Order prohibits employer retaliation for sick days, unemployment extension urged
MARQUETTE — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed an executive order prohibiting employers from discharging, disciplining or retaliating against employees who choose to stay home when they or their close contacts are sick.
Executive Order 2020-172 protects employees who stay home when sick from retaliation and comes after the $600 federal pandemic unemployment benefit expired.
“COVID-19 is still a very real threat to our families, our front-line workers and our economy, and it’s crucial that anyone who experiences any of the symptoms of this virus stay home,” Whitmer said in a statement. “These protections will help to slow the spread of the virus and save lives, but we still need the federal government to work together in a bipartisan way to expand unemployment benefits and provide support for our workers and their families.”
Under the executive order, employers must treat employees who stay home when they are sick as if they were taking medical leave. Any and all Michiganders who test positive for COVID-19 or who display one or more of the principal symptoms should stay home.
Executive Order 2020-172 clarifies that a worker should stay home if they have a fever, an uncontrolled cough and shortness of breath, or at least two of the following not explained by a known medical or physical condition: loss of taste or smell, muscle aches, sore throat, severe headache, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Individuals must remain home until 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without medication or 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared or were tested positive.
As a rule, if an individual has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or has had close contact with a confirmed positive case, he or she should leave their home only for essential trips to obtain food, medicine or medical care. They also may leave to partake in an outdoor activity such as walking, hiking, running, cycling or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least 6 feet from others.
Bay Mills contributes funds to schools
The Bay Mills Indian Community recently contributed more than $60,000 in support funds to two local schools to assist in response efforts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ojibwe Charter School received $33,320 and Brimley Area Schools received $30,800 from the BMIC COVID-19 Educational Response Fund. The funds from the tribe are part of an allocation received from the federal government under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
“We understand parents, students and faculty are concerned about reopening schools this fall,” Bay Mills Tribal Chairman Bryan Newland said in a statement. “We wanted to help our local school districts provide a safer learning environment for our kids, and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in our communities.”
These funds, he said, will make it easier for kids to learn from home and help make classrooms safer for teachers.
Each school submitted a needs list that qualified them for the funds, with both schools considered BMIC’s “neighbors,” the community said. The Brimley school district is near the reservation’s boundaries and OCS is in the heart of the BMIC.
BAS plans to use the funds for air purifiers and cameras for virtual learning. OCS plans to purchase several items, including water bottle-filling stations, a Clorox 360 machine, air purifiers, cameras for virtual learning and plexiglass dividers for desks.
“We would like to thank Bay Mills Indian Community for their help and support throughout the pandemic,” OCS Superintendent Stephanie Vittitow said in a statement. “The tribe has offered to help out with specific COVID-related expenses our district has incurred, as well as offered COVID testing for our students and staff.
“We truly appreciate their outreach in order to make our school year as safe as possible for our students, staff and community members.”
BMIC was awarded just over $8 million in CARES Act funds earlier this summer. From that total, nearly half is being allocated to help area residents and employees get through the pandemic.
According to Northern Michigan University reporting, a total of 37 positive COVID-19 cases had been discovered as of Thursday afternoon. These include 24 on-campus students, 10 off-campus students and three employees.
Of the 150 beds NMU has set aside for quarantine and isolation, 52 were occupied as of Thursday afternoon.
The dashboard can be found at https://nmu.edu/safe-on-campus/.
Testing in Sault Ste. Marie Saturday
The Michigan National Guard will continue its partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments to offer COVID-19 testing this week in Sault Ste. Marie and several downstate communities.
The testing will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday at Lake Superior State University, 650 W. Easterday Avenue.
The Michigan National Guard has more than 20 trained testing teams ready to assist with community COVID-19 testing initiatives. These three-member teams include a certified medic to conduct the testing and two members to assist with paperwork, logistics and nonmedical tasks. All team members from the Michigan National Guard have tested negative for COVID-19 and have been following strict medical protocols.
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org