Livingston County officials seek to ‘preserve our freedoms’ by ending face mask requirements

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HOWELL, MI – Livingston County officials plan to vote next week on a resolution to rescind mandatory mask requirements for county employees and visitors to county facilities.

The proposal put forward by Commissioner Wes Nakagiri was passed 4-0 by the county’s general government and health and social services committee this week.

It’s now on the County Board’s agenda for Tuesday, October 13th. The fully republican council is made up of nine commissioners.

In order to bring Livingston County into line with executive orders issued by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the board approved a COVID-19 response plan earlier this year that included the mandatory use of face coverings by county employees and visitors to county facilities.

Now that the State Supreme Court has overturned Whitmer’s authority to maintain Michigan’s state of emergency, it is clear that the County Council’s pre-approval for mandatory face coverings “was based on orders. unconstitutional issued by the Governor of Michigan, ”reads the proposed resolution.

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The resolution says it would not replace any requirements imposed by “a valid federal, state or local ordinance / law”, nor would it prevent a citizen from voluntarily wearing a face mask.

The council “encourages all citizens to voluntarily comply with the guidelines” to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the resolution adds, emphasizing the word voluntarily.

“We also encourage the governor and the legislature to develop state-wide policies that effectively preserve our freedoms, mitigate the spread of COVID, and restore our economic vitality. “

There have been 1,527 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 among residents of Livingston County since the start of the pandemic, including 32 deaths, according to state data. The county had a population of around 192,000 people last year.

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Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an order on October 5 to maintain some of the COVID-19 rules that were previously enacted by Whitmer’s orders, including some mask requirements and limits on gatherings.

Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted in non-residential environments as long as each person wears a face covering, according to the DHHS ordinance.

There are exceptions to exceeding the 10 person limit at sites where capacity remains within certain limits, but face masks are still required. However, the restrictions imposed by the DHHS do not apply to the “accidental gathering of persons in a shared space, including an airport, bus station, workshop, restaurant, shopping mall, public swimming pool or place of recreation. job “.

The science is clear that wearing masks can reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus by about 70%, DHHS Director Robert Gordon said in a statement this week.

“Even with masks, transmission is more likely when people are within 6 feet of each other for 15 minutes, especially indoors,” he said. “Failure to take the proper precautions can allow the disease to spread, whether it’s in a bar in East Lansing or in the White House.”

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