Category Archives: Government

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

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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)
 
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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.

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“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.

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Whitmer extends validity of watercraft registrations

(Photo/Pexels)


Posted by The Huron Hub| May 26, 2020

Governor Whitmer signed an order May 22 extending the validity of watercraft registrations that expired after February 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

“As temperatures continue to warm up, recreational boaters should not have to worry about their watercraft registration expiring at no fault of their own,” Whitmer said. “This Executive Order will allow all watercraft users to safely take full advantage of this beautiful weather and Michigan’s pristine lakes and rivers, while minimizing in-person work in order to flatten the COVID-19 curve.”

New watercraft can be operated in Michigan waters until July 31, 2020 without displaying an identifying number and decal, provided the operator of the vessel possesses a proof of purchase or equivalent evidence that the vessel was acquired after January 1, 2020.

Additionally, law enforcement cannot issue tickets as a result of watercraft decals that expired after September 30, 2019. The state cannot assess late fees for expired decals as long as boaters renew their registration by July 31.

Boaters are asked to complete their watercraft registration renewals during the state’s emergency and disaster declarations at www.michigan.gov/sos.

“I appreciate Governor Gretchen Whitmer extending these expirations,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “It will give flexibility and peace of mind to watercraft owners across the state, and reduce in-person interactions at Secretary of State branch offices.”


 

Whitmer extends stay home order through June 12


Posted by The Huron Hub| May 22, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-100 to extend Michigan’s “Safer at Home” order until June 12.

The governor’s order also extends the temporary closure of certain places of public accommodation such as theaters, gyms, and casinos.

The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-99 to extend the state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was upheld by Judge Cynthia Stephens on May 21, 2020.

The governor says her “aggressive measures are working, but there is still more to be done. For instance, cases in some counties in Western and Mid-Michigan are now doubling approximately every 10 days.”

“To continue to protect Michigan families from both the public health and economic impacts of the virus, and to lower the chance of a second wave, the governor’s emergency declaration is extended until June 19, 2020.”

“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet. If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home,” said Governor Whitmer. “If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed.  While we finally have more protective equipment like masks, we can’t run the risk of running low again. We owe it to the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis – our first responders, health care workers, and critical workers putting their lives on the line every day – to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of the virus.”

Executive Order 2020-100 also clarifies and, as necessary, extends the duration of a number of previous executive orders designed to protect Michiganders and to provide them the support they need.

The extended orders cover protections for workers who stay home and stay safe when they or their close contacts are sick, restoring water service to those whose water has been shut off, the affirmation of non-discrimination policies in the provision of COVID-19 care, and more.

“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again,” said Governor Whitmer. “We’ve already loosened some restrictions on construction, manufacturing, landscaping, retail, and more. But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made.”

Governor Whitmer has taken a number of actions to safely re-engage Michigan’s economy in a way that protects workers and their families. Most recently, she signed executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26, as part of her MI Safe Start plan. Effective on Friday, May 29, the governor also lifted the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide. And the governor also authorized small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.

Businesses that the governor has authorized to reopen must provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.

To view Executive Orders 2020-99 and 2020-100, click the link below:

Whitmer reopens auto dealerships and retail businesses by appointment; authorizes nonessential medical, dental, veterinary procedures


Posted by The Huron Hub | Press Release Desk | May 21, 2020

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26, as part of her MI Safe Start plan. The governor’s executive order also lifts the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide beginning on Friday, May 29. And the order authorizes small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing.

“The data shows that Michigan is ready to phase in these sectors of our economy, but we must stay vigilant and ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “On behalf of our brave first responders on the front lines of this crisis, we must continue to all do our part by staying safer at home. We owe it to them to do what we can to stop the spread of this virus.”

“As businesses continue to reopen, it’s crucial that they adopt strict safety measures to protect their employees, customers, and their families,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “I know that as medical professionals begin offering nonessential procedures again, they will do everything in their power to protect patients and their families from COVID-19. I will continue to work with Governor Whitmer and our partners across Michigan to protect our families and lower the chance of a second wave.”

“This is great news for dealerships across the state,” said Doug North, President of North Brothers Ford. “We appreciate the governor’s leadership, and we welcome the opportunity to serve our customers in a way that helps keep everyone safe from the showroom floor to the open road.”

The governor also signed a separate order, Executive Order 2020-97, updating a prior rule on workplace safety. Per the amended order, reopened outpatient health-care facilities, including clinics, primary care physician offices, and dental offices, will have to adopt strict protocols to prevent infection. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will issue guidance to aid those facilities in adopting appropriate safeguards.

As before, businesses maintaining in-person activities must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers. They must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.

“With today’s announcement, physicians and health care providers in Michigan are ready to resume taking care of patients,” said Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, president of the Michigan State Medical Society. “It is time for patients to catch up on the care that has been deferred for the past two months. We encourage the citizens of Michigan to tend to their health and protect each other by following public health guidance to prevent spread of this virus.”

Consistent with the governor’s previous Safer at Home orders, any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth—like a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief—when in any enclosed public space. Michiganders who are not working as critical infrastructure workers or at a business that has been authorized to reopen should stay home to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19.