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MDHHS extends epidemic order 12 more days

Indoor and outdoor gatherings to remain limited, department to closely monitor hospital beds with COVID patients, rate of case growth, positivity rate prior to re-engagement

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has extended by 12 days the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities. This means existing “pause” measures will stay in place until December 20.

Their reasoning is that the additional 12 days “will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan.”

Under the order, MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings, and only two households may gather inside, with strict protocols recommended. Individuals should wear masks consistently whenever they are inside with individuals not in their household and are recommended to pick only a small group to see regularly. 

Bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service, but can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. Gyms are open for individual exercise with mandatory masking and additional strict safety measures. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes remain closed. 

Colleges, universities and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes.

Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators. However, high schools may not.

Mark Uyl, Executive Director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, was disappointed in the state’s announcement. “We realize the crisis our medical caregivers and first responders are navigating and understand the need to continue the pause. However, the MHSAA had provided a detailed plan to both Governor Whitmer and MDHHS that would have completed fall tournaments with no spectators as safely as possible during the month of December along with allowing winter sport practices to resume.  While we are disappointed in today’s announcement, we will continue to look forward as we remain committed to play three sports seasons to their conclusion.” 

The MHSAA Representative Council met Wednesday December 9, for informational purposes, and will convene Dec. 16 to formulate plans for when school sports are allowed to resume activity.

Not everything is closed. Employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, including those in manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines. “We each have a personal responsibility to wear a mask consistently and minimize indoor gatherings, so we can protect our frontline heroes and loved ones,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “If we don’t, the disease will continue to spread and people will continue to get sick and die.”

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