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This is a joint statement by the Lenawee County Health Department, Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office, Lenawee County Prosecuting Attorney, and Lenawee County Administration with regard to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic and the public health guidance and steps necessary to reduce transmission of the virus.
The Michigan Supreme Court, in response to a request for certification from the Federal District Court, determined that Governor Whitmer’s executive orders to control the pandemic were unconstitutional. There was, and amongst some legal scholars continues to be, some question as to when the decision by the Supreme Court became effective. Operating on the advice of the Lenawee County Prosecuting Attorney, as legal counsel for Lenawee County, a press release on Tuesday, October 6th, provided notice that the executive orders were no longer valid.
That same press release identified emergency orders issued by the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that address some of the basic underlying public health concerns facing Michigan and Lenawee County residents. Those MDHHS orders provide for social distancing, face coverings, and limiting crowds sizes, which are all nationally recognized practices to limit spread of COVID 19.
The Michigan Public Health Code, under which the MDHHS orders were issued, is part of Michigan law and the orders are a legal extension of the MDHHS Director’s duties and obligations. They are issued to protect the public health and are the current law in Michigan. In Lenawee County, implementation of MDHHS’s emergency orders will be handled in a manner consistent with previous enforcement. It is possible that there will be challenges to the orders and, if so, they will play out in the courts.
Those legal issues are not the major concern of Lenawee County government as we face a public health crisis. More important is the recognition that COVID 19 is a real and present public health crisis in Lenawee County, the State of Michigan and this nation. From the first emergency declaration on March 24th, Lenawee County has consistently provided information about the pandemic and relied on objective data and public health professionals as the source of that information.
The health and safety of our families, friends, and community members is at the forefront of our thoughts and actions as we address this public health challenge.