No changes in phases or regulations announced as governor gives update to state on Friday

Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula still in Phase 5, rest of the state remains in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, during an update to the state on Friday, August 14, did not announce any phase changes for any regions in Michigan and she continued to ask people in the state to wear masks as the new school year approaches for most districts.
“Michiganders have now been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for over five months,” Governor Whitmer said. “We took one of the most aggressive approaches in the nation against this virus, and because we have taken this so seriously, we are doing much better than other states.”
Governor Whitmer said some states in the country are experiencing “historic surges in cases” and “hundreds of new deaths.”
“This virus demands to be taken seriously. Youth will not protect you from this virus. Your political affiliation will not protect you from this virus, and this virus will not go away just because we’re tired of dealing with it. The only way we can put a stop to this pandemic, an end to this pandemic, is to take it seriously, do our part to protect one another, and do what we know works. When we wear masks and we wear it properly so it covers our nose and mouth, when we practice social distancing, and when we go out to get tested when it’s necessary, when we do these things we put our whole state in a stronger position to send our kids back to school safely,” Governor Whitmer said.
According to Executive Order 2020-142 and the state’s MI Safe Return to School Roadmap, school districts in Michigan must create and publish a “Preparedness Plan” for the 2020-2021 school year. The documents have to include plans for learning in Phase 3, Phase 4, and Phase 5. Regions in Phase 5 are allowed to conduct in-person learning with some restrictions, regions in Phase 4 can offer in-person education with stringent safety protocols, and in regions in Phase 3 (or below) school buildings would be closed and alternatives to in-person learning would have to be utilized. Currently, Region 6 and Region 8 – the Upper Peninsula and most of northern Michigan – are in Phase 5 (“Containing”) of the six-phase MI Safe Start Plan, and the rest of the state is in Phase 4 (“Improving”).
Michigan school districts have been releasing their plans; some schools will be returning to in-person sessions and some plan to continue with remote learning. The Crawford AuSable School District, which is located in Region 6, is planning to open for in-person learning, but it is also offering online options for students who wish to continue remote schooling.
“As we begin the year, we are planning for in-person learning five days a week – Monday through Friday – at all our buildings and have implemented numerous safety and mitigation procedures to help make this happen,” said Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing. “We offer full-time online K-12 programming through our Great Lakes Online Education school for families who want to be fully online.”
“As we welcome our students back to our buildings, we are excited to return to in-person learning. We know that there will be adjustments, and as we begin, our plans will adapt based on need and new information,” Gluesing said.
Governor Whitmer, during Friday’s update, did not announce an end to the order requiring bars to close in Michigan.
Executive Order 2020-160 – the “Amended Safe Start Order” – went into effect on Friday, July 31. It required the closure of indoor service at bars throughout Michigan, including those in Region 6 and Region 8, in an effort to further limit spread of COVID-19.
“Food service establishments that hold on-premises retailer licenses to sell alcoholic beverages must close for indoor service if they earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages,” according to Executive Order 2020-160.
Executive Order 2020-160 also limits the number of people allowed at an indoor “social gathering or organized event among persons not part of the same household” to 10. For outdoor gatherings, the limit is 250 people in Region 6 and Region 8 and 100 people for the rest of the state. 
The “social gathering” regulations do “not apply to the incidental gathering of persons in a shared space, including an airport, bus station, factory floor, restaurant, shopping mall, public pool, or workplace,” according to the order.
Executive Order 2020-160 offers exceptions to the gathering requirements in Region 6 and Region 8 for some venues. “In Regions 6 and 8, an outdoor concert space, race track, sports arena, stadium, or similar outdoor venue may be open to spectators or patrons, but only to the extent that it arranges the venue such that persons not part of the same household may maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times while in the venue; and limits the number of people in the venue to 25% of its maximum capacity or to 500, whichever is smaller,” according to the order.
Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-147 – which says people must wear face coverings in “any indoor public space” and in “crowded outdoor spaces” and requires businesses to enforce the mask regulations inside their establishments – is still in effect statewide.
“I think what’s really important is that these executive orders are about trying to increase compliance with what the scientists and public health experts are telling us are the best practices. It’s about increasing compliance. It’s not focused on punishing those who don’t; it’s about increasing the knowledge, the understanding, and really trying to change the culture,” Governor Whitmer said during a previous update.
“We’ve got to get the politics out of this,” Governor Whitmer said. “Now is a time for us to band together. It has been said we are at war with a virus. It’s important to act like we’re in a war, that we lock arms from a distance and all do what we need to win this war, and it’s just as simple as a face covering remains the best tool we have to be successful.”
“There is still no cure. They’re making strides on vaccines but there’s not a vaccine yet, and even if we get to a point where there’s a vaccine, when we get to a point where there’s a vaccine, it’s going to take time to produce it in mass so that there are quantities available for people all across the country and around the globe and so that’s why we’re focusing on changing the culture so that people understand masking has got to be part of our way of life for a while,” Governor Whitmer said. “It’s not about punishing people; it’s about protecting people.”
COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness. Its symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control, include “fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.” In the United States, the CDC – as of August 17 – is reporting 5,382,125 cases of coronavirus (41,893 more than the previous day) with 169,350 deaths from the disease (654 more than the previous day). Michigan is reporting 92,720 cases with 6,324 deaths in the state, according to www.michigan.gov (as of August 16).
 
This article is being updated as information is received. Last updated Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 12:22 p.m.
 
Table of Contents
 
Healthcare
01. Munson Healthcare
02. District Health Department #10
 
Education
03. Kirtland Community College
 
Local Government
04. Crawford County Building/Courthouse
 
Local Services
05. Commission on Aging
06. Library
07. Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce
08. AuSable Valley Animal Shelter
09. Crawford County Road Commission
 
Sports & Recreation
10. Hanson Hills Recreation Area
11. MHSAA
 
State Services
12. Secretary of State
 
Business
13. Restaurants & Bars
14. Entertainment
 
Religion
15. Churches
 
Munson Healthcare
 
Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital has stringent visitor restrictions and a “universal masking” policy. 
The full list of visitor rules is available at www.munsonhealthcare.org.
Munson Healthcare has a COVID-19 Tracker on its website at www.munsonhealthcare.org/services/community-health/covid19/new-coronavirus-(covid-19). 
“These numbers are updated daily with the most recent and accurate reporting available. We hope this information, which reflects patients tested at Munson Healthcare hospitals only, will be helpful to you in understanding the impact of this pandemic on our communities. We also would like you to be aware that these numbers do not reflect the current number of people with COVID-19 in your community. This is due to the amount of time required to obtain test results,” according to Munson Healthcare.
The COVID-19 Tracker includes eight facilities: Cadillac Hospital, Charlevoix Hospital, Grayling Hospital, Kalkaska Memorial Health Center, Manistee Hospital, Munson Medical Center (Traverse City), Otsego Memorial Hospital (Gaylord), and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital (Frankfort).
The COVID-19 Tracker features a color graph showing the trend by day of positive tests, negative tests, pending tests, and the total number of tests. 
As of September 1, the Munson Healthcare COVID-19 Tracker listed 26,480 patients tested, 627 positive tests, 25,501 negative tests, 352 pending tests, three currently hospitalized patients, and 24 deaths in a Munson Healthcare hospital.
 
District Health Department #10
 
District Health Department #10, as of August 31, listed 1,302 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its jurisdiction, 123 probable cases, and 23 deaths.
 
Kirtland Community College
 
Kirtland’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan is available online at www.kirtland.edu/coronavirus.
At the Kirtland campus, “Face masks are mandatory attire for all employees and students when in public areas,” according to school officials.
Fall semester started on August 24.
 
Crawford County Building
 
The Crawford County Building/Courthouse is open to the public and it has resumed normal business hours. The facility is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
For more information on the county, visit www.crawfordco.org.
 
Commission on Aging
 
The Crawford County Commission on Aging & Senior Center “continues to remain closed to the general public as are many senior centers in northern Michigan,” according to the Crawford County Commission on Aging, but the COA “will continue to staff the office Monday (through) Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you need assistance, please call the office at (989) 348-7123.”
Many COA activities have been halted, but some programs have continued.
Aerobic Drumming, Zumba, and Stretch classes are available via Zoom.
“Congregate Meals will continue to be offered Monday through Friday on a curbside take-out basis from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meals can be picked up at that time for both lunch and dinner as well as meals for the weekend. Meals on Wheels and In-Home Services will continue to be delivered as needed,” according to the COA. 
 
Library
 
The Devereaux Memorial Library re-opened on Tuesday, September 1. The library is limiting the number of patrons inside at one time to 25. Library officials are asking patrons to wear masks and practice physical distancing while inside the facility.
The Frederic Community Library is open. 
“Ten patrons will be allowed in the Frederic Library at one time. All patrons will need to wear a mask while in the library, adhere to social distancing guidelines, and computer time will be limited to one hour per patron or at the discretion of the librarian,” according to www.crawfordco.lib.mi.us. 
Hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Contact the Frederic Community Library by telephone at (989) 348-4067.
Wi-Fi is available in the parking lot of both facilities. No password is required.
 
Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce
 
The Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce office “is currently closed to walk-in traffic” but it is offering limited service “by phone, email, or appointment,” according to graylingchamber.com.
“Please feel free to browse through our brochures along the outside wall and if there is something you need in addition to these items, please give us a call and we would be happy to assist you Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” according to the Chamber of Commerce’s website.
The phone number for the Chamber of Commerce is (989) 348-2921. 
The Chamber has a COVID-19 Resource Page online at www.graylingchamber.com/covid-19-coronavirus-resource-page/
 
AuSable Valley Animal Shelter
 
The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter is closed to the public but it has resumed adoption efforts through online methods.
“While our shelter will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future, we are conducting virtual visits and no-contact adoptions,” according to the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter’s Facebook page.
A list of the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter’s adoptable pets is available at www.petfinder.com.
“We continue to lodge stray animals brought in by Crawford County Animal Control (no public intake) and work diligently to get them home as fast as we can. If you see or have a stray, please call Kari at 989-344-3273,” according to the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter.
If you need to contact the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter, the number is (989) 348-4117.
 
Crawford County Road Commission
 
The Crawford County Road Commission office is currently closed to the public. 
“Our staff will be working remotely to assist our residents. Please contact us via phone (989) 348-2281 extension 11 or email to info@crawford-crc.com,” according to www.crawford-crc.com.
The Road Commission Board resumed in-person meetings in July.
 
Hanson Hills Recreation Area
 
Hanson Hills Recreation Area is open for public use. Hanson Hills has a large trail system for hiking and cycling, a softball field, two disc golf courses, a 3-D archery range, a playground, and a kids’ fishing pond. 
The Ragnar Trail Michigan, an outdoor relay running event held at Hanson Hills Recreation Area last year, was slated to return to Grayling this year, but it has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ragnar Trail Michigan organizers postponed the 2020 event from its original date of June 27-28 to September 4-5 due to coronavirus concerns, but they have now cancelled the race. Hanson Hills officials said the event will return to Grayling next year.
According to the Ragnar Trail Michigan web page, www.runragnar.com, registration is already open for the 2021 event, which is slated for June 25-26.
Grayling Recreation Authority has cancelled its 2020 flag football season.
 
MHSAA
 
The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced on Friday, August 14, that the 2020 fall football season has been be moved to the spring of 2021.
“The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association today announced it will move the 2020 fall football season to spring 2021, due to football’s higher risk for spreading COVID-19, with the rest of fall sports proceeding as scheduled,” according to the MHSAA. “The football season switch was made based on consultation with state health department officials and after surveying MHSAA member high schools on their progress and preferences after the first four days of practice. Football is considered a high-risk sport for potential spread of the COVID-19 virus because of its level of player-to-player contact.”
“At the end of the day, we did everything we could to find a path forward for football this fall,” said Mark Uyl, MHSAA Executive Director. “But while continuing to connect with the Governor’s office, state health department officials, our member schools’ personnel and the (Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association), there is just too much uncertainty and too many unknowns to play football this fall. No one is willing to take the risk of COVID being passed on because of a high-risk sport. Decisions have to be made on our other sports as well, but none of those carry the same close, consistent, and face-to-face contact as football.”
Practices for football started on August 10. Practices for other fall sports began on August 12. 
The postponement leaves a lot of questions about what the spring campaign will look like, and how much the move will impact winter sports and spring sports.
“Details for the spring football season including a specific schedule and format will be announced over the next few months. The MHSAA will be working to limit overlap of spring football and the traditional spring sport seasons,” according to the MHSAA.
“While this is tremendously disappointing, we will do everything possible to provide the best possible experience in the spring while adding football into the calendar,” Uyl said.
On Thursday, August 20, the MHSAA announced that competition is allowed as scheduled for boys soccer and volleyball – both listed as “moderate-risk” sports – but only in Region 6 and Region 8.
“The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association today approved the start of competition in girls volleyball, boys soccer, and girls swimming & diving in regions of Michigan authorized for that activity by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, with competition in those sports pending in regions where those activities are not yet allowed as part of preventing spread of COVID-19,” according to the MHSAA. “Schools in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula – designated as Regions 6 and 8, respectively, by executive order – are allowed to begin competition August 21, as originally scheduled. Schools in all other Regions may continue outdoor practice, pending further executive orders allowing for the opening of indoor facilities and physical distancing while competing in those areas.”
MHSAA officials said they expect to get more clarity soon on the issue of high school sports in Michigan with upcoming “guidance” from the governor.
“Our (Representative Council) has made clear it is ready to offer students these opportunities, pending approval from Governor Whitmer that we may do so,”  said Mark Uyl, MHSAA Executive Director. “We have been told that within a week, future guidance will address athletic issues that exist in current executive orders. We are awaiting that guidance.”­­
 
Secretary of State
 
Secretary of State offices are open on an appointment-only basis for certain services.
“All 131 Secretary of State branch offices will reopen to the public Monday, June 1, for appointments only. Please make an appointment at Michigan.gov/SOS or by calling 888-SOS-MICH,” according to www.michigan.gov. “The following four transactions can be scheduled and completed: Driver’s license and state identification card transactions that must be done in person; Title transfers; Testing; Seasonal commercial vehicle renewals.” 
Senate Bills 876-878 extended “the renewal dates for driver’s licenses, CDLs, state ID cards, and vehicle registrations. Among the extensions outlined in the legislation, those with driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations expiring between February 1 and June 30 would have until September 30, 2020 to have them renewed,” according to www.michigan.gov.
“From August 24 through September 30 all branch offices will extend hours until 7 p.m. to offer special appointments for residents to renew driver’s licenses or state ID cards that expire between January 1 and September 30, 2020, and require a branch visit. Customers with driver’s licenses or state ID cards that meet that criteria can schedule an appointment between 4 and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday from August 24 through September 30. To make an appointment, visit Michigan.gov/SOSAppointments or call 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424),” according to www.michigan.gov.
 
Restaurants & Bars 
 
Restaurants are open with some restrictions.
On July 29, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-160, which ordered the closing of “indoor service” at bars (“food service establishments” that “earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages”) throughout all of Michigan, and the order is still in effect.
 
Entertainment
 
Executive Order 2020-160 offers regulations for entertainment venues. 
Parks and swimming pools are allowed to be open.
In Region 6 and Region 8, “an indoor arcade, bowling alley, cinema, climbing facility, convention center, performance space, meeting hall, sports arena, theater, or similar indoor venue may be open to spectators or patrons, but only to the extent that it: (1) Arranges the venue such that persons not part of the same household may maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times while in the venue; and (2) Limits the number of people in the venue to 25% of its maximum capacity or to 250, whichever is smaller,” according to Executive Order 2020-160.
In the rest of the state, “the following places are closed to entry, use, and occupancy by members of the public: indoor theaters, cinemas, and performance venues; indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities, exercise studios, and the like; amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, indoor dance areas, skating rinks, trampoline parks, carnival or amusement rides, water parks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities,” according to Executive Order 2020-160.
Executive Order 2020-160 allowed “casinos licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and racetracks licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board” to re-open on Wednesday, August 5, with restrictions, including “a 15% capacity limit and strict workplace safeguards.”
 
Religion
 
Executive Order 2020-160 limits “a social gathering or organized event among persons not part of the same household” to 10 people in the state, but it also provides an exemption from penalty for churches and worshipers.
“Neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under Section 17 of this order for allowing religious worship at such place. No individual is subject to penalty under Section 17 of this order for engaging in religious worship at a place of religious worship,” according to Executive Order 2020-160.
(Section 17 says that “willful violation of this order is a misdemeanor.”)
 
For regular updates on the coronavirus situation in Crawford County, visit our website at www.crawfordcountyavalanche.com.

 

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806
E-Mail: information@crawfordcountyavalanche.com

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