Category Archives: COVID-19 coronavirus

The Huron Hub’s current coverage of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Indoor dining in Michigan reopens Feb. 1


The Huron Hub | Posted Friday, Jan. 22, 2020Michigan COVID update

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released an order today reopening indoor dining begenning Monday, Feb. 1.

The order will allow for indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements; concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums; personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households.

The new order will last three weeks, until Sunday, Feb. 21.

“The pause has worked. The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives. Now, we are confident that starting February 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Michigan continues to be a national leader in fighting this virus, and we must continue working to keep it that way. One of the most important things Michiganders can do is to make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine when it’s available to you. And as always, mask up and maintain six feet of social distancing. We will end this pandemic together.”

“We are pleased to see the improvements in case rates, hospitalizations and percent positivity that have allowed us to reopen more activities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “However, we must remain vigilant, especially since we now have a new more easily transmitted variant of this virus present in our state. This is not the time to let our guard down and Michiganders should minimize their risk by avoiding gatherings, wearing masks properly, social distancing and making a plan to get their vaccine when it is their turn.”

MDHHS says it has been closely monitoring three metrics for stabilization or declines over the past several weeks.

Michigan continues to see improvements in these metrics which has allowed for additional relaxing of protocols and reopening of activities. In recent days:

• Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in seven-week decline, with current capacity at 9.9% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
• Overall case rates: Currently at 225 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14, plateaued after a decline to 239 on Friday, Dec. 25 and has been in decline for 11 days.
• Positivity rate: currently at 6.8% and declining.

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people.

Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules.

Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m., and contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.

“Today’s announcement is possible because of our progress over the last two months,” said Robert Gordon, MDHHS director. “Even so, the science is clear that unmasked, indoor activities like dining and drinking are still a source of high risk around COVID-19. The safest course remains to support your favorite restaurant with carryout, delivery or outdoor dining. If individuals choose to eat out, there are two things they can do to make it much safer: go out only with members of their own household and choose a restaurant participating in the MI COVID-19 Safer Dining certification program.”

The voluntary MI COVID-19 Safer Dining program allows food service establishments to become certified by having their ventilation system inspected and submitting their inspection report to the state indicating they are optimizing airflow. Once certified, businesses will be featured on the Michigan.gov/covidsaferdining website and receive a copy of their certification to post at their establishment to alert diners of their participation.

Funding is proposed for food service establishments to participate as part of the $10 million included in the recent supplemental budget request for restaurant supports administered by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Two webinars will be hosted on Monday, Jan. 25 to provide additional information about the Safer Dining certification program – one at noon for HVAC contractors interested in conducting inspections and one at 3 p.m. for food service establishments interested in becoming certified. More information will be available at Michigan.gov/covidsaferdining.

Indoor residential and non-residential gatherings are limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department.

Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones, and are also encoured to wear masks in public.


First case of new COVID-19 variant identified in Michigan


Posted by The Huron Hub — Jan. 16, 2021

The first Michigan case of new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7. was identified in an adult female living in Washtenaw County by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Bureau of Laboratories today.

The person recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where this variant originated. Close contacts of this individual have been identified and are in quarantine. At this time two new cases have been identified from close contacts with the person, but it is not known if they are infected with the variant.

B.1.1.7. is believed to be more contagious, but there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for months.

However, a higher rate of transmission could increase the number of people who need to be hospitalized or who lose their lives to COVID-19 should the new variant begin circulating widely in Michigan, health officials said.

To date, the virus has been identified in at least 16 other states and jurisdictions in the U.S.

This is the only known case in Michigan at this time, however it is possible that there are more that have not been identified.

“The discovery of this variant in Michigan is concerning, but not unexpected,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible. We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn.”

Based on available evidence, current tests and vaccines for COVID-19 also work against this new variant.

Protective actions that prevent the spread of COVID-19 will also prevent the spread of the new variant, B.1.1.7. Michiganders should:

• Get vaccinated for COVID-19.
• Wear a mask around others.
• Stay 6 feet apart from others.
• Wash hands often.
• Ventilate indoor spaces.

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. MDHHS’s Bureau of Laboratories is a national leader in whole genome sequencing for SARS CoV2.

MDHHS identified the variant in this individual’s sample and will continue to conduct whole genome sequencing to quickly identify any variants of interest, including B.1.1.7.

Whole genome sequencing allows scientists to examine the genetic material of pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2. Over the past 10 months, laboratories across Michigan have been submitting samples to the state public health laboratory for surveillance to help monitor the emergence of any variants of concern.

MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories prioritizes additional specimens for whole genome sequencing when there is increased concern for a new variant of the virus, such as in people with a travel history to places where the variant is known to be circulating.


Michigan reopens certain sectors of the economy; points to Feb. 1 for indoor dining


Posted by The Huron Hub
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021

–Gatherings remain limited, group exercise and non-contact sports now open 

–State  says “working plan” is to open indoor dining with mitigation measures, capacity limits and a curfew on Feb. 1

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order today to allow re-opening of additional activities where Michiganders can remain masked and socially distanced.

This includes indoor group exercise and non-contact sports.

The new order is effective Saturday, Jan. 16 and will last until Sunday, Jan. 31.

“The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and small business owners are working. While there has been a slight uptick in our percent positivity rate, our cases per million have plateaued and more hospital beds are becoming available. Today, we are confident that MDHHS can lift some of the protocols that were previously in place,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Michigan is once again standing out as a nationwide leader in fighting this virus, and we must continue working to keep it that way. One of the most important things Michiganders can do is to make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine when it’s available to you. And as always, mask up and maintain six feet of social distancing. We will end this pandemic together.”

Previously, MDHHS had identified stabilization or declines in three metrics as critical for relaxing protocols.

“We continue to make progress in our fight against this virus, and expanding vaccination to healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff, some essential frontline workers and those age 65 and older is bringing us closer to ending the pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “It is important that everyone continues to do their part by avoiding gatherings, wearing masks properly and social distancing. This remains just as important, even as the safe and effective vaccine is being administered, to protect those who are not yet able to be vaccinated.”

Although Michigan saw improvements across all three following the “pause” implemented in mid-November, some numbers have plateaued or begun to increase in recent days:

-Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in 13-day decline, with current capacity is at 12% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
-Overall case rates: increasing, currently at 266 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14 and declined to a low of 239 on Friday, Dec. 25
-Positivity rate: plateauing; currently at 9.1% after reaching a low of 8.1% on Monday, Dec. 28 and increasing up to 10% since then.

“We are reopening cautiously because caution is working to save lives. The new order allows group exercise and non-contact sports, always with masks and social distancing, because in the winter it’s not as easy to get out and exercise and physical activity is important for physical and mental health,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “We are glad that we made it through the holidays without a big increase in numbers, but there are also worrying signs in the new numbers. We need to remain focused and continue to see declines in hospitalizations and to bring case rates and percent positivity down by doing what we know works.”

Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department.

Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery.

The working plan is to open indoor dining with mitigation measures, capacity limits and a curfew on Feb. 1, but the ultimate decision depends on data continuing to stabilize. Additional details on the reopening pathway are expected next week.

Colleges and universities can have students return to campus for the winter semester and restart in-person courses as of Jan. 18.

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; andpersonal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment.


 

Whitmer to host 1:30 p.m. live stream Wednesday on coronavirus in Michigan


The Huron Hub
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021
10:15 AM EDT

Gov. Whitmer will host a 1:30 p.m. live streaming update Wednesday afternoon on Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Whitmer will be joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The live stream will be broadcast on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter pages and on local TV news networks.


Whitmer signs $106 million bipartisan relief bill, extends unemployment benefits to 26 Weeks

Photo courtesy state of Michigan


Posted by The Huron Hub
Dec. 29, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan relief bill today designed to support Michigan families, frontline workers, and small businesses.

The relief bill passed by the Michigan legislature includes $55 million to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to small businesses across the state that need support this winter. The relief bill also includes $3.5 million for grants of up to $40,000 each for live music and entertainment venues, and includes $45 million in direct payments to workers who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the virus.

“I proposed this stimulus plan to the legislature in November because I know how much our families, frontline workers, and small businesses need relief. This bipartisan bill will provide families and businesses the support they need to stay afloat as we continue working to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and eliminate COVID-19 once and for all,” Whitmer said. “There is still more work to do to eliminate this virus and grow our economy. All Michiganders have a personal responsibility to do their part and mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can easily spread from person to person. We will beat this virus together.”

The governor also signed bipartisan Senate Bill 604 extending unemployment benefits for Michiganders who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic from 20 to 26 weeks until the end of March 2021.

Senate Bill 604 was sponsored by Senator Curtis Hertel.

“No Michigander should have to worry about how to put food on the table or pay their bills, especially during a global pandemic,” said Whitmer. “These bipartisan bills are an important step in providing immediate relief for working families, but there is more work to do. I urge the legislature to take further action to make this permanent. 40 states, including all of our neighbors, automatically provide at least 26 weeks of unemployment relief. Michiganders deserve better than a short-term extension that expires in March. It’s time to work together on a bipartisan, long-term solution for working families.”

Since March 15, Governor Whitmer’s administration has paid nearly $27 billion in benefits to nearly 2.3 million workers.

When she signed the bipartisan relief bill, Governor Whitmer line item vetoed items not subject to negotiated agreement.

That includes a $220 million giveaway of taxpayer money to the employer-owned Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund – a pool of funds designed to help businesses fund benefits for laid off workers.

“General fund dollars must be used to fund essential services like vaccines and PPE, not to give tax breaks to big businesses,” Whitmer said.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency has also provided more than $900 million in tax breaks to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Today, Whitmer urged the legislature to return to work in January and pass a permanent extension of unemployment benefits and an increase in weekly benefits that provide unemployed Michiganders support during the pandemic.

On Sunday, President Trump signed a COVID relief bill that provides some support for Michigan’s unemployed workers.

This bill extends benefits to self-employed and gig workers and provides all unemployment recipients with an additional $300 per week.

This extension will bring relief to nearly 700,000 Michigan workers who are currently receiving benefits under the federal UI programs.

The continuation of these benefits with the additional $300 per week for all claimants will provide workers with the emergency financial assistance to buy essential items.


 

Michigan begins re-opening of high schools, indoor entertainment


Posted by The Huron Hub

Dec. 18, 2020

–MDHHS begins re-opening of high schools and

indoor entertainment

–Gatherings remain limited, but high schools, casinos, bowling alleys, theaters can reopen

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order today to allow some indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked.

Health officials say wearing masks has been scientifically shown to slow COVID-19.

This includes in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues.

Casinos, bowling centers and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with total capacity capped at 100; food and drink concessions closed; and social distancing requirements in place.

The new order is effective Monday, Dec. 21 and will last until Friday, Jan. 15.

“These past few weeks, Michiganders across the state stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, and because of our collective hard work, we are now able to begin the steps to carefully lift some of the protocols we have in place,” Whitmer said. “I am encouraged by the progress we have made since early November, and will continue to monitor the data closely during and after the holidays. One of the most important things Michiganders can do right now is make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eradicate this virus together.”

“We have made some progress in our fight against this pandemic, and this was a historical week as we started to distribute life-saving vaccines,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “It is important that everyone continues to do their part. Start planning for when you will get a vaccine when it is available to you, and let’s avoid a surge in cases after the holidays by avoiding gatherings, wearing our masks, and continuing to socially distance.”

Previously, MDHHS had identified stabilization or declines in three metrics as critical for relaxing protocols. Michigan saw improvements across all three following the “pause” implemented in mid- November:

• Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients:13-day decline; current capacity is at 17.3% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 20.1% on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

• Overall case rates: 27-day decline; currently at 439 cases per million. Peaked at 739 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14.

• Positivity rate: 11-day decline; currently at 10.6% positive tests. Recently peaked at 14.3% on Friday, Dec. 4.

Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households.

MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department.

Families are encouraged to stay home this holiday season to maintain the positive momentum that has developed and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using new guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery. Colleges and universities will be able to have students return to campus for the winter semester, with a voluntary commitment to wait until Jan. 18 to restart in-person courses.

Gyms remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Outdoor group fitness and outdoor non-contact sports will again be allowed, including running, downhill and cross-country skiing.

Under this new order, reopened indoor entertainment venues will not be required to collect names and contact information. With the amount of community spread that currently exists across the state and the heavy burden on contact tracing teams to keep up with these cases, it has become too challenging to meaningfully use this data for timely follow up. As case counts fall and contact tracing becomes able to keep up with the volume again, MDHHS expects to reinstate this information-gathering requirement.

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so.

Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal- care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.


Current pandemic restrictions extended 12 days to ‘determine full impact of Thanksgiving holiday’


Posted Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 — 3:00 PM EST
THE HURON HUB

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has extended the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities by 12 days.

“The additional 12 days will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan,” a statement from MDHHS said.

Under the order, MDHHS urges families to avoid indoor gatherings, and only two households may gather inside, with strict protocols recommended.

Individuals should wear masks consistently whenever they are inside with individuals not in their household, and are recommended to pick only a small group to see regularly.

Bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service, but can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. Gyms are open for individual exercise with mandatory masking and additional strict safety measures.

Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes remain closed.

Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators. Colleges, universities and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes.

“Hope is on the horizon, but we need an additional 12 days to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “This is all about protecting our families and frontline workers until we eradicate this virus once and for all. With recent daily case counts averaging well above 6,000, the daily death toll at alarming levels and the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed, we must work together as Michiganders and listen to our health experts. This may be the most difficult time yet in our struggle with COVID-19, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

The order will keep existing measures in place through Dec. 20 and does not include a blanket stay-home action, according to Whitmer.

Employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, including those in manufacturing, construction and health occupations.

Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open.

Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

MDHHS also identified three key metrics that will be utilized in determining whether to slowly reopen at the end of the 12 days. S

Specifically, the department will be looking closely at the percentage of hospital beds with COVID patients, the number of COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate.

With improvements in those numbers in context, MDHHS says it will carefully reopen, with in-person learning at high schools first.

“Next in line will be entertainment venues where people can maintain consistent masking, such as casinos, theaters and bowling, with concessions closed,” MDHHS said.

Before Thanksgiving, Gov. Whitmer sent a letter to the Michigan Legislature seeking their support and asking them to pass a COVID relief package to help families and businesses across the state, which included a permanent extension of unemployment benefits.

She has also called for the Legislature to pass bills to require masks in public.

Last week, the State Budget Office sent the Appropriations Chairs in the Legislature an additional request to provide supplemental funding in the current budget for additional COVID response needs for testing, contact tracing, PPE, hospital staffing, support for nursing homes and veterans homes and funding to quickly begin distributing vaccines to our highest risk residents as soon as the vaccine becomes available.


Advertisement

Whitmer to host 2:30 p.m. press conference Monday on coronavirus response


The Huron Hub
Posted Monday, Dec. 7, 2020
11:15 AM EDT

Gov. Whitmer will host a 2:30 p.m. live streaming update Monday afternoon on Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Whitmer will be joined by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Robert Gordon, MDHHS director.

The live stream will be broadcast on the governor’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


MDHHS updates guidance on COVID-19 quarantine period based on new CDC findings


Posted by The Huron Hub
Friday, Dec. 4, 2020

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has updated guidance on COVID-19 quarantine periods based on scientific findings released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

The CDC presented findings describing options to reduce the required number of quarantine days for individuals with known exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case. The existing 14-day recommendation was based on earlier data that estimated the COVID-19 incubation period. At the national level, estimates of the COVID-19 incubation period have been refined based on a review of case data for hundreds of thousands of cases.

Data from that assessment indicates that 99% of all infections will develop within 10 days of exposure. While a 14-day quarantine period is still standard, under certain conditions the CDC has presented an option for reducing the quarantine period for exposed individuals to 10 days after exposure.

Based on the evaluation of the CDC information, MDHHS is updating guidance to allow modifications to the quarantine period for Michigan residents in specific situations. While the standard 14-day quarantine period remains, it can be reduced to 10 days if the following two conditions exist:

• The individual does not develop any symptoms or clinical evidence of COVID-19 infection during daily symptom monitoring for the 10 days after the last exposure.
• Daily symptom monitoring continues through day 14 after the last exposure.

“We are basing this recommendation on scientific data from CDC and offering the opportunity to reduce the quarantine period to 10 days in certain circumstances,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Public health officials can still require the 14-day period as this option most greatly mitigates the possibility of transmission. We strongly urge the continued use of masks, social distancing and hand washing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

With consideration for existing and potential limitations on the availability of testing resources and concerns of increased turnaround time for lab results, MDHHS is currently reviewing options for further reduction of quarantine periods based on diagnostic testing results. MDHHS guidance may be updated at a later date based on that review.

Article source: state of Michigan


Huron School District suspends in-person learning through Jan. 15

Advertisement


Posted by Scott Bolthouse
The Huron Hub
Dec. 2, 2020

The Huron School District announced Tuesday that in-person learning for all grades will be suspended through Jan. 15.

The district was already on a two-week pause when the decision was made this week to continue the suspension of face-to-face classes.

Donovan Rowe, superintendent of Huron School District, explained the decision in a letter to parents posted Tuesday.

Letter summary:

-Huron School District is suspending face-to-face instruction for all students (K-12) through Jan. 15, 2021.

-Students will be working remotely during this time and will be scheduled to return to in-person instruction on January 19, 2021.

-Recently, the Wayne County Health Department issued a Public Health Advisory pertaining to school districts in Wayne County. This advisory has a direct impact on schools and instructional programming.

-Advisory outlines direction from Wayne County Health Department to all Wayne County school districts to temporarily shift to a remote learning model through Jan, 15, 2021.

-Wayne County Public Health Director calls for the suspension of extra-curricular sports and related school sponsored gatherings during this time.

-During online learning, students will continue to learn remotely 5 days per week, with synchronous instruction every day.

-District Food Service will be continuing their pick-up service model; Pick-up will take place on Mondays and Thursdays.

You can read the superintendent’s full letter by visiting this link




Support local journalism: If you’ve valued The Huron Hub’s consistent local news coverage during this pandemic, please consider supporting us.