ANN ARBOR – Starting Wednesday, the Washtenaw County government will be closing its non-essential services in compliance with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' order that all offices that have the ability to work remotely should do so for a period of three weeks in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The measure was announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a press conference on Sunday.
“Right now, there are thousands of cases a day and hundreds of deaths a week in Michigan, and the number is growing," Whitmer said. "If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed.”
The three-week pause will see employees work remotely, if possible, the closure of high schools, colleges, casinos, bowling alleys, indoor dining, ice skating rinks, bingo halls, arcades and indoor waterparks.
The goal of the newest order is to limit indoor gatherings as much as possible.
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“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic," Washtenaw County Administrator Gregory Dill said in a message to county staff on Monday. “At the start of this crisis we assured you all that we would continue to evaluate our service delivery, that we would adapt to the needs of our residents and we are doing just that.
"And so with our county’s mission in mind, continuing to be driven by the needs of our residents and guided by the science; working with a sense of urgent collaboration – we are coordinating essential services throughout the county and doing everything we can to keep everyone safe. We will reduce our operations for the next three weeks and are prepared for a longer-term virtual, working environment should it be necessary.”
The county will be updating its department websites in order to keep residents informed about available services. Essential staff will be working remotely.
“Washtenaw County is following the lead of our governor and of our state and local health departments," Jason Morgan, Chair of the Board of Commissioners said in a statement. “They have exhibited extraordinary leadership and we will continue to heed their directives. Although this pause may not be what we hoped to have happen, COVID numbers are higher than ever and we know what works to keep residents safe. We know that washing hands and wearing face coverings work.
"We know that avoiding in-person gatherings reduces the spread of this virus. The Board and I will be following the orders of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and we implore residents to do the same. When we all work together, Washtenaw County wins. So, please heed ‘The Pause’. Not forever, but for now, so that we can help reduce the upward trend of positive Covid-19 cases in our county, in Michigan and all over the country.”