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May 2021
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May 11, 2021

Michigan Hits First Vaccination Milestone in Governor’s MI Vacc to Normal Challenge

Yesterday, Michigan hit the first of the four steps in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s "MI Vacc to Normal Challenge." Step 1 of that challenge takes effect 14 days after 55% of the population age 16 and over in Michigan have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. The governor announced hitting this milestone in a Tweet saying: “I’m excited to announce that 55% of Michiganders have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a huge milestone in getting #MIVaccToNormal and means that on May 24, we can return to in-person work. If you haven’t yet, please schedule a vaccine appointment today.” According to the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, as of May 10, at least 4,455,395 Michigan residents, or 55.02% of the population age 16 or greater, had received one dose of the vaccine and the official Step 1 starting date will be May 24, 2021. 
 
You may remember that when the governor announced this plan, she stated that MIOSHA could delay implementation of the return to in-person work if the state was still seeing a seven day average count of more than 250 new cases per every one million people. While our situation could change before May 24, it does not appear, based on current statistics, that MIOSHA will delay implementation. New case counts have been continuing to trend down (although this is admittedly based on incomplete data) and have been below the 250 cases per million threshold.
 
This is welcome news for employers and means that in-person work for offices will be able to resume on Monday, May 24, 2021. It is important to remember, however, that while the requirement to work from home will be lifted, the other portions of MIOSHA’s Emergency Rule will remain in place until modified or rescinded by MIOSHA. This means employers will need to, among other things, continue to screen employees, maintain social distancing and require face coverings where social distancing is not possible or when employees are in meetings and common areas.
 
In more good news for employers, many Michigan counties have now begun shortening the quarantine period for individuals who have been in close contact with persons confirmed to have COVID-19. In early April, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, which reinstated the standard 14-day quarantine period for individuals who had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. The decision to extend the quarantine period from 10 to 14 days was attributed to increasing case rates and variant spread in Michigan. You can read about this here.
 
When the CDC initially approved shortening the quarantine period, it allowed local public health authorities to elect between two options that would reduce this period for asymptomatic individuals. The MDHHS is now doing the same, and allowing county health officials to shorten the quarantine period if and when they determine that local conditions merit shortening the period. A number of Michigan counties – including Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Mason and Oakland – have shortened the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days for persons who are in close contact but remain asymptomatic. Muskegon County will allow individuals to break quarantine after seven days if they have received a negative test at least five days after the last date of close contact. Many other counties remain at 14 days. You should contact your local county health department for more information on what is happening in your county.
 
For questions regarding this vaccination milestone and what it means for your business and employees, please contact a member of Warner’s Labor and Employment Practice Group.

Click here for this week's Warner Employment News From the Law Shanty video.

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