utilizing outdoor dining and takeout orders.

Gyms remain open, but only for individual exercise and not group activities. Casinos and movie theaters are closed. Organized sports must stop, except at the professional and college levels which the state says meet “extraordinary standards for risk mitigation.”

Elementary and middle schools are less prone to outbreaks, studies show, and allows school districts to continue in-person K-8 learning if accompanied by mask requirements. The use of masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines remain a top method to keep rates low.

“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Nov. 15. “Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing. If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus."

It is not a blanket stay-home order as was enacted in the spring, allowing work like manufacturing, construction and health occupations to continue as usual. Outdoor gatherings are still allowed, as well as retail shopping, public transit and personal care services like salons and barbershops.

“Indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon in a Nov. 15 statement. “The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act. By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives.”

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel did not comment on the state order, instead deferring to the Macomb County Health Department and its director, William Ridella.

“Given the significant increase in positive cases in Macomb County and the state of Michigan, the Macomb County Health Department supports the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Epidemic Order,” Ridella said in a statement. “As in the past, we’ll be working in collaboration with state and local entities to promote compliance with the order.

“In addition, we need the community to avoid large gatherings, wear a face covering, maintain social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. And finally, be mindful of the MDHHS recommendation to limit the size of your Thanksgiving Day gatherings to no more than 10 people from no more than two households, and to look for new and creative ways to celebrate this holiday. Everyone has a personal responsibility in keeping our communities safe and healthy.”