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Health, Science and Environment

District Health departments take a “wait and see” approach around COVID orders

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At least two district health departments say they are taking a wait and see approach to COVID-19 emergency orders following a state supreme court decision that struck down the governor’s emergency powers.

Governor Whitmer said her orders remain in effect but has also requested additional guidance from the Supreme Court on when her orders are officially rescinded.

Local health departments said they will wait to see what local orders may be required to keep requirements around mask-wearing and social distancing in place.

Lisa Peacock is with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

“We at the local level would much prefer to see if there are going to be broad orders to see them issued statewide,” she said. “That provides for a good deal of consistency and protection across the state and avoids us having to patchwork it together.”

Peacock said local health departments do have the power to enact their own emergency orders.

“We understand our order under the public health code, we’ve issued emergency orders before we could certainly do it again,” she said. “But right now I think the best course is to stay the course. Let’s wait and see what the state comes up with and we’ll determine what we need to do from there.”

Peacock said if the state fails to issue orders, the health department will issue its own orders to keep a mask mandate in place.

“We are still in a public health emergency whether there is an official declaration or not. Set politics aside let’s all do the right thing, work together, stay the course, and protect each other so we can get through this safely.”

The Central Michigan District Health Department issued a similar statement saying that it stands behind “safety precautions that are currently in place.”

UPDATE: As of 4:37 on Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order restricting gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces, and placing limitations on bars and other venues.