DHD#10 weighs in on contact tracing
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services responded to an uptick in the numbers of COVID cases and COVID related deaths, as well as the percentage of positive test results by extending and expanding the epidemic orders.
Part of the newly extended orders reduces from 500 persons to 50 persons the maximum gathering size for indoor gatherings such as weddings, parties, and banquets which occur in nonresidential settings without fixed seating.
“For bars, restaurants, and social events outside private homes, indoor party sizes at a single table are now restricted to six people. Because individuals remove their masks while eating and drinking in indoor settings, seated tables with people from different households create high risks of spread.
“Like many other businesses in Michigan, bars and restaurants will also be required to take names and contact information to support effective contact tracing if necessary. Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that visiting restaurants is a risk factor for COVID positivity, and currently there are 12 outbreaks in Michigan associated with bars or restaurants with currently active clusters up to 12 cases.”
Earlier this week District Health Department #10 the organization tasked with the mission of promoting the health of our communities announced exposures at restaurants in Newaygo and Mecosta counties.
What does this new directive mean locally where compliance with mask wearing continues to be an issue? Will patrons of our local eateries be willing to pass along their names and contact info in exchange for a menu? Will local restaurateurs comply with the directive and require their serving staff or seating staff to request such info given the reactions to mask wearing requirements some front line people at businesses have had to endure? What will be the response to those who choose to ignore the order?
The changes take effect Monday.
We received this from DHD#10 on Friday:
In the span of seven days, District Health Department #10 reported a total of 413 lab-confirmed and 23 probable COVID-19 cases in our ten-county jurisdiction. With each confirmed and probable case, there are often numerous close contacts that must also be identified and contacted, which falls to public health to complete. While DHD#10 is utilizing assistance from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) TraceForce program, as well as pulling in staff from other divisions within our agency to assist, we have reached capacity and are unable to promptly investigate every case and contact trace. Priority is being given to school aged children, residents and employees of long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools, large group settings, and other higher-risk situations.
“Cases of COVID-19 are higher than they have been at any point in this pandemic and continue to increase at alarming rates. We urge everyone to be empowered and choose to do the right thing by following what is laid out in the Epidemic Order,” stated Dr. Jennifer Morse, Medical Director for DHD#10. “Now is the time for all of us to take personal responsibility for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities to slow the spread of this virus.”
DHD#10 is asking the public for patience and to follow these guidelines:
If you were notified that you tested positive for COVID-19:
If you were notified that you were a close contact to a positive case:
For more information on COVID-19, go to www.dhd10.org/coronavirus. You can also send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initiative saves tax dollars
White Cloud, Michigan – Newaygo County is pleased to announce the successful refunding of its outstanding Series 2009A Unlimited Tax General Obligation Bonds which were issued in December 2009 to finance expansion of the Newaygo County Jail. In November 2020, the County will complete its issuance of $2,595,000 Series 2020 Refunding Bonds to refund the outstanding Series 2009A Limited Tax Building Improvement Bonds and pay the costs of issuing the Series 2020 Bonds.
This initiative, allowing the County to take advantage of historically low municipal bond interest rates, is a prime example of the ongoing efforts put forth to protect and maintain the fiscal health of the County. Kudos to Treasurer Moon, Administrator Wren and their respective staff members for the innovative thinking that allowed this idea to come to fruition.
Given the current low interest rates, the County was able to achieve a savings to the County of $163,844 with this re-financing. The true interest rates on the Series 2020 Refunding Bonds is 0.79%. The savings will provide lower debt costs until the final maturity of July 1, 2025.
It’s always exciting to participate in an effort to save tax dollars,” said County Treasurer Holly Moon. “The County’s strong credit rating coupled with the current low interest rates translated to an attractive outcome for our citizens.”
Reduces number of people who can visit in hospitals and outpatient care sites
Grand Rapids, Mich., Oct. 28, 2020 – As a result of significantly increasing numbers of patients admitted with COVID-19, Spectrum Health is revising its visitor policies to reduce the number of people in its Grand Rapids and regional hospitals and outpatient care sites.
Effective Thursday, Oct. 29, adult patients are allowed one adult family member or guest per patient. This must be the same person for the patient’s entire hospital stay. The following exceptions will apply:
The new restrictions apply to the following Spectrum Health hospitals and nearby physician offices and ambulatory care sites:
In addition, in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, all visitors will be screened and are required to wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose to enter the hospitals and outpatient facilities. Spectrum Health dining rooms will be closed to visitors. Hospital food service will be available in the cafeteria through to-go orders.
More information about visitor restrictions can be found here. Spectrum Health's COVID-19 resource center can be found here.
Northern Trails, Gypsy Nickel patrons warned of exposure dates
From our friends at the Health Department:
October 28, 2020 – District Health Department #10 was notified that two restaurants, one in Big Rapids and one in Newaygo, had individuals that tested positive for COVID-19 present and potentially contagious in their facilities. The Gypsy Nickel Lounge in Big Rapids had COVID-19-positive individuals present on October 15, 16 and 17. In Newaygo, Northern Trails Bar & Grill had COVID-19-positive individuals present on October 16 and October 22. These are considered high-risk exposures because individuals could have had close contact with a positive case that DHD#10 cannot identify or notify through contact tracing.
If you were at the above locations on the dates and times listed, you should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the possible exposure date. Anyone that is self-monitoring as a result should keep away from family, close contacts, and roommates as much as possible. COVID-19 symptoms include fever or chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and recent loss of taste or smell. Anyone experiencing one or more of these symptoms should immediately quarantine themselves and contact a medical provider.
DHD#10 will release information about high-risk public exposure sites when it is determined through investigation that it’s not possible to identify all close contacts. DHD#10 will no longer publish low-risk exposure sites where a COVID-19 positive individual was present but did not have close contact with others or we are able to notify close contacts through contact tracing. It is important to remember that approximately 40% of COVID-19 cases appear to be asymptomatic. Asymptomatic cases are especially difficult because they are not sick and therefore not staying home. Additionally, contagious individuals can spread virus prior to experiencing symptoms.
For more information about COVID-19, go to: www.dhd10.org/coronavirus, www.michigan.gov/coronavirus, or www.cdc.com/coronavirus.
Continuing COVID concerns caused cancellation
A little more than a month ago the Board of Public Works announced the cancellation of the Hazardous Waste Collection Day held the past few years at the Newaygo County Road Commission garage.
The collection day has traditionally been held in the spring but was moved to October 31 due to COVID concerns. The board ultimately made the decision to cancel for this year given the logistical difficulty involved in holding an event such as this within the boundaries of the recommended safety guidelines.
The BPW will consider the possibility of rescheduling for next spring depending on the status of the current health concerns.
Increased cases impacting capacity to respond
From our friends at DHD#10:
October 21, 2020 –District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) reports that positive COVID-19 cases are trending upwards throughout the jurisdiction, jumping significantly over the past two weeks in many of the counties served by DHD#10. This sudden increase is impacting the overall capacity for DHD#10 to respond in a timely manner to begin investigations and contact tracing.
Friday, October 16, saw the largest daily case count since COVID-19 first appeared in March. Every county in DHD#10’s ten-county jurisdiction reported cases totaling 64 positive COVID-19 cases in one day. On Monday, October 19, DHD#10 reported 106 positive cases that included numbers from Saturday, Sunday, and Monday combined – that’s 170 cases in a span of four days. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) did report a slowdown of results from a laboratory on Thursday, October 15, that may have contributed to the large numbers on Friday and possibly over the weekend. The capacity to respond quickly to positive cases is significantly impacted when you have such a large number of cases in a short period of time.
“We do our best to respond to positive cases as quickly as possible,” stated Kevin Hughes, Health Officer for DHD#10. “What we are dealing with this week is not only many positive cases, but also a substantially large number of close contacts to each case that must be contacted. For example, one positive case in a school can have upwards of 35 close contacts or more that all must be contacted. We ask for patience and understanding as we adjust staffing and increase our resources to manage our caseload."
Below is a breakdown of confirmed in each county from August, September, and the first 18 days of October.
CONFIRMED CASES AUG SEP OCT TOTAL % Increase between month of Aug. and first 18 days of Oct
JURISDICTION-WIDE 241 360 486 1087 102%
CRAWFORD 17 12 12 41 30%
KALKASKA 17 21 24 62 40%
LAKE 13 6 14 33 8%
MANISTEE 20 26 31 77 55%
MASON 22 13 42 77 110%
MECOSTA 30 134 152 316 407%
MISSAUKEE 7 15 14 36 100%
NEWAYGO 47 87 138 272 294%
OCEANA 33 21 41 95 24%
WEXFORD 35 25 18 78 49%
Now that fall is here, and winter is quickly approaching, many of us will find ourselves spending more time indoors. DHD#10 encourages everyone to continue practicing the necessary mitigation strategies to help keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe and healthy. Let’s all do our part to help reduce the risk of getting or spreading both COVID-19 and flu this season:
For more information on COVID-19, go to www.dhd10.org/coronavirus. You can also send questions to email@example.com.
State organization honors NC ROD
The year 2020 proved to be a challenging one as COVID-19 closed most county government offices for an extended period, even as real estate transactions continued and even increased in many areas of the state. Home sales boomed, especially in vacation areas, as did mortgage refinancing due to falling interest rates. Knowing that Michigan’s real estate economy would have ground to a halt otherwise, Registers of Deeds offices worked overtime to develop alternative systems to keep transactions, and Michigan’s economy, moving.
Newaygo County Register of Deeds Stewart Sanders, MARD’s 2020 president, was named by his colleagues as the Register of the Year for his leadership as MARD members navigated technological challenges posed by operating during COVID-19.
“It was a great honor to receive the Register of the Year award. I had a lot of support from our MARD board as we handled several tough issues. Everyone stepped up and did a great job. We will certainly be well represented with the new incoming board of skilled, dedicated public servants and as a result, MARD will be on the tight track moving forward into 2021,” said Sanders.
We caught up with a busy Mr. Sanders to pose a few questions to our resident president.
You became ROD in 2014 after a career in education.What led you to pursue the position?
My interest in local politics, surveying, and real estate started when I was younger as my father was engaged in local politics serving on the County Board of Commissioners, his survey business served as the Newaygo County Surveyor in the mid to late 60’s, and he also owned and managed Town and Country Real Estate. Being around this influence helped to foster my interest in these areas. When the position of Register of Deeds was posted as open with the retirement of Newaygo County Register Linda Landheer, I applied as the Register position embodies all 3 items I just outlined. I was fortunate to be appointed June 19, 2014 and elected in 2016.
What are the primary duties of a ROD?
Registers of Deeds all across the State of Michigan are charged with reviewing, recording, and maintaining the public record into perpetuity. The Register’s office is tasked to put on public record any recordable document following prescribed recording requirements set forth in Michigan law as the Register’s office is the legal repository for these documents. The analogy is much like a bank in that the bank teller scrutinizes checks and cash to make sure it is legal tender; we scrutinize documents affecting real property much the same way in making sure that these instruments follow Michigan recording requirements. The Register’s office is directly tied to the Title and Mortgage Industry; without the Register’s office, the Title Industry cannot perform its function thus no mortgage money is released. Last year (2019) our office recorded over $200,000,000.00 in conveyance documents with mortgages in which these dollars are released into the economy of Newaygo County.
You have been elected President of MARD. What is the vision of the organization and how does involvement in it benefit the people of NC?
Along with being elected President of the Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds (MARD) for 2020, I also Co-Chaired the Legislative Committee for 2 years. Being engaged in our state wide association allows me the opportunity to collaborate with our recording partners such as Michigan Land Title, Michigan Bankers, Michigan Credit Unions, and others along with State legislators to foster sound recording law. Issues such as Michigan’s predictable fee structure (flat fee for most recordable documents), e-recording of documents, and electronic-notary services are the most recent matters that I have worked on to help the residents of Newaygo County and the State of Michigan facilitate a safe, secure, cost effective, and convenient real property recording experience. One of the long range goals of MARD is to ensure that this collaboration with all of our recording partners results in continued sound recording practice.
The honor you received cited ‘navigating tech challenges by operating during COVID-19. What challenges, how were they met and what has (if anything) changed?
COVID-19. One of the main challenges we face as Registers of Deeds occurred in March of this year. As most of the State was shutting down to limit exposure to the virus, Registers offices all across the State faced new challenges of keeping offices processing documents. Register’s offices were deemed essential to the financial sector by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin along with the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. What transpired from that was a realization that each Register’s office would have to adapt to a new normal of recording documents. Some Counties were able to work remotely, some worked remotely and on site, and some still solely worked on site (which is what Newaygo County engaged in). One of the early challenges was Governor Whitmer’s early executive order EO-41 which allowed for documents to be electronically notarized using any of the new e-notary technologies so that residents wouldn’t have to appear in person. This is a medium we are seeing right now all across the State of Michigan as a result of dealing with COVID-19. Certainly the use of more technologies to record documents has kept all of us as Registers extremely busy.
What challenges lie ahead for the ROD department?
The Registers of Deeds offices across Michigan will be facing an ever changing technology world. Keeping abreast of these new technologies and to keep watch over the public record to make sure it is securely protected will be the charge of Registers on into the future.
Midmorning Friday between periods of sun N3 World Headquarters got a preview of coming attractions when the skies spewed out its frozen delights for several somewhat painful minutes.
LANSING. – Michiganders who desire to redeem their outstanding 10-cent deposit on bottles and cans will now be able to go to any retailer that accepts returns, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Effective immediately, all grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations and other retailers with bottle and can return facilities must open their return facilities, resume the collection of returnables and refund customer deposits.
Retailers that typically accept bottles and cans and provide deposits will be reopening their facilities, regardless of where such facilities are physically located, serviced by reverse vending machines, staffed by employees, or some combination of the two.
All retailers with return facilities must ensure that those facilities comply with all state-mandated safety protocols to protect both workers and the public under the emergency order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 9, 2020.
In addition, retailers may take any or all the following steps at their discretion:
Additional information about the expansion of bottle and can return opportunities can be found in the state Treasury Department’s “Notice Regarding Michigan’s Bottle Deposit Return Program.”
WHITE CLOUD, MI - The White Cloud Rotary Club recently inducted Amy Stockwell as its newest member in the Club. Amy is the recently appointed Director of the White Cloud Library replacing Nancy Harper, who is retiring soon. District Governor Jon Catlin performed the induction while visiting the Club recently. Jon joined the White Cloud Rotarians in welcoming Amy into the Club and all look forward to her contributions as a Rotarian.
White Cloud Rotary is a volunteer organization based on the principle of ‘Service Above Self’ and the advancement of high ethical standards, goodwill and civic responsibility. The Club meets every Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. at City of White Cloud Offices.
VanSingel, Bumstead condemn actions, praise law enforcement
A plot to kidnap the Governor went awry as 13 suspects were arrested after an undercover FBI initiative foiled their plot.
The alleged scheme included plans to overthrow several state governments.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that six people were charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap, and seven other people, associated with the militia group "Wolverine Watchmen," were charged by the state.
"The individuals in (state) custody are suspected to have attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war, and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan," Nessel said at a press conference.
“I'm horrified to learn of the plot to harm the governor,” said State Representative Scott VanSingel. “ Violence has no place in our nation's political process and I hope these individuals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“I'm proud of the law enforcement officers who uncovered this plot before it could be carried out.”
State Senator Jon Bumstead also condemned the action
“Threatening the governor’s life or plotting to kidnap her is appalling. Any policy or political differences that people may have with the governor, or any elected official, should be settled at the ballot box.
“Today’s news announcement confirms the importance of and need for our brave women and men in law enforcement. Their ability to protect not only our governor, but everyone in Michigan, is vital to ensuring we have safe communities throughout our state.
“I am grateful the governor and her family were able to stay safe through this shameful act, and I am thankful for the tireless work of our law enforcement who dedicate their lives to protect us all.”
At her press conference the Governor called out President Trump stating, “This should be a moment for national unity. Where we all pull together as Americans to meet this challenge head-on – with the same might and muscle that put a man on the moon. Seeing the humanity in one another and doing our part to help our country get through this.
“Instead – our head of state has spent the past seven months denying science. Ignoring his own health experts. Stoking distrust and fomenting anger. And giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.”
Whitmer also cited a speech by Ronald Reagan delivered in 1981:
“A few isolated groups in the backwater of American life still hold perverted notions of what America is all about. Recently in some places in the nation there's been a disturbing reoccurrence of bigotry and violence.I would like to address a few remarks to those groups who still adhere to senseless racism and religious prejudice, to those individuals who persist in such hateful behavior.
“You are the ones who are out of step with our society. You are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is America. And this country, because of what it stands for, will not stand for your conduct."
Here's the Skinny on the COVID Emergency Order issued Monday
From our friends at MDHHS:
On October 5, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an Emergency Order under the Public Health Code restricting gathering sizes, requiring face coverings in public spaces, and places limitations on bars and other venues.
The order covers the following categories:
In the Emergency Order, there are exceptions for Region 6 – Region 6 includes Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, and Emmet counties. Below is a breakdown of those exceptions.
All other categories spelled out in the Emergency Order are the same for all regions across the state.
The new Emergency Order is issued under MCL 333.2253 of the Public Health Code, which gives the director of MDHHS this authority. It states: “If the director determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the director by emergency order may prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws. Emergency procedures shall not be limited to this code.” This authority is not tied to the Executive Orders that were overruled by the Supreme Court. We expect additional guidance in the future.
In addition to the guidance above, we remind the community of the following:
District Health Department #10 wants to be sure that the public understands that basic public health work will continue unchanged. All basic public health operations including contact tracing, quarantines, and food and water sanitation are still required by law and must go on.
Please note that the new guidance issued is referred to as an “Emergency Order” and should not be confused with the "Executive Orders" vacated in a recent Supreme Court ruling. Persons with suggestions and concerns about this order are invited to submit comments via email to COVID19@michigan.gov.
This Ford Ranger is not an amphicar and likely wasn’t anticipating an October swim but when its driver lost control of her car the vehicle jumped a seawall and ended up in the waters of Hess Lake.
The driver and her passenger were unhurt, but the pickup is going to require some major drying out
And then...the rescue
Emergency order gives schools 24 Hours to inform their community of probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases
From our friends at MDHHS:
LANSING, MICH. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon issued an Emergency Order requiring K-12 schools to provide public notice to the school community about probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 24 hours.
The order requires local health departments to notify schools within 24 hours of learning of a probable or confirmed school-associated case of COVID-19. Upon notification, schools must provide public notification on a highly visible location on the school’s website that covers the impacted building or location within 24 hours. Schools are encouraged to provide information about measures in place at the school to prevent transmission of COVID-19, as well as measures that individuals can take to prevent transmission.
“Recent outbreaks throughout the country demonstrate that COVID-19 can spread quickly in the school setting,” said Gordon. “Timely communication from schools to parents, guardians, students, teachers, staff and other persons affiliated with schools enables members of the school community to take measures to prevent spread of the virus.”
In addition to the public notice, local health departments will continue to provide direct notification to individuals who are, or are suspected, of being a close contact of school-associated case.
This order goes into effect on Monday, Oct. 12. Information about school outbreaks is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus. Additional Epidemic Orders are available online.
Health Department Reissues Orders On Masks, Gatherings, Bars, Etc.
The response to the decision by the Michigan Supreme Court invalidating the executive orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic came quickly as Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon issued an Emergency Order that reestablishes those put into place by the Governor.
“Michigan was hit hard by COVID-19 early in the pandemic,” said Gordon. “Strict preventive measures and the cooperation of Michiganders drove those numbers down dramatically, greatly reducing the loss of life. As we head into flu season, this order is necessary to protect vulnerable individuals, ensure the health care system can provide care for all health issues, keep schools open, and maintain economic recovery.”
This order is effective immediately and remains in effect through Friday, Oct. 30. Individuals with suggestions and concerns are invited to submit comments via email to COVID19@michigan.gov.
Today’s orders largely reinstate, under the department’s authority, three major aspects of prior emergency orders:
From FPS Superintendent Ken Haggart:
Dear Fremont families:
You may have heard news reports about the latest decision of the Michigan Supreme Court stating, for a number of legal reasons, that the issuance by the Governor of executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer valid moving forward.
What does this mean for FPS?
First, the staff spent a lot of time putting together a “Preparedness and Response” plan for the 20-21 school year. The plan is a culmination of many different entities including the Governor’s leadership team, the many people including health experts and educators who put the Michigan Safe Start Plan together, and most importantly the state legislature which approved the process.
The FPS plan was finalized and approved by the Board of Education on August 15. We have been guided by this document for the first month of school.
After careful consideration, and unless or until we receive additional or other guidance from lawful authority, we will be maintaining our way through the 20-21 school year as is articulated in our “Return to School” plan adopted under the guidelines of the Safe Schools Roadmap and approved by the Board.
For the time being, we will continue to follow those plans and procedures as incorporated in the plan as it relates to COVID-19. This means we will continue all our current masking procedures that were in place during the first month of school, on buses, in classrooms, in hallways, at lunch, etc. At the K-5 level we will continue wearing masks using the same procedures we have had in place since school started, and not through the full school day.
Our primary concern is watching out for the safety and well-being of our kids, staff, and Fremont school community. As always if you have questions or concerns, please call at 924-2350, email, or stop by. And thanks for choosing Fremont Public Schools.
Allows for up to 59 weeks of unemployment benefits to those impacted by economic uncertainty created by COVID-19
LANSING- The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) today announced that the unemployment insurance benefits period has been lengthened under the Federal Extended Benefits (EB) program. The UIA implements the EB program that pays unemployment benefits during periods of high unemployment to workers who exhausted their basic entitlement to regular state and federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits. EB is a program that provides an extension of benefits to those who can establish/have established a state unemployment claim.
EB provides up to 20 weeks of additional benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular benefits (26 weeks maximum) and PEUC (13 weeks). Primarily federally funded, the EB program kicks in when the state’s unemployment rate averages 8% or higher for three consecutive months.
"The Extended Benefit program will provide a much-needed safety net for Michiganders who have exhausted their current benefits and are still dealing with the long-term effects of unemployment due to COVID-19," said UIA Director Steve Gray.
Eligibility for EB will be determined in the same manner as regular unemployment benefits. Claimants must be unemployed or underemployed and be able to work and available for work. The program’s weekly benefit amount is the same as the individual received for regular state unemployment insurance. Claimants can expect to be notified through their chosen communication method of the extension. They must continue to file their bi-weekly certification and will not need to complete a separate application.