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Oakland County orders closure of malls, outdoor playgrounds

C&G Newspapers | Published March 21, 2020

 Flanders Park sits empty in Farmington Hills in February.

Flanders Park sits empty in Farmington Hills in February.

File photo by Jonathan Shead

The Oakland County Health Division has ordered the closure of all shopping malls and outdoor playgrounds, and even more steps are under consideration, according to a March 21 press release from the county.

The measure also requires child care centers to screen parents, children, staff and visitors daily for signs of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, which has swept the globe and enacted emergency declarations locally.  

The ban on indoor and outdoor playground equipment took immediately, according to the press release. “Playground equipment in child care centers and areas without playground equipment such as walking trails and grassy areas are exempt from the order,” states the release.

In an email, Bill Mullan, the media and communications officer for Coulter, said the ban on playground equipment will not create an "undue burden because families can still go outdoors for a walk or enjoy trails or nature. They are just asked to exercise social distancing. The median age of our 229 cases is 27, indicating that a lot of young people are carrying COVID-19. By keeping (children) off playground equipment, we limit the spread among ... children who can carry the virus to more vulnerable people such as their grandparents.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard "emphasized at the news conference that no one is going to be hauled off to jail for violating a health order," Mullan said in the email. "In most cases, individuals will be reminded of the health order and a report will be sent to the Health Division."

The order for child care center screenings runs March 23-April17. Nonessential visitors are restricted from day cares. Adults and children will be screened for symptoms of a respiratory infection — fever, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat — and must report close contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.

“The Michigan Public Health Code gives the Health Division and Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford the authority to issue emergency orders,” states the press release. 

Residents with questions should call the Heath Division’s Nurse on Call phone line at 1-800-848-5533. Residents with non-health calls should call (248) 858-1000.

The county also will also send text messages with updates on the coronavirus. Those interested should text oakgov to 28748.