The Archer sculpture in downtown Plainwell, sporting a mask in June. (File photo)

State orders more mask rules

With “mask up” the constant mantra from state officials, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has further intensified pressure on businesses to require their use indoors.

July 17, Whitmer’s new order clarifies that businesses may not assume that an unmasked customer cannot medically tolerate a face covering, though they can accept a customer’s verbal representation to that effect.

The order also requires public safety officers to wear a face covering unless doing so would seriously interfere in the performance of their responsibilities, and it clarifies that wearing a mask at a polling place for purposes of voting in an election is not required but is strongly encouraged.

Her previous orders require mask use in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces.

Whitmer said, “If everyone in Michigan masks up, we can save thousands of lives and put ourselves in a better position to send our kids back to school in the fall.”

Besides the medical and voting exemptions, other exceptions include children younger than 5, those eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment, and those exercising.

State officials claimed inconsistent mask use has helped lead an uptick in new cases in the last two weeks; daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in all but one region in the state.

There is also no penalty for those who remove a mask while engaging in religious worship in a house of religious worship, though CDC guidelines strongly encourage mask use.

Whitmer extended July 14 the emergency and disaster declaration through Aug. 11.

Also last week she consolidated several executive orders that allow governmental bodies to convene public meetings remotely. They can now do so during any state of emergency or disaster associated with COVID-19, and for 28 days thereafter.

It allows public bodies subject to the Open Meetings Act, including boards, commissions, committees, subcommittees, authorities, councils and nonprofit boards, to use telephone- or video-conferencing methods to continue meeting and conducting business.

 

By the numbers

Positive tests continued to rise to 388 by Tuesday, up from 337 last Tuesday, with another 47 probable cases. The number of COVID-19-related deaths here remains at seven.

Of the 754 who had been monitored by the health department for the disease, a total of 32 have been hospitalized. Testing negative for COVID-19 have been a total of 12,272, up from last week’s 10,630.

Statewide confirmed cases as of Tuesday grew to 74,152 with a total of 6,126 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

Cases nationwide jumped to 3.8 million with 140,157 deaths as of July 20. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates a total of 14.3 million have tested positive and 603,691 had died.

 

Testing

COVID-19 testing is available to individuals of any age, regardless of symptoms. Individuals younger than 18 need parental/guardian consent. No lab order or screening is required. A translator will be on site and available for each event.

Individuals in need of transportation can call Allegan County Transportation at (269) 673-4229 before noon the day before the desired event. There is no charge for transportation related to these testing events.

The testing events will be hosted on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon in the following areas:

• July 23: Plainwell Middle School; 720 Brigham St., Plainwell 49080

• July 30: Otsego Middle School; 540 Washington St., Otsego 49078

• Aug. 6: Allegan High School; 1560 Lincoln Rd, Allegan 49010

For more information, call the county’s COVID-19 Hotline at (269) 686-4546.

Symptoms related to COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

More testing locations are available at www.michigan.gov/coronavirustest.

 

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