Business remains restricted, school buildings to stay closed
Thu, 03/26/2020 - 1:29pm caleb
Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21 places further limits on activity and travel, Executive Order 2020-35 ends ‘in-person instruction for pupils in K through grade 12 for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year’
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
We are doing this because it is absolutely necessary to protect the health of our people. The goal is simple. Stay home. Stay safe. Save lives. Stopping the spread of this virus is really the most important tool that we have right now to keep our communities safe. Without aggressive additional measures, more people will get sick, more people will die, and our economy will suffer longer. We must do more to curtail community spread so our health system has a fighting chance." – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
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In Michigan, and in many other states across the United States, many places of business and locations for public gathering are closed due to continued efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness believed to have originated in China. Its symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control, include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. In the United States, the CDC – as of April 6 – is reporting more than 330,000 cases of coronavirus with 8,910 deaths from the disease. The State of Michigan is reporting 15,718 cases with 617 deaths in the state, according to www.michigan.gov (as of April 6).
Last week, on Monday, March 23, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new Executive Order, number 2020-21, which placed further limits on activity and travel within the state.
“We are doing this because it is absolutely necessary to protect the health of our people. The goal is simple. Stay home. Stay safe. Save lives,” Gov. Whitmer said.
Executive Order 2020-21 continues many restrictions put in place by previous executive orders, including a ban on public gatherings in general and limiting restaurants to carry-out only.
“Stopping the spread of this virus is really the most important tool that we have right now to keep our communities safe. Without aggressive additional measures, more people will get sick, more people will die, and our economy will suffer longer,” Gov. Whitmer said. “But if we all do our part and simply stay home, we have a shot at helping our healthcare system meet our needs, because this disease can’t spread person to person if we’re not out there.”
“We can slow the spread of COVID-19, but right now too many people are out and about unnecessarily,” Gov. Whitmer said. “We must do more to curtail community spread so our health system has a fighting chance.”
Executive Order 2020-21 is valid through April 13.
An earlier executive order from the governor forced the closure of Michigan schools from March 16 through April 5. Executive Order 2020-21 extended the duration of the closure for another week.
On Thursday, April 2, Gov. Whitmer announced Executive Order 2020-35, putting an end to the 2019-2020 school year with regard to “in-person learning,” “unless restrictions on public gatherings and use of school buildings are lifted before the end of the 2019-2020 school year.”
“K-12 school sports activities and other in-person extracurricular school activities are suspended while any state of emergency or state of disaster prompted by COVID-19 is in effect,” according to Executive Order 2020-35.
The executive order offers school districts an opportunity to come up with their own plans for alternates to “in-person learning” such as teaching through online methods.
School district employees “will be paid for the remainder of the school year,” Gov. Whitmer said.
Executive Order 2020-35 provides a series of steps for high school students scheduled to graduate in 2020.
“A district shall implement a process to issue grades to pupils in grade 12, award credits needed for graduation, provide for completion of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, issue diplomas to pupils in grade 12, and reflect continued learning by pupils in grade 12 pursuant to this order,” according to Executive Order 2020-35.
Districts also have to create their own plans for students with special needs.
“Districts shall strive in good faith and to the extent practicable, based upon existing resources, technology, training, and curriculum, as well as the circumstances presented by any state of emergency or state of disaster, to provide equal access to alternative modes of instruction to students with disabilities for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” according to Executive Order 2020-35.
Crawford AuSable School District officials are working with COOR ISD on a plan to move forward, and the district has posted a basic outline of its “distance learning” intentions, a list that includes online options, paper packets, and working with students by telephone.
“In the coming week, buildings will be finalizing plans to rollout information to families regarding these opportunities. How we interact will change for the time being. We will all have to learn how to do some new things and how to do some old things in new ways,” said Justin Gluesing, CASD Superintendent. “COOR ISD must approve our local district plans, and we will be working with our ISD partners to finalize these details. These plans must be in place not later than April 28, but we know learning activities will scale up more quickly for our district. All families should expect learning engagement to be started not later than the week of April 13. Again, there are many details yet to be worked out, and we are prepared to adjust where necessary to meet the needs of our students and families.”
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Michigan High School Athletic Association, at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday, April 3, announced that it is cancelling the winter sports tournaments that were suspended on March 12 and it is cancelling the 2020 spring sports season.
“The Michigan High School Athletic Association has canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 winter and spring sports seasons, in compliance with the Thursday (April 2) ‘state of disaster’ directive by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closing school buildings and moving education online for the remainder of the school year to help decrease the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” according to MHSAA officials. “This will be the first school year to not see MHSAA Finals played in multiple sports since 1942-43, when World War II led to the elimination of finals in most sports.”
“We are heartbroken to not be able to provide these opportunities for Michigan’s student-athletes, and especially seniors. We continue to hear from dozens asking us to hold out hope. But safety always must come first, and Governor Whitmer is making courageous decisions to safeguard the people of our state,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We understand as much as anyone how much school sports mean to athletes and their communities. We had ideas and hopes for finishing Winter and Spring and helping bring some sort of normalcy after this long break. But this is the correct decision, and we will play our part in bringing schools and communities together again when the time is right. For now, we cannot state strongly enough that all students, staffs and others follow the guidelines established to slow the spread of this virus – we all must do our part.”
For the uncompleted winter sports playoffs, MHSAA officials said unfinished tournaments will not have champions for the season.
“Because the five winter sports were not able to conclude with finals, no champions will be awarded in those sports for 2019-20. However, championships won at earlier rounds of those tournaments (district or regional) will continue to stand,” MHSAA officials said.
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Kirtland Community College has extended its campus closure through April 13 in order to comply with Executive Order 2020-21.
“As we await further direction from the state government and recommendations from the CDC, we continue to monitor the situation and evaluate the safest date for reopening. College administration will have updated information as soon as possible, before April 14,” according to www.kirtland.edu/coronavirus.
Kirtland’s commencement ceremony slated for May 1 has been postponed. The college has also postponed new student orientation, which was scheduled for May 5, “until further notice.”
“We understand these times of uncertainty are difficult for our entire Kirtland community, especially students who are working hard to achieve their academic goals. Please know that the Board of Trustees is doing everything in our power to make decisions that keep you safe and help you stay on track to graduate. As we continue hearing stories from Kirtland of innovative instruction, support students are giving each other, and selfless acts of service, we’re encouraged by how strong our community is. We will get through this, together,” said MaryAnn Ferrigan, Kirtland Board of Trustees Chairperson.
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The Crawford County library facilities – the Devereaux Memorial Library and the Frederic Community Library – have also extended their closures through April 13.
“Governor Whitmer has issued Executive Order 2020-20 (COVID-19) which extends the closure of libraries through April 13, 2020. We will reopen Tuesday, April 14, subject to change due to current events and/or construction. We encourage everyone to take the recommended precautions to stay safe and healthy during this time,” according to www.crawfordco.lib.mi.us. “Interlibrary loans via MelCat have been suspended. Fines will be suspended during this time. Downloadable eBooks, audio books, and streaming videos are still available.”
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The Crawford County Building/Courthouse “has closed all buildings to the public. At this time we are asking the public to conduct any necessary business with the county via alternative means such as using this website (www.crawfordco.org), the US Postal Service, email, fax, and/or telephone,” according to www.crawfordco.org.
According to the court system, “while the court offices are closed, staff will be available by telephone to address emergency matters: Circuit Court – Criminal/Civil/PPO (989) 344-3206; FOC – Domestic Relations/Custody/Parenting Time/Support (989) 344-3272; Juvenile Division – Child Neglect or Abuse/Juvenile Delinquency (989) 344-3239; Probate – Guardianship/Conservatorship/Mental Health Petitions (989) 344-3237; District Court – Criminal Matters/Arraignments (989) 344-3240. All after hours emergency matters will be handled by calling (989) 348-6341.”
More information is available at www.crawfordco.org and courts.michigan.gov.
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Local municipalities – the City of Grayling, Grayling Charter Township, Lovells Township, Frederic Township, Beaver Creek Township, Maple Forest Township, and South Branch Township – have closed their offices to the public and are trying to conduct business through alternate means such as telephone and email.
For more information on each individual municipality, these are their websites and phone numbers:
• City of Grayling – www.cityofgrayling.org, (989) 348-2131
• Grayling Charter Township – www.twp.grayling.mi.us, (989) 348-4361
• Lovells Township – www.lovellstownship.com, (989) 348-9215
• Frederic Township – www.frederictownship.org, (989) 348-8778
• Beaver Creek Township – www.beavercreektownship.com, (989) 275-8878
• Maple Forest Township – www.mapleforest.org, (989) 348-5794
• South Branch Township – www.southbranchtownship.com, (989) 275-8232
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The Crawford County Road Commission office is currently closed to the public. The Road Commission has also suspended “non-essential” projects.
“The Crawford County Road Commission is suspending all non-essential infrastructure and maintenance work during the COVID-19 outbreak per Governor Whitmer’s executive order to ‘stay home, stay safe.’ The Crawford County Road Commission will continue to monitor the safety of our roads as this pandemic runs its course. The Road Commission is still under contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation to maintain their highways as well as ensuring our local roads remain navigable. Our staff will be working remotely to assist our residents. Please contact us via phone (989) 348-2281 extension 11 or email to email@example.com,” according to www.crawford-crc.com.
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For restaurants and bars, the governor’s directives have banned dining room service; however, Executive Order 2020-20 does allow restaurants to serve customers through “delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service.” Grocery stores and other places that sell food are allowed to stay open so people can pick up supplies.
Executive Order 2020-21 allows Michigan residents “to obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves, their family or household members, and their vehicles. Individuals must secure such services or supplies via delivery to the maximum extent possible. As needed, however, individuals may leave the home or place of residence to purchase groceries, take-out food, gasoline, needed medical supplies, and any other products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operation of their residences.”
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Executive Order 2020-20 mandated the closure of “non-essential personal care services” such as hair salons, tanning facilities, and nail care businesses, among others. It also orders the closure of exercise facilities, theaters, museums, and other “places of public amusement.”
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Local banks and credit unions have closed their lobbies to the public, but they are still offering service with drive-through and ATM options.
Executive Order 2020-21 outlines a variety of exceptions with regard to business closures.
The list includes people whose jobs involve healthcare, law enforcement, safety, food, energy, water, transportation, communications, and “financial services,” among others, according to the order.
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Michigan’s Secretary of State offices “are temporarily closed until further notice,” according to www.michigan.gov.
“Customers can still complete certain transactions online at Michigan.gov/ExpressSOS, although processing may be delayed. All transactions that cannot ordinarily be completed online will be temporarily suspended. All Secretary of State offices will be closed through the duration of Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order. Customers should anticipate branch offices will not be reopened prior to April 23,” according to www.michigan.gov.
For a while, Secretary of State offices tried to function on a “by appointment only” basis, but they are no longer doing so.
“All appointments previously scheduled to take place during the temporary closure have been canceled. Customers whose appointments were impacted by the cancelation were sent an email with instructions for rescheduling,” according to www.michigan.gov.
Transactions through the mail to the Secretary of State offices are also suspended during the closure.
“Transactions cannot be completed by mail during the temporary Secretary of State office closure. Please do not attempt to complete your transaction by mail during this period. Your transaction will not be processed while our offices are closed and may be delayed once offices are reopened. Transactions mailed before the closure will be processed when mail operations resume,” according to www.michigan.gov.
The State of Michigan is working on a solution to the issue of expiring driver’s licenses and registrations during the closure. Late fees have been eliminated during this time, according to the state.
“Our department continues to work with Governor Whitmer’s administration to explore the option for extending expiration dates for state identification, vehicle registrations, and other vital documents obtained through the Michigan Department of State. While we are bound by state law and cannot currently provide extensions, our department has waived late fees during this time. We have notified the Michigan State Police that our offices are closed and asked them to notify local law enforcement agencies across the state and exercise discretion as this may impact drivers’ ability to update their licenses and vehicle registration,” according to www.michigan.gov.
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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is cancelling events and closing its buildings to the public.
“We have closed public access to many facilities and are canceling all group events and programs until further notice. In addition, we are closing customer service centers and field offices to the public,” according to www.michigan.gov.
Also, the DNR is not issuing burning permits for now.
“Less open burning means less potential for escaped fires, and that means staff can deal with other more critical needs. Open burning in some parts of the state may still be allowed in areas where the ground is still snow-covered. In the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula, permits are issued through Michigan.gov/BurnPermit. Residents are encouraged to frequently check the website to see when restrictions are lifted,” according to www.michigan.gov.
The current executive orders in place do not disallow fishing; however, charter fishing trips are not permitted, according to the DNR.
“Charter and fishing guide operations that involve boats, canoes, and other marine vessels are not currently permitted. These activities should cease immediately and not resume until at least April 13,” according to www.michigan.gov.
State parks in Michigan are open for now with some restrictions.
“State parks, recreation areas, trails, and other state-managed lands remain open, provided all visitors adhere to the requirement for proper social distancing – at least six feet between yourself and another person,” according to www.michigan.gov. “If it becomes evident that people are not practicing effective social distancing while visiting these state-managed resources, we will close them to protect the health of our visitors and our staff.”
“State park headquarters buildings and contact stations are closed to the public. All bathroom buildings and vault toilets are closed. Playgrounds located in state parks and recreation areas are closed until further notice,” according to www.michigan.gov.
Camping is closed.
“All Michigan state parks campgrounds are closed through at least April 13. All Michigan state forest campgrounds are closed through at least April 13. Dispersed camping on public lands is closed through at least April 13,” according to www.michigan.gov. “We will not be able to honor camping reservations for dates between March 24 and April 13. Reservations for that time frame will automatically be canceled. Those reservation holders will receive full refunds, including the reservation fee paid at the time reservations were made.”
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District Health Department #10 offices are closed through April 13.
“We will provide emergency services by appointment only,” according to www.dhd10.org. “There will be signage at each building to direct those with appointments on what to do when they arrive. Please contact your local DHD#10 office to schedule an appointment.”
“At this time, and due to the likelihood that individuals have been in public places but unaware that they have COVID-19, DHD#10 suggests that everyone assume they have been exposed to someone with the virus. Please follow CDC Guidelines (at www.cdc.gov) and monitor your symptoms. If symptoms become severe, please contact your medical provider for further instructions,” according to www.dhd10.org.
District Health Department #10, as of April 6, listed 32 “positive COVID-19 cases in DHD#10 jurisdiction” including cases in Crawford County, Kalkaska County, Manistee County, Mecosta County, Missaukee County, Newaygo County, Oceana County, and Wexford County, according to www.dhd10.org. DHD#10 reported four deaths from COVID-19 in its area, as of April 6.
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The Crawford County Commission on Aging & Senior Center “will be closed to the general public until further notice,” according to the Crawford County Commission on Aging, but the COA “will continue to staff the office Monday (through) Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you need assistance, please call the office at (989) 348-7123.”
Many COA activities have been halted, but some programs will continue.
“All activities, events, classes, and trips have been suspended until further notice,” but “Congregate Meals will continue to be offered Monday through Friday on a curbside take-out basis from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meals can be picked up at that time for both lunch and dinner as well as meals for the weekend. Please call the COA at (989) 348-7123 to order your meal for take-out,” COA officials said.
“Meals on Wheels will continue to be delivered on an alternative schedule. Telephone reassurance calls will continue to be made to clients at home for safety checks. In-Home Services will continue to be offered with priority given to our clients in greatest need,” according to the COA.
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The Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce closed its “office to walk-in traffic until further notice,” according to graylingchamber.com. “We will still be available to assist our business members and community via phone and email inquiries.”
The phone number for the Chamber of Commerce is (989) 348-2921. Email addresses are: Traci Cook, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org; Hayley Strohpaul, Event Coordinator, email@example.com.
The Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo “has been postponed and rescheduled for May 19.”
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The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter had a period of “appointment only” but now it is closed following the governor’s Executive Order 2020-21.
“Our shelter will be closed to all non-essential employees and activities effective Tuesday, March 24, through the duration of this public health emergency. Please, do not attempt to visit the shelter. Adoptions and fostering are suspended at this time – those currently fostering animals may continue to do so, or return the animals to the shelter. Please make arrangements to return animals by calling the shelter; do not visit the shelter without speaking with our staff,” the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter said on its Facebook page.
“Stray animals will only be accepted from the Crawford County Animal Control. Please contact Animal Control at 989-344-3273. Do not bring stray animals to the shelter,” the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter said on its Facebook page. “We are not able to accept owner surrenders at this time. If you are in need of support to keep your pet at home, please reach out to us and we will try to help with resources. We understand this crisis is going to create hardship for many pet owners in our community. Please, reach out to us if you need help with resources for your pet, and we will do our best to help. We would rather your pet be home with you than in our shelter.”
If you need to contact the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter, the number is (989) 348-4117.
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One exception in Executive Order 2020-21 allows for people “to engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household,” and most of Hanson Hills Recreation Area is still open for use by the public.
Hanson Hills has a large trail system for hiking and cycling, a softball field, two disc golf courses, and a kids’ fishing pond for public use. The playground and the lodge at Hanson Hills, however, are closed. Also, with the lodge closed and no outdoor portable toilets in place, Hanson Hills currently does not have any bathrooms available to the public.
“Disc golf, the trails are open for use,” said Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority and Hanson Hills. “As far as the grounds and the trails and the softball fields, if people want to enjoy the outdoors they can do that at Hanson Hills. The hill is very much available for outdoor use.”
Andre said people must adhere to the social distancing guidelines outlined by the State of Michigan, staying at least six feet from others while using the outdoor facilities at Hanson Hills Recreation Area.
So far, Hanson Hills has only two schedule changes. The Easter Eggstravaganza slated for Saturday, April 4, has been cancelled. Also, the Ragnar Michigan Trail Relay has been moved from its original date of June 27-28 to September 4-5.
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The governor’s executive orders do not specifically order churches to close for services, but one of them – No. 2020-11 – says “all assemblages of more than 50 people in a single indoor shared space and all events of more than 50 people are prohibited.”
Executive Order 2020-11 encourages “electronic communication platforms in lieu of in-person interaction as feasible,” and many area churches are offering their services online via Facebook or YouTube.
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Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital still has visitor restrictions. The full list is available at www.munsonhealthcare.org.
“Visitors who enter any Munson Healthcare facility will be screened. Please be prepared to answer questions about your current health, travel history, and contact with people exhibiting signs of COVID-19. Every individual must wash hands or use alcohol sanitizer before and after leaving any rooms as well as the Munson Healthcare facility,” according to www.munsonhealthcare.org.
The hospital is asking people to avoid medical facilities if possible.
“If you are mild to moderately sick, health officials at the Health Department and Munson Healthcare ask that you please stay home and take care of yourself. For conditions that can be classified as more severe and would require a healthcare visit, please follow this process: Call your healthcare provider before you visit any healthcare facility. Do not go to the Emergency Room unless you are sick enough to require emergency care. Your primary care provider will give you direction regarding testing. A doctor’s order is required for COVID-19 testing,” according to www.munsonhealthcare.org.
Munson Healthcare has added a “COVID-19 Tracker” to its website at www.munsonhealthcare.org/services/community-health/covid19/new-coronavirus-(covid-19). It has a table that lists the number of patients tested for COVID-19, number of patients who’ve tested positive, number of patients who’ve tested negative, number of pending tests, and number of positive testing patients who are in one of the system’s hospitals.
“These numbers are updated daily with the most recent and accurate reporting available. We hope this information, which reflects patients tested at Munson Healthcare hospitals only, will be helpful to you in understanding the impact of this pandemic on our communities. We also would like you to be aware that these numbers do not reflect the current number of people with COVID-19 in your community. This is due to the amount of time required to obtain test results. In addition, many have still not been tested and COVID-19 is spreading in northern Michigan, even among people with no known history of exposure or travel to places where the disease is prevalent,” according to Munson Healthcare.
The COVID-19 Tracker includes eight facilities: Cadillac Hospital, Charlevoix Hospital, Grayling Hospital, Kalkaska Memorial Health Center, Manistee Hospital, Munson Medical Center, Otsego Memorial Hospital, and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital.
As of April 5, the Munson Healthcare COVID-19 Tracker listed 897 patients tested, 81 positive tests, 645 negative tests, 171 pending tests, eight currently hospitalized patients, and seven deaths.
For regular updates on the coronavirus situation in Crawford County, visit our website at www.crawfordcountyavalanche.com.