Michigan AG to police: Whitmer orders are valid, enforceable
LANSING (AP) — Michigan’s attorney general on Tuesday backed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and told local law enforcement officials that her stay-at-home directive and restrictions on pla
ces of public accommodations are valid and enforceable despite Republican lawmakers’ refusal to extend an underlying emergency declaration last week.
Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said her letter was necessary to clarify the situation after numerous legislators and other officials questioned the validity of the Democratic governor’s orders to curb the coronavirus. The measures, Nessel said, were a “valid exercise” of Whitmer’s broad emergency powers under a 1945 law.
Nessel’s letter was the latest step in what has become a partisan fight over the governor’s authority to act unilaterally in a pandemic. The GOP-led Legislature, which wants more input on reopening businesses and lifting other restrictions, appears likely to sue.
A 1976 law says lawmakers are needed to extend states of disaster or emergency. But it also says it should not be construed to limit a governor’s authority to proclaim an emergency under the 1945 law, which requires no legislative extension.
The stay-home order will run through at least May 15. Restaurants will be limited to pickup and delivery through May 28, while bars, casinos, theaters and other places will remain closed.
Nessel said the continued restrictions are necessary and reasonable to secure public health, and are valid and enforceable under the 1945 law.
Michigan’s confirmed cases rose at a much slower pace, up 1% Tuesday to roughly 44,400. Nearly 4,200 people had died, but only 44 new deaths were logged and eight could have occurred weeks ago.
The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest that people can be infected without feeling sick.
Henry Ford Health System, which has five acute-care hospitals in southeastern Michigan, dropped below 300 COVID-19 patients for the first time since March 25.
Michigan’s largest provider, Beaumont Health, said it had 403 patients with COVID-19 and another 74 with tests pending. Beaumont has been under 500 patients only three times since March 22; twice since Sunday.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Two young Catholic priests have moved near Covenant HealthCare hospital in Saginaw to anoint those sickened by COVID-19.
Adam Maher and Andy LaFramboise left their parishes in the Saginaw Diocese in April and are now on call to offer the sacrament to patients at any time. At least 68 Saginaw County residents have died, and hundreds more had been infected.
“When this all hit, I remember praying, ‘Lord, heal these people, bless these people,'” Maher told WNEM-TV. “And guess what: He asked me to go. It’s funny how the Lord would rather do something through you than for you.”
Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan said 1,400 full-time employees will be furloughed or laid off while 300 vacancies will remain unfilled. Like other health systems, it said it had lost money because of a lid on medical care unrelated to the virus.
A Detroit hospital under scrutiny for its treatment of the dead and dying during the pandemic was found in compliance with rules related to staffing and infection control.
A spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said in an email Monday to The Detroit News that no citations were issued against Sinai-Grace in northwest Detroit.
The state began looking into Sinai-Grace after the newspaper reported April 9 that people hospitalized with COVID-19 were dying in its hallways and nurses could not find body bags or places to put the deceased. CNN released photos that appeared to show bodies in vacant hospital rooms and in refrigerated trucks in the parking lot.
Honda loaned 10 retrofitted minivans to Detroit for use as taxis to take people without transportation to go for drive-thru testing.
The company placed plastic barriers behind the front seats and modified the ventilation systems to separate the air between the driver and the passenger.
Patients and drivers wear masks, and the vehicles are cleaned between rides, Mayor Mike Duggan said.