As the U.S. scrambled to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented joint effort developed among federal and state governments, regulators, hospitals, suppliers and health-care providers. Out of necessity, institutions altered how they function—and how they cooperate—to save lives. Although the pandemic exposed flaws and weaknesses in the
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May 22, 2020 Mark Hicks, The Detroit News
Whitmer extends stay-at-home order through June 12
Fresh from a legal victory that backs her power, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended her controversial stay-at-home order Friday evening until June 12, pushing back against critics who have called for a quicker loosening of restrictions during the pandemic.
The order, which has been in place since late March and extended multiple times, was due to expire on May 28.
The measure also extends the closure of some places of public accommodation, such as theaters, gyms and casinos.
Whitmer also signed an executive order to extend through June 19 a state of emergency declaration enacted during the pandemic and which was upheld by a judge Thursday.
The governor's office said her measures to control the spread of coronavirus were working but cited COVID-19 cases in some counties in western and mid-Michigan doubling about every 10 days as reasons for the extension.
“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet. If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home,” Whitmer said in a statement.
“If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed. While we ﬁnally have more protective equipment like masks, we can’t run the risk of running low again. We owe it to the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis — our first responders, health care workers and critical workers putting their lives on the line every day — to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of the virus.”
The decision drew quick criticism from Republicans.
"Not only is Gretchen Whitmer going around the state Legislature, but now she is sneaking around the people of Michigan by announcing an extension to her stay at home order after regular business hours on a holiday weekend," said Laura Cox, who chairs the Michigan Republican Party, in a statement. "The only thing she is trying to keep safe is her political career.”
Whitmer's announcement followed a legal victory after weeks of legislators challenging her powers during the COVID-19 crisis.
On Thursday, a Court of Claims judge ruled Whitmer had the legal authority to extend Michigan's state of emergency under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945.
The ruling overrides the argument from the Republican-led House and Senate that Whitmer had no authority to extend the coronavirus state of emergency, which she issued March 10, past April without legislative approval.
Representatives of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, who along with other GOP leaders promised to appeal the ruling, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday on Whitmer's extensions.
Meanwhile, as health officials reported declining rates of COVID-19 cases, Whitmer has relaxed some restrictions in the state associated with her original orders, which have sparked protests and lawsuits.
She has signed an executive order to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday. And effective May 29, Whitmer lifted the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures statewide.
The governor has also authorized small gatherings of 10 people or less as long as participants practice social distancing.
As part of her plans to gradually reopen the state, restaurants and retail stores reopened Friday in parts of Northern Michigan as well as the entire Upper Peninsula.
“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again,” Whitmer said Friday. “We’ve already loosened some restrictions on construction, manufacturing, landscaping, retail and more. But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk and wipes out all the progress we've made.”
Michigan reported 29 additional deaths tied to the novel coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total of 5,158 fatalities statewide. It was also the eighth consecutive day the state confirmed fewer than 800 new cases, adding 403 for a total of 53,913, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The state has continued to rank seventh in the nation for its number of COVID-19 cases and fourth for deaths — behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.
Encouraging the use of telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency
May 14, 2020
Here are the 6 stages in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to fully reopen the state
The MI re-opening plan has six phases as outlined here - https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98158-528453--,00.html
The phases of the pandemic include:
1. UNCONTROLLED GROWTH
The increasing number of new cases every day, overwhelming our health systems.
- If a community remains in this phase for an extended period of time, healthcare facilities could quickly be overwhelmed. Because unmitigated behavior contributes to the exponential growth, communities can slow the growth rate and exit this phase by introducing social distancing practices and wearing masks when in public.
2. PERSISTENT SPREAD
We continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity.
- There are still high case levels, but the growth rate might gradually decrease. Within this phase, the epidemic is widespread in a community and source of infection is more difficult to trace. Even though the growth rate of new cases is decreasing, high volumes of infected individuals mean that health systems could become overwhelmed, leading to higher mortality rates. During this phase, it is important to maintain social distancing practices in order to slow the spread to a level that health systems can handle as they are continuing to build capacity.
The epidemic is no longer increasing and the health-system’s capacity is sufficient for current needs.
- Because new cases are not constantly increasing, health system capacity has time to expand to epidemic needs and is not typically overwhelmed. During this phase, testing and contact tracing efforts are ramped up statewide. To prevent each infected individual from spreading the virus unchecked, rapid case investigation, contact tracing, and containment practices are necessary within a community.
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining.
- When in the Improving phase, most new outbreaks are quickly identified, traced, and contained due to robust testing infrastructure and rapid contact tracing. Health system capacity can typically handle these new outbreaks, and therefore case fatality rate does not rise above typical levels. Though a community might be in a declining phase, the overall number of infected individuals still indicate the need for distancing to stop transmission and move to the next phase.
Continued case and death rate improvements, with outbreaks quickly contained.
- At this point, the number of active cases has reached a point where infection from other members of the community is less common. With widespread testing, positivity rates often fall much lower than earlier phases. Rapid case investigation, contact tracing, and containment strategies cause new cases to continue to fall. However, if distancing and other risk mitigation efforts are not continued, infections could begin to grow again because a permanent solution to the epidemic has not yet been identified.
Community spread not expected to return.
- Reaching this phase would mean that community spread is not expected to return, because of sufficient community immunity and availability of treatment. Because of this, the number of infected individuals falls to nearly zero and the community does not typically experience this strain of the epidemic returning. All areas of the economy reopen, and gatherings of all sizes resume.
“The worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made. That’s why we will continue to monitor the spread of this virus, hospital capacity, testing rates, and more as we work toward reaching the ‘improving’ phase,” Whitmer said.
RELATED LINK: Whitmer Extends Stay Home, Stay Safe Order To May 28
Michigan Policy Updates from Michigan.gov coronavirus updated May 11, 2020
- Executive Orders, Directives & FAQs
- COVID-19 Updates from MDHHS
- News Releases from the State Emergency Operations Center
- News Releases from the Executive Office of the Governoration.
- Executive Orders
- Medicaid Policy
ASPPB - State Psych Boards and licensing changes due to COVID-19. direct link to the document from their website is here: Michigan is on page 17- Released on April 1, 2020
- COVID-19 Response: Telemedicine Policy Expansion - Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs)/Community Mental Health Services Providers (CMHSPs) Implications – Issued March 20, 2020
- COVID-19 Response: Relaxing Face-to-Face Requirement – Policy update for Medicaid, Children Special Health Care Services, Flint Waiver, Healthy Michigan Plan – Issued March 18, 2020
- General Telemedicine Policy Changes; Updates to Existing Policy; Federally Qualified Health Center and Rural Health Clinic Policy Changes – This policy expands the definition for originating site and updates reimbursement information. It was not released in response to COVID-19 but includes many changes that went into effect March 1, 2020.
- Medicaid will allow homes to be an eligible originating site
- Expansion of Telemedicine Policy, including telephonic only communication.
Whitmer Administration Expands Telemedicine, Urges President Trump to Permit ACA Special Enrollment Period During COVID-19
Proposed Medicaid Policy 2021-Telemedicine
The following proposed policy has been issued for public comment:
- 2021-Telemedicine - COVID-19 Response: Telemedicine Policy Expansion; Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs)/Community Mental Health Services Programs (CMHSPs) Implications.
Comments may be forwarded to the e-mail or address noted on the policy's transmittal sheet.
Proposed Medicaid policies may be accessed here on the MDHHS website.