MI’s health services drop COVID mandates in response to budget language
MI’s health departments are dropping masking and quarantine warrants in response to the 2022 state budget signed by Governor Whitmer on Wednesday, due to a clause in it that appears to indicate that departments with COVID-related health mandates still in place after October 1 would not be eligible for certain public funding.
The governor’s office met with statewide health departments to explain that the language will not be enforced by their administration.
“The dangerous language in these provisions which attempted to tie the hands of public health professionals is unconstitutional and the governor has declared it unenforceable,” Governor Whitmer’s press secretary Bobby Leddy said in a statement to FOX 17 on Thursday. afternoon.
“The State of Michigan will not withhold funding from local health departments for the implementation of universal mask policies or quarantine protocols at local schools that are designed to keep students safe so they can continue.” to learn in person. “
Despite the governor’s office calling the language “unconstitutional” and saying his administration would not enforce it, FOX 17 first heard the Berrien County The health ministry on Wednesday, saying they were canceling their prescription effective that night.
The health ministry said in a statement it could not risk losing money because it funds “vital community programs and services such as vaccinations, infectious disease control, control and prevention sexually transmitted diseases, hearing screening, vision services, food protection, public water supply. , private groundwater supply and on-site wastewater management. “
Courtney Davis, head of health at the Berrien County Department of Health, said: “It is appalling that local Michigan health departments must choose between protecting school children from the threat of COVID-19 and funding future our essential public health programs. . Our hands are tied. “
The language of the 2022 budget is now confusing local health workers across the state.
“The governor’s office met with the health services legal advisers and explained the concept of unenforceability, and for many that alleviated their concerns, and they decided to keep their orders intact. But, some believe that there is still a risk, even though they believe the funds will be affected, that there could be a legal challenge that would take a local health service to court to spend resources that they really don’t, the legal fees would be a distraction from the work they’re trying to do, ”said Norm Hess, executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health.
“And so for some it was just a risk they felt they needed to mitigate by rescinding their orders from tonight.”
The County of Ionia The health ministry has also decided to cancel all of its prescriptions.
Health worker Ken Bowen said in a statement to FOX 17: “We didn’t have mask orders but we had two quarantine orders and one order requiring screening for childcare organizations… we consider that this is a legal question which will ultimately be decided by the courts. “
FOX 17 contacted the Barry Eaton neighborhood The Health Ministry on Thursday afternoon, which said they “were awaiting clarification on budget wording and could not comment further.”
Rebecca Burns MPH, RS, health worker for the Branch-Hillsdalle- St. Joseph County The Health Ministry spoke at a special public meeting Thursday afternoon where she announced that they would also be canceling their order.
Allegan CountyThe order requiring students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 to wear masks will be rescinded at 5:00 p.m. on September 30. A statement sent to FOX 17 Thursday afternoon said: “The Allegan County Commissioners Council has not acted on the county health officer’s request to support the department’s order demanding that Kindergarten to Grade 6 students wear masks during the current Covid 19 contagion. Non-action effectively ends the ordering of masks at 5 p.m. today. “
Allegan County Health Department Medical Director Dr Richard Tooker said in a statement Thursday: “Our children are a vulnerable population where it is extremely important to put all effective mitigation strategies in place – that include universal school masking – to protect them. We strongly recommend that all local school boards and principals adopt evidence-based public health practices and have a masking requirement in place universal in their school environment.
Muskegon County no longer have any COVID-related health orders in place, so this bill wording has no immediate impact on their operations.
The Kalamazoo Health and community services The department is closed on Thursday, September 30. They should reopen on Friday October 1. It is not yet known whether the order cancellation plan is planned.
The Kent County The Department of Health told FOX 17 they expect to issue a public statement regarding their next steps at some point on Thursday.
FOX 17 contacted health officials in County of Ottawa as well – we’ll update this story when we hear from them.