Governor bans assemblies of 250 or more people in Michigan beginning Friday

Published: Mar. 13, 2020 at 11:56 AM EDT
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(3/13/2020) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is banning all events with more than 250 in attendance beginning Friday evening until April 5.

The order bans more than 250 people from assembling in the same shared space beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.

Industrial or manufacturing facilities, mass transit facilities and stores are exempt from the rule.

“This is about protecting the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus,” Whitmer said. “My administration will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread, and to ensure our children, families, and businesses have the support they need during this time.”

Michigan has 12 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus, including 10 announced Thursday evening.

Whitmer already ordered a three-week closure of all K-12 schools across the state from March 16 to April 5. Most colleges and universities have closed and moved their classes to online for several weeks.

Child care facilities, including those attached to K-12 schools, will be allowed to remain open during the three-week school closure.

Genesee County is not declaring a public health emergency because no confirmed cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed here.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Martin Cousineau said he will consider declaring an emergency if coronavirus is diagnosed in the county. His decision would be based totally on public safety.

“The decision will be made on the health of the community. The dollars will follow after that,” Cousineau said.

John McKellar, health officer with the Genesee County Health Department, said 17 people have been tested for coronavirus so far. Of those, nine have come back negative and results are pending for eight.

He reiterated that handwashing is the most effective preventative measure for avoiding coronavirus. Everyone should wash hands often, rubbing soap for 20 seconds and rinsing with warm water.

Other preventative measures include avoiding touching faces with unwashed hands, avoiding handshakes, staying home whenever you feel sick and frequently cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

The health department is not offering tests for coronavirus. Only primary care physicians are doing testing, but only if certain symptoms are present, McKellar said.

Patients with no symptoms of coronavirus are not getting tested.

The test consists of a swab, which is sent to a state or commercial laboratory. Results typically take 24 hours to five days.

McKellar said people should avoid going to an emergency room unless they are experiencing a medical emergency. The health department is hoping to set up a phone answering center by Monday to help anyone with health questions.