Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities
during the COVID-19 pandemic
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. It is caused by a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans and easily spread from person to person. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this disease.
On March 10, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. On that same day, I issued Executive Order 2020-4. This order declared a state of emergency across the state of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, 1976 PA 390, as amended, MCL 30.401 et seq., and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, 1945 PA 302, as amended, MCL 10.31 et seq.
In the three weeks that followed, the virus spread across Michigan, bringing deaths in the hundreds, confirmed cases in the thousands, and deep disruption to this state’s economy, homes, and educational, civic, social, and religious institutions. On April 1, 2020, in response to the widespread and severe health, economic, and social harms posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I issued Executive Order 2020-33. This order expanded on Executive Order 2020-4 and declared both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the state of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945.
The Emergency Management Act vests the governor with broad powers and duties to “cop[e] with dangers to this state or the people of this state presented by a disaster or emergency,” which the governor may implement through “executive orders, proclamations, and directives having the force and effect of law.” MCL 30.403(1)-(2). Similarly, the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 provides that, after declaring a state of emergency, “the governor may promulgate reasonable orders, rules, and regulations as he or she considers necessary to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation within the affected area under control.” MCL 10.31(1).
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a particularly dire threat to the health and safety of both residents and employees of long-term care facilities. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect the public health, and provide essential protections to vulnerable Michiganders, it is crucial to limit in-person contact as much as possible and, for those in-person services and interactions that must occur, to engage in social distancing and other mitigation practices. For the residents of long-term care facilities to receive the care they need, however, the residents and staff of the facilities must share close quarters and interact in person regularly, and limitations on access to personal protective equipment only make it more difficult for these in-person interactions to be carried out safely. Due to the nature of the care provided in long-term care facilities and the vulnerable status of their residents, the risk of harm posed by a single positive case of COVID-19 to the entire facility—residents and staff—is inordinately high. As a result, it is reasonable and necessary to afford limited and temporary relief from certain rules and procedures so as to provide enhanced protections for residents and employees of long-term care facilities during this unprecedented crisis.
Acting under the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and Michigan law, I order the following:
Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the State of Michigan.