In the wake of Friday afternoon’s Michigan Supreme Court ruling, counties are understandably eager for clarity on the legal/regulatory situation regarding COVID-19. MAC has consulted with legal counsel on these points. Below is where we think the situation stands.
Are the governor’s Executive Orders now invalid?
As of now, the Executive Orders remain in effect.
Can we hold a remote session of our board?
Yes, as the Executive Order allowing them remains in effect.
What comes next legally and procedurally?
Legal changes will likely need to be through the state cases, even if the judge in the federal case against the EOs issues an order in that case based on the new Michigan Supreme Court decision. Before that occurs, it may be anticipated that:
- The Whitmer administration may issue orders from the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies that may cover many of the same restrictions.
- Some of the pending legislation on some of these issues may be enacted (e.g., the proposed changes to the Open Meetings Act on remote meetings).
- The Legislature and the governor may seek to agree to revised Executive Orders.
- The Michigan Supreme Court may give some guidance as to the effective impact on the ruling on existing Executive Orders (retroactive, prospective, a mixture as to the changes’ effect). It is also noted that this is not a straight 4-3 decision; there are actually four differing opinions that also may have an impact on when the state cases are reviewed.
What should counties be doing right now in response?
Counties should be prepared to consider options for subsequent developments. For county/district health departments, this could include adopting appropriate local health department orders under the Health Code.
Much remains unclear/unresolved, such as impacts on previous remote meetings and decisions taken in them. MAC will be looking to answer those questions as soon as possible.
Our goal at MAC right now is to be a clearinghouse of best practices and tips for counties to use as we navigate the changed terrain. Some counties already have taken action at the local level:
- Ingham County: Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail issued four new emergency orders on Oct. 4 to “keep several COVID-19 protections in place."
- Oakland County: Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford issued one emergency health order on Oct. 3 that requires residents to wear face masks or coverings at any location apart from their home.
We expect that list to grow and will be monitoring and sharing results with you.
To expedite this, we ask you to:
Please remember in the weeks ahead to send us any resolutions your county board passes or health orders your health department adopts regarding COVID-19 response to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participate today in a brief (2-minute) survey on your immediate local health order situation.
Thank you for your assistance in these uncertain times.