List: Michigan counties issue emergency coronavirus orders after state Supreme Court ruling

Counties issue local orders to maintain COVID-19 safety measures amid uncertainty

Students arrive for in-person classes outside Public School 188 The Island School, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (John Minchillo, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Some Michigan counties are issuing local emergency orders to ensure coronavirus safety measures continue after the state Supreme Court struck down months of orders made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer amid the pandemic.

Oct. 6, 2020 UPDATE: Coronavirus order chaos in Michigan: Here’s where things stand

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday that a law from 1945 is unconstitutional, impacting numerous orders made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer under that law since the beginning of April.

Under the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, Whitmer has extended the state’s emergency status and issued a number of related orders in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. According to the court, those orders are no longer enforceable as of Friday.

However, Whitmer has said that existing orders will remain in effect for at least 21 days after the ruling -- but some argue that Whitmer has no legal basis to continue enforcing emergency orders following the court’s decision.

It is unclear if statewide mandates are still in effect or not, though the office of the Michigan Attorney General said Sunday that her office will no longer enforce Whitmer’s emergency orders.

Amid this uncertainty, some Michigan counties are issuing their own local emergency orders to maintain safety measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus -- we’ll keep a running list of them below.

Ingham County

Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail issued four new emergency orders on Oct. 4 to “keep several COVID-19 protections in place."

Under the new orders, Ingham County residents are still required to wear face coverings, indoor and outdoor gathering sizes are still limited, restaurants must continue to operate at a 50% (or 125 person) capacity limit and businesses must continue to carry out employee health screenings.

The requirements listed under the new orders have already been mandated in Ingham County, but officials said Sunday that local emergency orders were specifically issued to “remove uncertainty around the continuation of precautionary measures for Ingham County residents and businesses” following the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling. Click here for more information.

Oakland County

Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford issued one emergency health order on Oct. 3 that requires residents to wear face masks or coverings at any location apart from their home.

Emergency Order 2020-12 requires Oakland County residents to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when indoors, outdoors when unable to maintain a 6 feet distance, waiting for or riding on public transportation and athletes in organized sports except for swimming.

The order has been rescinded as county health officials said it is covered by an order issued on Oct. 5 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

St. Clair County

Following the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling on the governor’s emergency powers, the St. Clair County Health Department is encouraging residents to stay the course with COVID-19 prevention measures.

This is a public health advisory from the St. Clair County Health Department, not a mandate. Other county health departments, such as Oakland County’s, have issued orders that keep a mask mandate in place for public places.

Washtenaw County

The Washtenaw County Health Department is announcing local emergency public health orders to keep COVID-19 prevention and control strategies in place in the region, given that Michigan Executive Orders are now uncertain. Health Officer Jimena Loveluck has issued countywide orders on the use of face coverings, social gatherings, bar and restaurant capacity and employee health screenings.

The Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) issued a new emergency order on Oct. 7 updating limitations on gathering sizes (limitations were previously ordered in August and updated earlier this week).

Outdoor gatherings in residential settings are limited to 25 people in the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Indoor social gatherings in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are limited to 10 or fewer people who are not from the same household. Individuals socializing are also expected to wear face coverings, physically distance and wash their hands frequently.

“Social gatherings and events in other parts of Washtenaw County or in non-residential settings must comply with Michigan Department of Health and Human Service (MHDDS) orders,” reads WCHD’s press release.

Through its use of public health emergency orders, the WCHD says it is working to control the spread of the coronavirus in areas that are at increased risk for outbreaks due to large student populations and congregate housing on and near university campuses.

Click here to read more about Washtenaw County’s recent emergency public health orders.

Wayne County

The Wayne County Health Department issued an emergency public health order on Oct. 8 that requires residents to continue taking steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The order essentially requires the county to follow measures outlined in the MDHHS' statewide emergency order, which includes the requirement of face masks in public, gathering size limitations, employee health screenings and more.

The county health department issued another emergency order on Oct. 9 clarifying that some of Gov. Whitmer’s coronavirus orders are still in effect, and another on Oct. 17 updating restrictions to mimic those outline by the MDHHS' order.

Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans said the Wayne County Public Health Division and his administration continue to review the state Supreme Court’s ruling. He added Wayne County will work with the state and its regional neighbors on coming up with a comprehensive, long-term pandemic response.

Wayne County Exec.: Science-based, regional approach necessary in wake of ruling on Gov.'s Emergency Orders

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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.