MAC COVID-19 Update
Whitmer issues Executive Order on FOIA deadlines

Acting on input from the Michigan Association of Counties and other local government groups, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an Executive Order to alter deadlines under the state's Freedom of Information Act during the corona crisis.

Key points in EO 2020-38 are:

  • "A public body must respond in writing to a request or an appeal received at its physical office via mail, hand delivery, or facsimile within 10 business days after actual receipt of the request or appeal. For purposes of this order, actual receipt of a request or appeal occurs when an employee of the public body physically opens the envelope containing the request or physically takes the faxed request from the fax machine. Nothing in this order requires an employee to report to the office to open mail or check the fax machine if the employee would not otherwise be permitted to report to the office in person and required to perform those tasks."

  • "If a public records request requires in-person efforts, such as an in-person search, inspection, examination, preparation, or production of public records, by the requestor or the public body, a public body may defer that portion of the request until the expiration of this order or any order that follows from it."


On Sunday, the governor also revised and extended her EO on health care and juvenile justice facilities. EO 2020-37 replaces the previous EO 2020-7 on the subject and is in effect until end of May 3, 2020.

DHHS issues order on expedited reporting for COVID deaths

COVID-19 deaths will be reported by physicians and funeral homes more quickly under an  emergency order   issued on April 4 by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon that will improve the state’s response to slowing the spread of the virus, the department said in a statement.

The order, effective immediately, gets important death information to public health officials so they can better provide health services and enforce health laws.

“MDHHS is committed to protecting the public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I am issuing this emergency order,” Gordon said. “To inform sound decision-making and protect Michiganders, public health officials need accurate information about COVID-19 deaths as quickly as possible. I appreciate the work of our funeral home directors and physicians right now, and I am grateful to partner with them in taking quick action during this pandemic.”

The order requires physicians who know or suspect that a patient’s death resulted from COVID-19 to try to promptly notify the funeral director. The funeral director is then required to initiate the death record and submit to the attending physician within 24 hours of becoming aware that the death resulted or is suspected to have resulted from COVID-19. The funeral director must then file the death record with the local registrar of the district where the death occurred within 48 hours of becoming aware the death resulted or was suspected to have resulted from COVID-19. Funeral directors also must report all deaths using Michigan’s   Electronic Death Records System .

Retailers offer suggestions on critical fields

The Michigan Retailers Association has prepared a memo on what critical infrastructure retailers allowed to remain open under Executive Order 2020-21 are doing to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. It also highlights the logistical problems with proposed regulations seen in various parts of the country and caution against adopting those in Michigan. We respectfully ask that you please share this with county officials and local public health officials.
 
Facebook offers tools to connect with constituents

The  Facebook Local Alerts Tool  allows local government, public health agency and first responder pages to broadcast essential updates to people in their community via Facebook by marking a page post as Local Alert, which sends out a notification to page followers who live in a community.  Learn more here .  
If you don’t already have access, you should find instructions on how to sign up in an email that was sent to your Facebook Page admins. We recommend doing this as soon as you can to ensure you have full ability to send Local Alerts when you need them. If you did not receive an email, please  complete this form .

Facebook has also launched the COVID-19 Information Center, featured at the top of News Feed, to provide a central place for people to get the latest news and information as well as resources and tips to stay healthy and support their family and community. We are now also sharing Local Alerts to the top of the Information Center- giving them additional distribution. 
Also, to make it easy to monitor some of the most shared content on social media about the virus in every state, Facebook has built state-level  CrowdTangle Live Displays . These displays are publicly accessible.

MAC adds ‘heat map’ to website for county-by-county data

Working with our partners at the data firm Munetrix, MAC has installed an interactive “heat map” of the state showing COVID-19 data by county. In addition to the number of cases and deaths, the map will show cases per 100,000 residents.

Munetrix has offered to share the embed code for this map with our county members for their websites. If you wish to receive the code, send the request to melot@micounties.org.

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