Oakland County orders closures of malls, adjacent businesses

Sarah Rahal Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said the county will order the closure of all malls in the county, a prohibition on using playground equipment and the required screening of visitors, children and parents entering child care facilities. 

The order closing shopping malls takes effect noon Saturday and includes a variety of stores and often restaurants and other businesses housed in a series of adjacent buildings or in a single large building, officials said.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter addresses the media on the county’s COVID-19 cases Saturday morning.

Somerset, Great Lakes Crossing and 12 Oaks had already closed voluntarily as of Saturday, but Oakland Mall remained open. 

The orders come a day after Oakland County announced the first death in the county related to COVID-19. A 50-year-old Oakland County man who had underlying conditions and had been treated at Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital died Friday. 

The county as of Saturday had 229 confirmed cases, 42 of which have required hospitalization. The 229 confirmed cases range in age from 7 months to 92 years, with the average age of 54 and a median age of 27, Coulter said. The 42 hospitalized range in age from 31 to 92.

"This could be any of us," Coulter said at a press conference Saturday. "This could be your husband or brother or coworker and this only magnifies to me the seriousness of where we are in this pandemic.”

The ban on indoor and outdoor playground equipment takes place immediately. Play areas in walking trails and grassy areas are exempt from the order. 

The order on childcare centers goes into effect at 6 a.m. Monday through April 17.

"For those who are wondering if we are overreacting for nothing, I would just say 'nothing' is good," Coulter said. "'Nothing' is success. 'Nothing' saves lives. So do as little as possible. Stay at home and reduce nonessential activities."

Sheriff Michael Bouchard said they're not arresting in relation to these orders but hopes it will increase distancing. He said they've been working with courts to remove inmates with chronic medical conditions that are not a threat to the public and reduce numbers in prisons.

Bouchard said in light of the growing number of Detroit Police Department's quarantined officers, their deputies are limiting exposure. 

"A lot of our folks are in quarantine," Bouchard said. "It's something we're constantly monitoring. ... We have limited supplies that can get burned through and it has, frankly.

"Now, isn't the time to be making stops and interacting directly with people that you don't need to."

Coulter also asked any residents in possession of personal protective equipment, including masks and thermometers, to donate them to the state emergency operation center.

The county is in a "critical state" with limited resources, Coulter said.

"If you or your business has these equipment and you’re not currently an essential business” consider donating, he said.

Coulter indicated the county is looking into facilities for people who have tested positive but don't need to be hospitalized. The facilities would allow those individuals to isolate away from their families, who may not be infected.

The state announced a total of 549 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday afternoon. The death in Oakland County was the fourth in the state related to COVID-19. All of those who died had underlying conditions.

Residents with health-related questions can call the health division at (800) 848-5533. Other inquiries should be directed to (248) 858-1000.