Executive orders issued

New directives pertain to funeral homes, grocery stores, others

This pair of motorists isn’t taking any chances in the city of Marquette. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)


Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — An emergency order that shortens the time frame hospitals and funeral directors have to contact individuals with authority over the disposition of the body of a deceased individual has been issued by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon.

The order also shortens the amount of time that a person has to make a decision regarding arrangements for the deceased.

“The increase in deaths has placed a significant burden on the hospitals and funeral homes in our state,” Gordon said in a news release. “We need to alleviate this burden and ensure the safe, proper and respectful handling of Michiganders’ remains.”

For Tuesday, May 5.

The order provides hospitals and funeral directors 24 hours to attempt to contact persons with authority over disposition of the body of a deceased individual, including family members. If no such person can be located within that time, the duty falls to a county medical examiner.

The State Emergency Operations Center said it has determined COVID-19 has reached epidemic status in Michigan.

As of Monday, there were 43,950 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Michigan, with 4,135 deaths.

If a person with authority over the disposition of a body is identified, he or she has 48 hours from the time of death to make a decision and complete arrangements regarding disposition. Failure to act within 48 hours of notification forfeits the right to make that decision.

The order also relaxes certain licensing provisions for funeral directors, allows funeral directors and medical examiners to authorize embalming, and allows for storage of bodies at a temporary storage facility provided by the Michigan Mortuary Response Team or at an alternate site procured by the license holder.

Entry rules extended

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order that extends until May 31 the rules regarding entry to care facilities designed to protect vulnerable populations and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The order also requires employees of facilities covered by the order to wear face coverings while working within a facility.

“Right now the best we tool we have to save lives is to reduce person-to-person interaction,” Whitmer said in a news release. “That is why it is necessary to extend this order and put the health and safety of Michiganders first. I hope everyone in Michigan continues to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of the staff and those under a facility’s care, the order prohibits any visitors who are not necessary or essential to the services of care from entering health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities and juvenile justice facilities.

The order also requires a health screening before entering a facility covered by the order.

Safety measures extended

Whitmer signed an executive order that extends existing safety measures to protect consumers and employees at grocery stores and pharmacies until May 29. The order also extends temporary relief from licensing requirements for food sellers and pharmacies.

The executive order extends, to May 29, conditions in a previous order that established the following health and safety guidelines:

≤ Customers who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one when entering a grocery store or pharmacy.

≤ Grocery stores and pharmacies must allocate at least two hours per week of shopping time for vulnerable populations.

≤ If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the business must notify other employees without infringing on private health information.

Food sellers must also continue doing the following:

≤ Require checkout employees to wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth.

≤ Ensure both employees and customers remain at least six feet apart.

≤ Close self-serve food stations such as salad bars, and eliminate free samples and tasting stations.

≤ Adopt procedures to meet federal environmental cleaning guidelines, including continuously cleaning and disinfecting frequent touch points, such as point-of-sale terminals at registers, shopping carts and shopping baskets.

≤ Prohibit employees who are sick from reporting to work and send employees home if they display COVID-19 symptoms.

≤ Accommodate employees who fall within a vulnerable population by providing lower-exposure work assignments or giving them the option to take an unpaid leave of absence.

≤ Develop and implement a daily screening program for all staff upon or just prior to reporting to work sites.

Hike extended

The North Country Trail Association is extending its #hikefromhome program for the Hike 100 Challenge through the end of this month. As long as stay-at-home orders are in effect, all miles will count toward the Hike 100 Challenge, including those traveled in backyards, around homes, on treadmills and on neighborhood walks.

The program challenges participants to hike any 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

Christie Mastric can be reached at cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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