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Lawmakers respond to state health department’s epidemic order

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Today, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) and House Democratic Leader Christine Greig issued the following statement after Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon signed an epidemic order that restricts gathering sizes, requires face coverings in public spaces and places limitations on bars and other venues.  

“Since the court’s ruling on Friday, there have been a number of questions about what is and isn’t allowable. This epidemic order will help create continuity in our battle to keep Michiganders safe from the deadly pandemic. The person issuing the orders may have changed, but the severity of COVID-19 has not; Michiganders should keep doing the right thing by masking up, socially distancing, washing hands and staying safe.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint)

“The recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling — decided by the narrow majority of Republican justices — has created chaos and uncertainty for Michiganders as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across our state. While the MDHHS epidemic order issued today is critical to ensuring that Michiganders continue to practice live-saving measures, the Republican legislative leaders must get off the sidelines and act immediately to protect the lives of Michiganders and safeguard our state’s economic recovery.

For months, Republican legislative leaders opted to limit legislative sessions, refused to work in good faith with the Governor or Michigan Democrats or advance numerous bills to address critical issues including unemployment insurance, remote meetings and small business financial support. Now, Republican legislative leaders have the responsibility to address the chaos and disruption to the state’s pandemic response that they have created. Yet, they continue to demonstrate no interest in doing so. Michiganders deserve better.”

House Democratic Leader Christine Greig

Under MCL 333.2253, if the MDHHS director determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the director by emergency order may prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws. Gordon shares more about the reasoning behind the order in a recent column.

Violations of this order are punishable by a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $200, or both. Violations of this order are also punishable by a civil fine of fine of up to $1,000.

“Michigan was hit hard by COVID-19 early in the pandemic,” said Gordon. “Strict preventive measures and the cooperation of Michiganders drove those numbers down dramatically, greatly reducing the loss of life. As we head into flu season, this order is necessary to protect vulnerable individuals, ensure the health care system can provide care for all health issues, keep schools open, and maintain economic recovery.” 

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