Category Archives: Government

Preparing for the heat: Here is a list of cooling centers in Wayne County


Posted by The Huron Hub on Tuesday, July 7, 2020


With extreme heat forecasted this week, Wayne County has compiled a list of cooling centers in local communities.

Click here for a list of cooling centers across Wayne County.

More information on the upcoming dangerous hot weather:

Heat advisory issued for southeast Michigan; heat index of 100 degrees forecasted


 

Whitmer signs order closing indoor service at bars throughout much of lower Michigan to protect progress against COVID-19


Posted by The Huron Hub, July 1, 2020

State of Michigan press release

Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Closing Indoor Service at Bars Throughout Much of Lower Michigan to Protect Progress Against COVID-19
Governor also signs bills allowing cocktails-to-go at bars and restaurants

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-143 closing indoor service at bars throughout most of lower Michigan to protect the progress Michigan has made against COVID-19. Regions 6 and 8, which include the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan, are excluded from the order, and bars statewide can continue to serve outdoors. The governor also signed a package of bills allowing cocktails-to-go at bars and restaurants to help these businesses serve more Michiganders during this time.

“We owe it to our front line heroes who have sacrificed so much during this crisis to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of a resurgence like we are seeing in other states,” said Governor Whitmer. “Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe. If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall, then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.”

Over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo regions. Nearly 25% of diagnoses in June were of people ages 20 to 29, up from roughly 16% in May. That shift aligns with national trends, and the evidence suggests that young people may be driving a new phase of the pandemic.

As bars have reopened for indoor service across the country, some have been linked to a growing number of large outbreaks. In Michigan, for example, health officials in Ingham County have linked 107 confirmed COVID-19 cases to an outbreak in a single bar in East Lansing. Similar super-spreader events have been documented in bars in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and elsewhere.

Bars are often crowded, indoors and poorly ventilated — all of which make it easy to spread COVID-19 from person to person. Bars also encourage mingling among groups and facilitate close contact over an extended period of time. They are noisy, requiring raised voices and allowing for more projection of viral droplets. And they serve alcohol, which reduces inhibitions and decreases compliance with mask use and physical distancing rules.

“I urge all Michiganders to double down on mitigation tactics like wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and washing hands, so we can get our trajectory headed in the right direction again,” said Governor Whitmer. “If we open up our economy too quickly, the efforts of the last three months will be for nothing and we will have to go through this pain all over again and put our economy, health and medical system at risk. Nobody wants to move backward. Everyone, please do your part, and let’s show the nation and the world how smart we are.”

The governor’s order applies to establishments with on-premises retailer liquor licenses that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales. That means that most brewpubs, distilleries, and vineyards can stay open indoors. Traditional bars, nightclubs, and strip clubs will have to end indoor service.

Governor Whitmer today also signed Senate Bill 942 and House Bills 5781 and 5811 into law, which allow bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go and expand social districts to allow for more outdoor seating and areas for people to safely congregate while practicing physical distancing.

“Bars will not have to close down completely, but may still offer outdoor seating and use creative methods like cocktails-to-go in hopes that we can bring our numbers down,” Governor Whitmer said. “I am hopeful providing options for cocktails-to-go and expanded social districts will ensure these businesses can remain open and Michiganders can safely and responsibly enjoy their summer outdoors.”

To view Executive Order 2020-143, which takes effect at 11 p.m. tonight, click this link: EO 2020-143.pdf


Statewide plan to fund grade separations at troublesome railroad crossings passes MI House

In Huron Township, blocked railroad crossings, like this one seen here at Sibley Road, are common occurrences. Crossings in Huron can sometimes be blocked for over an hour at a time, posing an obvious safety risk to the community. (Huron Hub file photo)


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 24, 2020

Relief is in sight for some of the area’s frequently blocked railroad crossings.

Today, House Bill 5861 passed, which is a bipartisan effort between State Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown) and Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance).

The bill, according to Camilleri and Sheppard, helps solve some of Michigan’s most critical transportation issues by setting up a statewide fund within the Michigan Department of Transportation to build grade separations at the most troublesome rail crossings in the state.

Inspired by a successful program in Indiana, the program would allow municipalities to apply for state funding and would put up 20 percent of the cost while the state would supply the other 80 percent from the local grade separation fund for approved priority projects.

“Solving the issue at Allen Road in Woodhaven was a huge victory for our Downriver community, but the fact of the matter is there are so many other crossings like Allen Road across our region and our state, including issues in New Boston and Trenton,” said Camilleri, who helped negotiate the funding for the Allen Road underpass in Woodhaven. “By creating this statewide grade separation fund, we will make our communities safer, provide easier routes to schools and hospitals, and unlock economic opportunity for our region.”

Sheppard said Michigan highways have more than 4,000 rail crossings that increase traffic congestion, cause frustration for residents and delay first responders en route to emergencies. This program would pave the way for future projects to separate the crossings and improve the flow of traffic.

“This is about public safety,” Sheppard said. “Every second matters when police, fire and ambulance personnel are responding to an emergency. Lives are quite literally at risk when first responders get hung up by a train blocking the road on their way to a call. Rail grade separations improve public safety by routing the roadway over or under the rail line, eliminating delays.”

House Bill 5861 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.


 

Whitmer extends Michigan state of emergency through July 16 amid coronavirus


The Huron Hub
Posted Friday, June 19, 2020

Governor Whitmer on Thursday extended the state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic through July 16.

Whitmer joined nearly every state in the country in maintaining a state of emergency to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state of emergency allows Whitmer to put orders in place and take actions unilaterally.

It is not the same as the stay-at-home order, which was recently lifted.

The order will allow her to continue taking action to protect Michigan families and workers, the governor said.

“The aggressive measures we took at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have worked to flatten the curve, but there is still more to be done to prevent a second wave,” Governor Whitmer said. “We owe it to the heroes on the front lines to keep doing our part by wearing a mask when in public and practicing social distancing. Now is not the time to get complacent. We must continue to stay vigilant and flexible in order to reduce the chance of a second wave.”

Whitmer said a recent report released by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team shows the aggressive actions taken to protect Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19 have significantly lowered the number of cases and deaths that would have occurred had the state done nothing.

Without intervention, Michigan might have experienced 28,000 more positive cases before June 1, the report stated.

“The data backs it up: The Stay Home, Stay Safe Order undeniably saved lives,” Governor Whitmer said. “Very few states dropped their infection rate as low and for as long as Michigan has, and I want thank everyone who stepped up to do their part to protect our communities.”

With the reduction in COVID-19 case counts, Whitmer has relaxed restrictions over the last several weeks on business activities and daily life.

On June 1, she announced that most of the state would move to Phase 4 of the governor’s Start plan, allowing retailers and restaurants to resume operations. Hair salons and other personal care services followed two weeks later.

On June 10, the Upper Peninsula and the region surrounding Traverse City were moved to Phase 5 allowing for the reopening of movie theaters, gyms and bowling alleys. If current trends continue the rest of the state will be moved to Phase 5 by July 4.


 

Whitmer announces steps for school reopening in the fall

1


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 17, 2020

Governor Whitmer announced Wednesday that Michigan schools may resume in-person learning in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start plan.

Schools in the state will have to follow strict safety measures for in-person learning.

A statement from Whitmer also announced that on June 30, she will release an executive order and document called “Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap” that will provide details on what will be required and what will be recommended for schools.

Whitmer said the need for support and flexibility from the federal government will help ensure resources for students and educators.

“Our students and educators have made incredible sacrifices these past few months to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “Thanks to our aggressive action against this virus, those who have done their part to flatten the curve, and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall. Schools must make sure to enact strict safety measures to continue protecting educators, students, and their families. I will continue working closely with the Return to Learn Advisory Council and leaders in health care to ensure we get this right, but we also need more flexibility and support from the federal government. This crisis has had serious implications on our budget, and we need federal support if we’re going to get this right for our kids.”

The Return to School plan will align closely with the MI Safe Start Plan, she said.

Whitmer said districts, students, staff, and families must be nimble and be prepared to move backwards if there is evidence of community spread of the virus.

“The most important thing we can do when developing a return to school plan is closely examine the data and remain vigilant in our steps to fight this virus,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “I will continue to work closely with Governor Whitmer and the Return to Learn Advisory Council to ensure we continue to put the health and safety of our students and educators first. This is a big step, and we will remain flexible to protect everyone who steps foot in a Michigan school.”

The Roadmap will set the minimum health and safety requirements, although districts may choose to enact more aggressive ones in consultation with local public health officials.

These minimum requirements will apply to all schools, including traditional public, charter, private, and parochial schools.

On May 15, Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2020-88 creating the COVID-19 Return to School Advisory Council.

“The Advisory Council was created to identify the critical issues that must be addressed, provide valuable input to inform the process of returning to school, and to ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school. The Council will act in an advisory capacity to the Governor and the COVID-19 Task Force on Education, and will develop and submit recommendations to the COVID-19 Task Force on Education regarding the safe, equitable, and efficient K-12 return to school in the Fall,” a statement from Whitmer said.

Related: Here is an end of school year update from Huron School District superintendent 


 

Whitmer signs bill into law allowing roadside drug testing for controlled substances

(MSP file photo)

Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 12, 2020

Governor Whitmer on Thursday signed Senate Bill 718 into law, amending the Michigan Vehicle Code to allow for roadside drug testing for controlled substances.

The bill establishes a one-year pilot program of roadside drug testing in five counties to be selected by the Michigan State Police.

The Michigan State Police also received authorization to conduct a second one-year pilot program involving more counties at the conclusion of the original one-year pilot program.

MSP subsequently expanded the pilot program to all 83 counties in the State. SB 718 was sponsored by Senator Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford.

Related: Michigan State Police launch second phase of oral roadside drug testing pilot program


 

Michigan drivers now have a choice in amount of personal injury protection medical coverage


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| June 9, 2020

Under a new auto insurance law, Michigan drivers will now have a choice in the amount of personal injury protection (PIP) medical coverage they purchase on policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2020.

PIP medical coverage pays allowable expenses for medical care, recovery, rehabilitation, and some funeral expenses, and typically represents almost half of an individual driver’s premium.

Michigan is the only state where unlimited PIP medical continues to be an option.

“This is a time when Michiganders need to see rate relief, and I am pleased that these reforms will result in savings even greater than the law’s requirements,” Gov. Whitmer said in a statement. “It’s important that drivers talk to their insurance agents or attend upcoming town halls to make sure they understand the changes coming this summer so they can make the best choices for their families and budgets.”

According to the state of Michigan, aggregated data shows that the average statewide PIP medical reductions exceed the statutory requirements, which use the average statewide rates on May 1, 2019 as the baseline. (Images are courtesy state of Michigan)
 
2

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services says it contracted with outside independent analysts to review all filed rates to confirm compliance with the law.

DIFS rejected PIP filings that used any rating factors not permitted under the new law, such as sex, marital status, home ownership, or zip code, and required companies to resubmit filings with the prohibited factors removed, the department said.

In total, DIFS said it approved 321 personal and commercial auto filings related to the law change.

3

“DIFS has worked hard in extraordinary circumstances to review and approve auto insurance rates so that drivers can see the benefit of this law starting this summer,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “We are also working to educate Michiganders so they can be ready to review and make decisions about their policies and ultimately save money.”

Auto insurance premiums are individual to each consumer and may vary on driving record, miles driven, coverages selected, and other factors.

Informative resources, instructional videos and a schedule of virtual town hall events are available for drivers to learn more about the new law at Michigan.gov/autoinsurance.


 

Secretary of State branches to reopen June 1 by appointment only

 


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| May 26, 2020

Secretary of State branch offices will reopen June 1 by appointment only for essential transactions not available online in order to continue to balance the need to provide critical services and protect public health.

“While the offices were closed to the public we conducted more than 3,000 emergency appointments for essential workers and planned and implemented protocols so that we could reopen in a way that ensures the safety of employees and all Michiganders,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Customers can be confident they’ll be able to conduct their business with us safely and efficiently.”

Beginning the week of June 1, all 131 branch offices in Michigan will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for appointment only services for transactions including:

-Driver licenses and state ID transactions that must be done in person
-Title transfers
-Operator, CDL, chauffeur, mechanic and motorcycle testing
-Seasonal commercial vehicle renewal
-Branch staff will follow strict health and safety protocols, including wearing masks, standing six feet apart, using desk shields, and continuously disinfecting shared or common surfaces. -Branch doors will be locked, and each branch will have a greeter to let customers with appointments in at scheduled appointment times. A copy of the department’s reopening preparedness plan can be found here.

Anyone scheduling an appointment or receiving an appointment reminder will also be instructed on how to safely attend their appointment by:

-Arriving at the appointment alone
-Wearing a mask or homemade face covering over their mouth and nose
-Waiting in their vehicle or outside prior to the appointment time and maintaining six feet of distance when announcing themselves and their appointment to staff at the doors
-Following directions on where to stand during the transaction — only stepping forward toward the clerk when providing or retrieving documents
-Cancelling their appointment if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 within 14 days of the appointment
-Adhering to CDC guidelines when in public
I-n addition to preparing to reopen branches, the Michigan Department of State began sending updated renewal forms this week, color coded based on the type of transaction needed and with streamlined information to explain how best to conduct the transaction.

Renewal forms, which will be mailed in redesigned envelopes measuring 9.5 inches by 6 inches, come in six colors:

Red: Vehicle registration
Blue: Driver’s license
Green: State identification card
Teal: Watercraft
Gray: Snowmobile
Purple: Special plate
Instructions are provided at the bottom of each form to direct customers on options for renewing their credential, providing information on whether they can complete their transaction online, at a self-service station or by mail, or if they will need to schedule an appointment at a branch office.

A sample of the updated renewal forms can be found here. To schedule an appointment visit Michigan.gov/SOS or call 888-SOS-MICH. Advance appointments can be made up to 180 days ahead of time. Same-day appointments become available 24 hours prior to the appointment time.


 

New Michigan website provides COVID-19 risk and trend data

Seen here is a May 26, 2020 screen shot of the new MI Start Map website launched by the state of Michigan.


Posted by Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub| May 26, 2020

A new online dashboard launched today visually illustrates COVID-19 risks and trends in Michigan

The website provides residents with information about the pandemic status where they live and work.

You can visit the website at this link: https://www.mistartmap.info/

The website was developed through a collaboration between Michigan’s departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and Economic Opportunity, and the University of Michigan.

The dashboard data is divided into Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) regions.

“MERC regions were developed by merging Michigan’s Emergency Preparedness Regions and Michigan’s labor sheds – the major areas of the state where people live and travel to work based on U.S. Department of Labor data – so that any outbreak resulting from a return to work could be handled effectively under public health laws,” a statement from the state of Michigan said.

The COVID-19 data displayed on the dashboard represents publicly available case, death and test data analyzed to determine overall level of risk and key trends.

Graphs, numbers and trends provide a snapshot of how much virus is in a community, and whether it is increasing or decreasing.

Risk levels were developed by MDHHS and the U-M School of Public Health using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, national Guidelines for Opening America and several other leading national organizations.

“The risk levels tell us whether there is high, medium or low risk of COVID-19 spread in a community and can help highlight areas where more social distancing may be needed, or where vulnerable individuals should be particularly careful,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.

The dashboard was designed and created by faculty at U-M School of Information and School of Public Health and presents risk and capacity indicators that inform implementation of the MI Safe Start Plan.

These indicators fall into three categories: epidemic spread, health system capacity and public health capacity.

Each indicator displays a level of risk. The indicators, along with other epidemiologic information, inform the overall risk level for a region.

It also incorporates on-the-ground knowledge, such as whether new cases of COVID-19 are localized to a single outbreak or represent community-wide spread.

“The U-M team is very excited to build this dashboard for the people and State of Michigan,” said Sharon Kardia, Ph.D., associate dean at U-M School of Public Health. “This precision public health dashboard is very unique as it clearly shows everyone why some regions can open up more rapidly than others.”

In addition to the risk and capacity indicators, other considerations such as the availability of mitigation measures, the risk posed by certain activities and other economic factors also inform decisions under the MI Safe Start Plan, officials said.


You can view a special COVID-19 (coronavirus) news section on HuronHub.com by clicking on this link.

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