MAC COVID-19 Update
Stay at Home order extends to May 28; new version includes exceptions, guidance on safe workplaces

Michigan’s Stay at Home order has been extended to May 28, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced in a press conference Thursday afternoon. The new order, EO 77, however has enhanced exceptions to allow for a variety of work activities, ranging from auto production to garden centers. E0 77 also notes that “Businesses, operations, and government agencies that remain open for in-person work must, at a minimum:
  • “(a) Develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, consistent with recommendations in Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and available here. Such plan must be available at company headquarters or the worksite.
  • “(b)Restrict the number of workers present on premises to no more than is strictly necessary to perform the in-person work permitted under this order. …”
During her Thursday presentation, Whitmer outlined the phases Michigan is going through to address the COVID-19 pandemic:
  1. UNCONTROLLED GROWTH: The increasing number of new cases every day, overwhelming our health systems. 
  2. PERSISTENT SPREAD: We continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity. 
  3. FLATTENING: The epidemic is no longer increasing and the health system's capacity is sufficient for current needs. 
  4. IMPROVING: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining. 
  5. CONTAINING: Continued case and death rate improvements, with outbreaks quickly contained. 
  6. POST-PANDEMIC: Community spread not expected to return. 
“The worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we've made. That's why we will continue to monitor the spread of this virus, hospital capacity, testing rates, and more as we work toward reaching the ‘improving’ phase," she said.
The governor also released her Safe Start Plan to guide businesses in the days and weeks ahead.
Webinar reviews model plan for county preparedness

Counties need to have preparedness/response plans to comply with a state Executive Order, experts with the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) said during a MAC-sponsored webinar on Wednesday .

The webinar allowed MMRMA to review and take questions on its model response plan for the COVID-19 crisis.

Among key points made by MMRMA’s Cindy King and Stephen Tobler were:

  • Counties should plan for employees to wear masks in their buildings unless the employee is in her office or cubicle.
  • Counties need to think expansively about what areas and surfaces would require regular cleaning, even down to such items as a shared stapler in a copier room, King said.
  • Any questions about returning non-essential staffers to workplaces while the Stay at Home order is still in place should be raised with a county’s legal counsel.

MAC thanks MMRMA for participating in the webinar and for making its model plan available to non-members as counties grapple with the public health, personnel and service-delivery issues created by the COVID-19 crisis.
Experts: Document, document, document on FEMA costs

A team of experts from Witt-O’Brien’s repeatedly emphasized that documentation was critical to successful applications for FEMA reimbursements. The advice was given during a webinar from the National Association of Counties on Monday. (To see the complete webinar and slide deck, click here .)

Among key points for Michigan county leaders as they prepare their applications:

  • Accounting for hours attributable to COVID is essential
  • Check HR policies and make sure they are clear on overtime and who the policies touch
  • It’s an ongoing situation, so may have to bring in new people to cover new areas and make sure the policy covers everyone (FEMA prefers a policy in place prior to event, but if not, still write it and formalize it ASAP)
  • Emergency and public transportation costs to consider include deep cleaning of vehicles or more vehicles for patrol due to separating officers
  • Costs associated with outreach/messaging to inform public that services are provided at temporary locations are FEMA-eligible

Other tips shared included:

  • “Show clear connective tissue” between your expenses and COVID-19 response, especially in Category B
  • Training for new staff or retrained staff, in Emergency Operation Centers, for example, are eligible costs
  • A good baseline in calculating amounts is the percentage share of your population to the statewide total
  • Think outside the box on such FEMA-eligible items as emergency transit vs. public transit.

FEMA policies will be a moving target because infectious disease response was not comprehensive, the presenters said. Counties are urged to be thorough with documentation and check policy guidance.

Webinars are now slated throughout May to help county officials navigate the reimbursement process. Click here for the schedule. PLEASE NOTE that local officials are REQUIRED to attend at least one of these sessions.

To obtain maximum benefit from the information presented at the briefing, counties should have representatives from its management, emergency response, public works, and accounting/finance/procurement operations and designate a primary point of contact to interact with the recipient and FEMA. Additional information on the Public Assistance Grant Program can be found in the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG) .

For more information, contact Deena Bosworth at