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Local response to emergency order is critical

Starting today, Michigan restaurants, bars and casinos will be closed to indoor dining, with high schools, colleges and universities across the state required to move to remote learning under an emergency order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s a challenging transition, but one that is sadly necessary, as one in every 214 people in Michigan tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, according to data collected by the Associated Press.

And while it is not easy for educational institutions, businesses and organizations to adapt to the new requirements, we’ve been glad to see many local entities are ready to respond and alter how they deliver services for the safety of the community.

For example, Northern Michigan University officials addressed the move to remote learning, teaching and working – which was to take effect no later than 12:01 a.m. today, as required by the emergency order – and said the university had tools in place for the switch.

“Luckily, most of our university activities already have a remote option, so the state’s emergency order is not throwing us into a state of complete chaos for the final seven days of fall course(s),” NMU President Fritz Erickson wrote in a letter to the campus community.

“Still, I know this adds another layer of complexity to the semester’s end. Flexibility – we said in August how important it would be throughout the semester in order for us to be able to declare success when we got to the break. It was true in Week 1 and it continues to be true for these final days as well.”

While NMU’s switch is undoubtedly a massive undertaking due to the thousands of students in attendance, efforts by smaller institutions, organizations and businesses will also a challenging, yet key part of the response to the order.

And as individuals, we can also make a difference in how local entities handle this transition.

For one, we can safely support local restaurants and businesses during this period by ordering food or items for pick-up or purchasing gift cards.

We can also make sure to wear masks, practice good hand hygiene and maintain social distancing when we must enter a public space. These actions are critical for slowing the spread, and by extension, eliminating the need for extended or expanded pandemic-related restrictions.

And last, but not least, we encourage our readers to be patient and kind when interacting with staffers of the organizations that are operationally impacted by the order. This is a particularly challenging situation for those who are involved in making major operational changes for our safety amid the pandemic, and these workers deserve our utmost compassion and respect.

Stay safe, and stay kind, Superiorland. We all have an opportunity to make a difference and save lives in our community with the actions we take in the coming weeks.

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