Kent County Health Department: Supreme Court ruling doesn’t impact public health orders

The Kent County Health Department didn’t issue any new public health orders Sunday night, but it did say it will use enforcement when necessary.

As local health departments are figuring out what a Michigan Supreme Court ruling means on statewide mandates, some are implementing their own public health orders to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

Oakland and Ingham counties issued their own orders, including a local mandate to wear a face covering or mask in public. In Kent County, the health department did not implement any orders over the weekend, but it did say it will use public health orders when necessary. 

“It is important for public health agencies to responsibly use the legal authorities that have been provided by legislative action. Actions such as orders for isolation and quarantine are not affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling,” a Facebook post from the health department read. 

The Centers for Disease Control does advise Americans to wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

RELATED: Following court ruling, Michigan Attorney General will no longer enforce COVID-19 executive orders

Local health departments are reassessing after the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers, which would eliminate dozens of executive orders issued over the past six months. It’s still unclear if these orders remain in effect, with the governor saying they still hold authority for the next 21 days. 

“The Supreme Court’s ruling raises several legal questions that we are still reviewing. While we are moving swiftly, this transition will take time,” the governor’s office said Sunday. 

The governor also said many of the measures she put in place will continue through “alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in the court’s ruling.” She is likely referring to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issuing its own statewide public health orders, many of which duplicated the executive orders.

However, “with uncertainty” around the order, the Ingham County Health Officer issued four public health orders Sunday, including requiring masks in public and limiting group gatherings. 

The Kent County Health Department said public health orders are authorized under the Michigan Public Health Code, which was enacted in 1978. 

“The Kent County Health Department will continue to use public health orders and enforcement actions as appropriate under law as we’ve been doing for many decades,” the post said. 

RELATED: Michigan Supreme Court strikes down governor’s virus orders

The health department did not issue any new public health orders Sunday night, but it did emphasize the importance of people following health guidance around COVID-19. 

“The Kent County Health Department also continues to encourage everyone to wear facial coverings in indoor public places, maintain social distancing, and practice good hygiene. COVID-19 is not going anywhere and we are seeing disturbing increases in test positivity rates and new cases. The arrival of colder weather is also concerning,” the post said. 

The health department encouraged residents of the county to work together to limit the spread of the virus. 

Sunday, Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel said in light of the ruling, her office will no longer be prosecuting violations of the executive orders. But she still encouraged people to wear masks and social distance. 

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