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Michigan health department issues emergency order related to handling of bodies

Failure to act within 48 hours of notification forfeits right to make decision

Michigan
Michigan (WDIV)

LANSING,Mich. – Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon issued an Emergency Order on Monday that shortens the time frame hospitals and funeral directors have to contact individuals with authority over disposition of the body of a deceased individual and the amount of time that individual has to make a decision regarding arrangements for the deceased.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 43,754 as of Sunday, including 4,049 deaths, state officials report.

Per MCL 333.2253, it has been determined COVID-19 has reached epidemic status in Michigan. As of Sunday, May 3, there were 43,754 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Michigan, with 4,049 deaths.

“The increase in deaths has placed a significant burden on the hospitals and funeral homes in our state,” said Gordon. “We need to alleviate this burden and ensure the safe, proper and respectful handling of Michiganders’ remains.”

The order provides hospitals and funeral directors 24 hours to attempt to contact persons with authority over disposition of the body of a deceased individual, including family members. If no such person can be located within that time, the duty falls to a county medical examiner.

If a person with authority over the disposition of a body is identified, they have 48 hours from the time of death to make a decision and complete arrangements regarding disposition. Failure to act within 48 hours of notification forfeits the right to make that decision.

The order also relaxes certain licensing provisions for funeral directors, allows funeral directors and medical examiners to authorize embalming, and allows for storage of bodies at a temporary storage facility provided by the Michigan Mortuary Response Team or at an alternate site procured by the license holder.


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