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Whitmer extends executive orders for groceries, pharmacies, nursing homes

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended executive orders already in place Saturday to protect frontline workers at groceries, pharmacies and long-term care facilities.

The orders require stores to provide two hours a week of reserved shopping time for vulnerable people and require workers to continue regularly testing, cleaning and social distancing during the pandemic.

Whitmer issued a statement saying the fight against COVID-19 isn't over yet.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order.

"We can’t let our guard down and must continue to step up to do our part to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Frontline workers in our hospitals, grocery stores, nursing homes, and more have put their own lives on the line to protect our families,” Whitmer said in the statement. “By extending these orders, we can protect our frontline heroes and most vulnerable populations from this virus and ensure they are able to work and live in a safe environment.”

Executive orders 2020-178 and 2020-179 continue through Sept. 30 and maintain infection control protocols in nursing homes put in place at the outset of the crisis and protect residents from eviction and employees from retaliatory action for staying home when exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

While hospitalizations and deaths have dropped in recent months, the virus is still moving across Michigan as hundreds of new cases are confirmed each day. One health official described it as a slowly spreading wave with longterm care facilities being at the heart of it.

Michigan added 838 cases and eight deaths linked to COVID-19 Saturday.

Saturday's additions bring the state's total number of cases to 106,215 and the death toll to 6,532. 

In the past week, the state has added 4,737 cases and 67 deaths, according to the state.

Outbreaks in recent months have hit college towns and nursing homes. In the past two weeks, 13 outbreaks have occurred at long-term care facilities, according to state data. The spread could have been limited if residents more closely followed the guidance of health officials, medical experts said this week.

This week the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force issued several recommendations to Whitmer. She is reviewing the recommendations and will implement changes when the review is complete.

Shoppers and employees navigate the isle ways near the fresh-meat counter. People shop at the Village Market in Grosse Pointe Farms, Friday afternoon, March 13, 2020.

Executive Order 2020-178, which continues through Sept. 30, extends health and safety rules for grocery stores and pharmacies, including:

  • 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.   
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies must offer accommodations to vulnerable employees, such as low-risk assignments or a leave of absence.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_