Why can big box stores stay open? Answers to this and more questions about Michigan’s COVID-19 Executive Orders

AG Nessel answers frequently asked questions

Open sign (Pexels)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has been answering some of the questions her office has received about coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan and Executive Orders related to the pandemic.

She addressed some of the questions her office has gotten via email and social media in a video Monday. It is the second video Nessel has done to answer questions, and she said she plans to make similar videos regularly.

RELATED: Answers to questions about Michigan’s stay-at-home order

Read answers to the questions below (and watch her video below the questions).

Should an employer notify workers that someone they work with has tested positive for COVID-19?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said employers must notify co-workers when someone has tested positive. However, because of privacy laws, employers must ensure such notices don’t disclose the identity of the person.

There is a page on Nessel’s website dedicated to employee rights. See it here.

Can an employer send an employee home if they display symptoms associated with COVID-19?

Yes, an employer can send someone who is displaying symptoms home or tell them not to come in to work.

Can a health department disclose that someone in a home has tested positive for COVID-19 to help first responders take protective measures to keep themselves safe?

Yes. This information can be shared with central dispatch and then communicated with first responders when the first responder could be at risk. Reasonable effort should be made to make sure only a limited amount of information is shared.

What is being done to protect Department of Corrections inmates?

State officials and MDOC officials have been on several calls about efforts to protect inmates and staff. Several measures have been put in place, including a screening protocol to keep sick employees out of the buildings, aggressive cleaning measures and limiting the number of inmates who will be around each other at the same time.

Three makeshift hospitals have also been made to care for any inmates who test positive for COVID-19. Staff is also checking with the parole board to see which inmates can safely be released. Additionally, transfers between facilities have stopped. All transfers into MDOC have also been suspended.

Can we please reopen golf courses? We can play golf while practicing social distancing.

The issue with reopening golf courses isn’t whether golfers can maintain safe social distancing. The problem is that golf course workers are not critical infrastructure workers under the Executive Order that limits which businesses that can be open.

Who should we report people ignoring the order to?

Report violators to your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number.

RELATED: What nonessential employees can do if they’re being forced to work

A mechanic for a trucking company was stopped on his way to work and police allegedly stopped him and demanded a letter from his employer. Do workers need a letter from their employer?

No, a letter is not required to show that a worker has been designated as essential.

Some employers may be providing workers with a letter stating they are critical infrastructure workers out of an abundance of caution, but it is not required under the governor’s order.

Can a family member look into, wave through and blow kisses through the window of a person who is a resident of a nursing home?


Why are big box retailers allowed to stay open?

Whether a business can continue to have onsite operations depends on what the business does. For example, hardware stores can stay open because they provide essential construction supplies.

Stores that remain open must practice social distancing and restrict the number of workers to minimum that is needed. Workers and customers should keep 6 feet away from each other.

Other stores, such as craft stores, should not be open.

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.