Gov Creates Bipartisan Task Force, Takes Action to Protect Nursing Home Residents and Staff from COVID-19

Governor Whitmer has signed executive orders to protect Michigan Nursing Home residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order 2020-135 creates the bipartisan Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-136 which extends existing safety measures to maintain restrictions regarding entry to care facilities designed to protect vulnerable populations. Since it was first issued on March 14, this order has prohibited entry into a nursing home without undergoing a rigorous screening protocol designed to protect facilities from COVID-19.

The Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force will be charged with, among other things, analyzing relevant data on the threat of COVID-19 in nursing homes, and making recommendations to the governor on improving data quality, and releasing periodic reports to the governor on its findings and recommendations. The task force must produce a recommendation to the governor for an action plan on how to prepare nursing homes for any future wave of COVID-19 cases by August 31, 2020.

The Task Force will consist of leaders across state government, including representatives from DHHS and LARA. The task force will also include a representative of the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, bipartisan representation from both houses of the legislature (2 members from each house), and thirteen other members appointed by the governor, including individuals with a personal or professional interest in the health, safety, and welfare of nursing home residents and workers.

Executive Order 2020-136 maintains restrictions on visitation to health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities, but authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to gradually re-open visitation as circumstances permit. This order has been in place since March, and consistently prohibited entry into a nursing home by a person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The order is effective immediately and continues through July 24, 2020.