DEARBORN — Michigan will begin its three-week “pause” on Wednesday, targeting in particular indoor gatherings around holidays and indoor dining and bar services to mitigate the sate’s intense COVID-19 crisis.
This statewide restrictions on certain activities was issued by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), in contrast to previous executive orders which came from Governor Whitmer and were challenged in court by state Republicans.
In response to the new restrictions, the communication director at the state’s Attorney General’s (AG) office, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, said on Sunday that the office recognizes and strongly supports the “need for these important measures in an effort to stem the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in Michigan.”
The office also said that as with past orders, county public health departments and local law enforcement are primarily responsible for enforcement in their own communities, adding, “We hope they do so. We stand ready to assist them in their efforts.”
Chief Ron Haddad of the Dearborn Police Department told The Arab American News on Monday that his department is ready to enforce the rules when necessary. For months, the city has remained on top of the Wayne County health department’s COVID-19 tracker for cases, with 3,967 cases and 131 deaths reported on Monday.
Dearborn did see action from its police department and other agencies over the COVID-19 spike earlier this year. Byblos Banquet Center received a cease and desist order for an unauthorized wedding with more than 100 people in attendance in August. The Home Depot in Dearborn Heights received a $4,000 citation for unsafe work environment last September.
Enforcement practices have always been a collaborative effort between various local and state agencies, though in the past the AG’s office and health departments seemed to deal with business enforcement, while local law enforcement broke up gatherings via warning or citations. Citation amounts have varied over the year. At their peak, potential citations amounted to $1,000 or even jail time under Whitmer’s last set of executive orders before COVID-19 restrictions began being handled by the MDHHS.
The ultimate goal is to make sure that we bring COVID under control and to hopefully stop the amount of Michiganders dying from this pandemic — Michigan State Police 1st Lt. Michael Shaw
1st Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police (MSP) told The Arab American News on Monday that enforcement of these COVID-19 orders are a group effort by state and local law enforcement, local health departments and the community.
“The ultimate goal is to make sure that we bring COVID under control and to hopefully stop the amount of Michiganders dying from this pandemic,” Shaw said. “MSP as well as the Dearborn Police Department have enforced both the pandemic orders and now these. At times it’s education, but troopers also have the discretion to issue a citation or submit a report to the state health department.”
Shaw said, however, that it is important that communities also take on the personal responsibility to follow these orders.
“Enforcement of these orders is not the only way to stop the spread of (COVID-19),” he said. “If the community takes these orders seriously, continues to wear a mask, maintains social distancing and wash their hands we will get past this pandemic.”
“The Dearborn Heights Police Department will continue our campaign to gain compliance with the MDHHS orders through education, advising, and if needed, enforcement,” said Dearborn Heights Police Chief Mark Meyers. “We had great success in the early weeks of the pandemic with this program and we believe that will continue now. As a community, it is our responsibility to slow the spread of COIVD-19, giving our health care workers the ability to provide great care to those most in need.”
New COVID restrictions
Under the new order, indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at any one time. However, MDHHS strongly urges families to pick a single other household to interact with over the next three weeks, consistent with new guidance released by the department.
Hair salons, barber shops and other personal services will remain open. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures.
Bars and restaurants will be remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes are all closed. Colleges and high schools will proceed with remote-learning only. Only those professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, while all other organized sports will be cancelled.
Republicans in Lansing once again displayed outrage at the newest mitigation efforts from Whitmer’s administration. State Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford Twp.) and others called for the governor’s impeachment for “completely ignoring due process and the legislature” and other alleged conduct.
On Monday, Michigan recorded it’s 8,000th COVID-19 related death, as the pharmaceutical company Moderna announced that clinical trials show that their vaccine is effective. The state currently has a seven-day case average of 512 cases per million people, five times higher than the case rate on Oct. 1.