Health chief cites ‘broad’ authority, issues virus rules

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s health chief said Tuesday he has “broad” legal authority to curb the coronavirus, as he issued additional orders both reinstituting restrictions negated by a state Supreme Court ruling and requiring schools to notify the public of infections.

Robert Gordon, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, reinstated rules for nursing homes and other congregate-care settings. He also 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 then must post it on its website within 24 hours of notification.

The steps came a day after Gordon ordered the wearing of masks and limits on gathering sizes.

He again cited a law that empowers him to act to control a pandemic.

“It’s a broad grant of authority,” he told The Associated Press. “The actions we’re taking fall well within it.”

Opponents of the restrictions could file lawsuits. A Republican legislative leader has come out against codifying mask and other rules into law. Gordon said such restrictions cannot be voluntary.

“Orders matter. The law matters. They set common expectations, and they help everyone know what they need to do,” he said. “The science behind what we are doing is 100% clear. Masks reduce the spread of COVID. Social distancing reduces the spread of COVID.”

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