Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

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Michigan health director Elizabeth Hertel traveled with family to Alabama for spring break despite her department's guidance to avoid out-of-state travel while Michigan battles a raging coronavirus outbreak. The trip was first reported by Lansing-based publication MIRS. The disclosure came days after Breitbart News reported a top aide to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, chief operating officer Tricia Foster, traveled to Florida for spring break despite the governor having expressed "concern" about trips there.

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The Michigan health department is being sued over its refusal to release more information about COVID-19 deaths tied to nursing homes.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which often takes aggressive action to get public records, filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of Detroit journalist Charlie LeDuff, who is seeking ages, dates of death and whether the person became ill at a long-term care facility.

The health department told LeDuff that the information is exempt under the state’s public records law.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Feb. 9, 2021 photo
Michigan Office of the Governor / Associated Press

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer faced growing criticism Tuesday after the disclosure of two additional employment-separation deals for former top officials, a day after her administration acknowledged that a key leader in the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was paid $155,000 following his sudden resignation.

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Former Michigan Department of Public Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon will receive more than $155,000 as part of a separation agreement, published reports revealed Monday.

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MI.gov

State health officials said Friday that Michigan has capacity to vaccinate up to 80,000 people a day but the supply of COVID-19 doses, while higher in recent weeks, remains limited.

They also said their goal is to ensure no one has to travel more than 20 minutes to a vaccination site in the pandemic, and that a priority is to allocate additional doses to areas based on factors such as poverty, lack of transportation and crowded housing.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is refusing to discuss the circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of Michigan's health director during the coronavirus pandemic, not saying if she had asked for his resignation. The Democratic governor also declined Monday to set a date for the return of youth contact sports, amid growing pressure after her administration extended the ban through Feb. 21. Robert Gordon, who issued COVID-19 restrictions after Whitmer's powers were upended by an October court ruling, resigned Friday as director of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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Michigan’s rate of new COVID-19 cases has been dropping for more than 29 days, a state scientist reported Wednesday.

“It will be important during this holiday season, as well, and New Year’s Eve, to ensure we’re maintaining that social distancing. That will be very important,” said Sarah Lyon-Callo, head of the epidemiology bureau.

“We’re going to be watching these data throughout the holiday season to determine if we’re going to see any sort of case resurgence,” Lyon-Callo said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, December 10, 2020 photo
Michigan Office of the Governor / Associated Press

Michigan expects to receive about 257,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines initially if the federal government authorizes them for emergency use this month, enough to immunize roughly 128,000 residents, a top doctor said Thursday.

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A federal judge has refused to block the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ ban on indoor dining.

When the MDHHS issued restrictions on indoor dining two weeks ago designed to slow the surge of COVID-19 cases, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association sued the state. It brought four federal claims and a pair of state claims.

“Alleging that the Constitutional rights of restaurant operators have been violated.”

Michael Huff is a corporate attorney with Mika Meyers.

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A week after Michigan's Supreme Court ruled Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lacks the authority to act unilaterally to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the state health department has issued its own emergency order keeping much of the restrictions she imposed in place. The order Friday from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon comes under the state's Public Health Code. Michigan Supreme Court justices in a 4-3 vote last week declared the 1945 law repeatedly used by Whitmer, a Democrat, to respond to the coronavirus pandemic unconstitutional.

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Michigan's health chief says he has "broad" legal authority to curb the coronavirus. Robert Gordon, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, on Tuesday issued additional orders reinstituting restrictions negated by a state Supreme Court ruling and requiring schools to notify the public of infections. He told local health departments to inform K-12 schools within 24 hours of learning of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. A school must post it on its website.

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Michigan reported no new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, but added 1,041 new confirmed cases, health officials said.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday’s case count is higher that previous days because there was a delay in processing laboratory results from Friday evening through Saturday morning. That rolled cases that should have been included in Saturday’s total of 437 confirmed cases into Sunday’s tally.

Overall, the state has reported 78,019 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,149 deaths since the pandemic began.

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Orders have been issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that allow for expanded visitations at nursing and other residential facilities. Visits to the facilities have been restricted to slow the spread of COVID-19. The two orders signed Tuesday by MDHHS Director Robert Gordon allow exceptions to the restrictions as long as the facilities meet specific safety requirements, such as requiring masks during visits. Gordon noted the hardship residents of the facilities have faced because they have been unable to see loved ones because of the pandemic.

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Michigan has signed off on $20 million in grants and loans to thousands of small businesses harmed by the coronavirus. Meanwhile, the number of cases in the state has risen dramatically to 336, including three deaths. The state health department says it's now able to combine numbers from its own lab with statistics from hospitals and private labs. About 117,000 businesses were directly hit by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order to close or greatly limit service at bars, movie theaters, fitness centers and restaurants. Some could qualify for grants of up to $10,000.

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 Over 45% of adults with disabilities report their health as fair or poor, compared to 8% of their non-disabled counterparts according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Reyna Garcia who has been a longtime advocate for people with disabilities says this is because it’s not always easy to navigate resources when you have a disability. 

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