Whitmer extends order protecting jail population

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Sunday to extend protections for the jail and juvenile detention center populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order replaces a previous order that was put in place to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

Just like in the previous order, transfers into and from Michigan Department of Corrections facilities have been temporarily suspended. The governor’s order also allows more flexibility in releasing vulnerable inmates who do not pose a threat to public safety.

The order also has strong recommendations for juvenile detention centers to help reduce the spread of the virus.

“We continue to take action to protect all Michiganders from COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a statement. “That includes policies that protect incarcerated persons in our prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers. By keeping common-sense and safe protocols in place, we can mitigate risk, save lives, and get through this crisis together.” 

Also on Sunday, the governor signed an order to reduce the exposure of COVID-19 for both consumers and employees.

The order outlines strategies for food establishments, such as wearing a mask or face covering when entering. The order also says grocery stores and pharmacies must allow at least two hours per week of shopping time to vulnerable or at risk people. The order also requires businesses to notify employees if another employee tests positive for COVID-19.

Michigan recorded an additional 575 confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total statewide to 37,778.

Data released Sunday afternoon also shows another 41 deaths linked to coronavirus, bringing the total to 3,315.

The state says 8,342 people have recovered, meaning they are still alive a month after starting to have symptoms.

The outbreak is the worst in and around metro Detroit. Wayne County, including the city, has recorded 15,548 confirmed cases (200 more than the day previous) and 1,580 people have died (20 more than the day previous). Oakland County has 6,928 cases and 620 deaths. Macomb County has 5,203 cases and 520 deaths.

Kent County saw no new deaths, keeping the total at 32. It has reported 102 more cases than the day previously with a total of 1,031 cases.

In Genesee County, where Flint is, there are 1,467 cases and 161 deaths.

Within the Michigan Department of Corrections, 1,031 people have contracted the virus (an increase of five over the day previous) and 32 inmates have died (one more than the previous day).

Whitmer on Friday extended her stay-at-home order through May 15, though she immediately loosened some restrictions. Landscapers were allowed back to work and plant nurseries may reopen, while stores are permitted to resume selling things like paint and flooring. Places like gyms and movie theaters must stay closed and restaurants are still only allowed to have drive-thru, carryout or delivery. Notably, the revised order requires people to use masks while in places like grocery stores and employers must give their employees masks.

Whitmer says the extension of the order is meant to keep the number of coronavirus cases manageable and prevent what she says would be a “devastating” second wave of infections.

COVID-19 presents with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most who contract it, symptoms are mild. Though anyone can get it and anyone can develop a serious case, the people most at risk to develop severe complications are older people and those with preexisting health problems.

Everyone who has coronavirus symptoms and essential workers who are not showing symptoms can now get tested. You can find a testing location near you on the state’s website and get information on how to set up an appointment.

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