Michigan Gov. Whitmer signs EO to protect people working, living in long-term care facilities


LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-50 to establish procedures in long-term care facilities to protect the health and safety of both their employees and residents.

At many of Michigan’s long-term care facilities residents and employees live and work in confined spaces. There is also a lack of personal protective equipment. A positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test can threaten the safety of the entire facility.

"The spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on residents and employees at Michigan’s long-term care facilities,” Whitmer said. “That’s why I am taking action to implement policies that will protect the most people we can in those facilities. I know this is a hard time for Michigan’s elderly residents, their families, and the hardworking staff who work with them every day. I will continue to do everything in my power to protect Michiganders everywhere from the spread of this virus. We will get through this together.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will work with long-term care facilities across the state to establish COVID-19 designated regional hubs. The hubs are meant to provide higher levels of care and services to treat patients with increased needs.

If a resident has coronavirus symptoms a long-term care facility will be required to tell both employees and residents. The order also requires nursing homes to have separate units for residents who test positive or have symptoms.

“The residents and dedicated employees at our long-term care facilities are some of the most vulnerable people when it comes to the spread of COVID-19, and we must do everything we can to protect them,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “This executive order will help ensure that our long-term care facilities are using best practices to keep their residents and employees safe.”

Executive order 2020-50 also protects residents from being evicted and protects employees from retaliation for staying home when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to mitigate the risk of infecting others under Executive Order 2020-36.

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.