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U.P. State Fair postponed

For Thursday, July 2.

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula State Fair, which was scheduled for Aug. 17-23 in Escanaba, will be postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was made by the U.P. State Fair Authority, which cited current crowd-size restrictions as a major reason for the postponement.

“While the State Fair Authority and the Delta County Chamber of Commerce are brokenhearted at the decision, we remain committed to the health and safety of the public,” said Phyllis French, chairwoman of the fair authority, in a news release. “Canceling the fair complies with the law imposed by the governor’s executive orders and is the right decision to make to support the fair’s future viability and success.”

The fairgrounds posted a response on Facebook from its carnival and midway operator, Skerbeck Entertainment Group.

“We fully support the decision of the U.P. State Fair Authority,” it read. “Although disappointing to all of us who love to gather with our friends and neighbors at the fair, the most important thing is to consider the safety and well-being of all our guests.

“The state’s regulatory licensing division is advising that carnival rides are not allowed to operate at this time and we want to comply with the best advice provided to us. Anyone who has purchased mega bands from us for this event will be refunded electronically before July 15. Next year’s fair will be really great, with new spectacular rides and we can’t wait to be back together with you in 2021.”

Results negative, but protocols urged

None of the 302 people tested on June 13-14 in Schoolcraft County tested positive for COVID-19, the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department announced.

The free drive-through testing was provided by the Michigan National Guard in partnership with LMAS District Health Department, Michigan State Police, Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Schoolcraft County Road Commission.

A total of 85% of those tested were over the age of 50. The largest single age group tested, ages 61-70, had 107 tests, accounting for more than 35% of the weekend total. Combining the three oldest age cohorts into one group — ages 71-93 — there were 116 people tested, accounting for 38% of the total.

Most of those tested reported that they have been staying home, always wearing a cloth face covering if they had to go out in public and maintaining physical distancing from those not in their households.

The smallest age group tested were those ages 18-39, representing only 8% of the total.

A current outbreak is under investigation in Chippewa and Mackinac counties. As of Tuesday, one additional COVID-19 case had been confirmed in Mackinac County. Contact tracing and investigation continues by LMAS and the Chippewa County Health Department.

Dates extended

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed Senate bills 876-878, which codify her previous executive orders, further extending the renewal dates for driver’s licenses, commercial driver’s license, state ID cards and vehicle registrations.

Among the extensions outlined in the legislation, those with driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations expiring between Feb. 1 and June 30 would have until Sept. 30 to have them renewed.

Funding appropriated

Whitmer on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 690, which appropriates nearly $880 million in federal funding to support various COVID-19 response actions across Michigan.

The supplemental budget includes a number of provisions that assist Michigan in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, help small business weather the difficult economic conditions created by COVID-19 and ensure that workers who put themselves at risk on the front lines are fairly compensated, including:

≤ a $2/hour increase for direct care workers;

≤ $125 million in grant funding to reduce the cost of child care for families;

≤ $100 million for hazard pay for local first responders and $200 million for local units of government;

≤ $100 million in small business restart grants;

≤ $60 million in rental assistance and eviction diversion;

≤ $25 million for wireless hot spots and enhanced connectivity;

≤ $18 million for health and safety grants for schools;

≤ $10 million in Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration grants for protections to keep workers safe on the job; and

≤ $14 million for food banks and domestic violence shelters.

Online test find tool launched

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new online test finder tool at Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest with filters that allow users to find the closest testing sites that meet their needs.

Using these new filters, Michiganders can locate test sites that are no cost, that test people who do not have symptoms, that do not require a doctor’s order, or are for uninsured individuals. For select testing sites, users can schedule an appointment online.

The department also announced it is working with Michigan 211 to help residents find test sites and register for testing over the telephone. Anyone who calls the Michigan COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136, and presses 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday will be transferred automatically to a 211 operator who can help the caller find testing sites and, for select sites, schedule an appointment.

New orders extended

Whitmer on Tuesday signed a pair of executive orders, which extend policies lifting certain requirements of the application process for young Michiganders to obtain a work permit and allowing local governments to use alternative means, other than mass mailings, to send out hearing notifications.

“It is important that young Michiganders — an essential part of our workforce — have an opportunity to find a summer job, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when many workers must stay home when experiencing symptoms or because they are part of a vulnerable population, and for local governments to continue serving their residents while also practicing social distancing to keep their employees safe,” Whitmer said in a news release.

Under Executive Order 2020-140, work permits required by the Youth Employment Standards Act can be mailed, emailed, faxed or sent via the web rather than the previously required in-person submission. This order takes effect immediately and continues through July 31.

Executive Order 2020-141 allows notice of any public hearing required to take place under a tax abatement statute may be provided electronically and by newspaper. This order is effective immediately and continues through July 31. Executive Order 2020-129 already permits tax abatement hearings to occur electronically.

Epidemic orders signed

MDHHS Director Robert Gordon has signed two epidemic orders that provide for expanded visitations at group facilities while also requiring precautions that protect public health.

The orders allow expanded visitation in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, and in facilities for youth who are in child-care institutions or juvenile justice facilities.

Visitors to these types of facilities have been temporarily restricted to slow the spread of COVID-19. The new orders provide exceptions to those restrictions in limited circumstances as long as the facilities meet specific safety requirements, such as requiring masks during visits.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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