Wayne County issues emergency order to preserve coronavirus precautions

Residents, businesses required to follow measures outlined by state health department

A shopper wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus looks at produce and a grocery in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) (Vincent Thian, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Wayne County Health Department issued an emergency public health order on Oct. 8 requiring residents to continue taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Wayne County officials say requirements listed in Thursday’s order essentially carry on health and safety precautions previously ordered by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before the state Supreme Court ruled against her emergency powers.

“We are keeping the COVID-19 rules and regulations in place from before the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on the governor’s authority to issue them,” Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans said in a press release. “Wayne County’s order is simple: keep wearing masks in public; no group events larger than 10 people or 20 percent attendance per 1,000 square-feet of space; and, employers must still provide health screenings for employees working in public areas or with the public. These are the rules we are accustomed to and they are the rules we are going to follow until there is clearer direction from the state.”

The county’s emergency order specifically recognizes the recent emergency order issued statewide by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that maintained a number of measures initially ordered by Whitmer. The Wayne County Health Department is reinforcing these measures by deeming them active and enforceable in the county through their own emergency order.

It is important to note that the county’s emergency order excludes the city of Detroit, as it is governed by its own health department.

As written by officials, under the new order Wayne County residents and employees must:

  • "Continue wearing face masks while in public spaces;
  • Limit group events to 10 people or less, or in the case of arena or entertainment event with fixed seating, limit attendance to 20 percent of the venue’s seating capacity to allow for social distancing;
  • Continue protections for residents of long-term care facilities; and,
  • Screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms."

Officials say schools under the jurisdiction of the Wayne County Health Department are also required to continue following the state’s Return to School plan.

Wayne County officials say the emergency order is effective immediately and is expected to remain in effect until at least Oct. 23.

“Wayne County residents and businesses recognize the importance these health safety measures play in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and we have seen strong compliance across our 43 communities,” Evans said. “This order just makes it clear that Wayne County is going to continue with the public health safety rules everyone is accustomed to and that are showing results in slowing the spread of this disease.”

Violations of the order are “subject to citation and penalties as outlined in the Michigan Public Health Code,” the order reads.

A number of Michigan counties and their health departments are issuing their own local emergency orders to maintain precautions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 following the state Supreme Court’s ruling. Click here to review a list of Michigan counties that have issued such orders.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.