COVID Restrictions: What powers do local and state agencies have to curb spread?

Posted at 2:01 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 18:25:08-04

(WXYZ) — Deciding whether or not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is something many experts say people are still struggling with. Now, there's even more to consider with the potential for added restrictions.


For metro Detroit, the rise in cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant brings with it a wide range of emotions. Some fear the state now won’t have the necessary power to limit exposure while others insist we should avoid returning to additional restrictions.

“I heard the governor say her hands are tied, but I’m becoming more cautious again about keeping a mask with me,” said one local resident.

Another said, “I think people should make their own decisions, I would be opposed to further restrictions.”

While the Michigan Supreme Court has limited power of the governor’s emergency orders to 28-days before approval is needed from the state legislature, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says:

"MDHHS possesses the authority to issue epidemic orders under MCL 333.2253. The Legislature’s decision to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act has no impact on the epidemic order authority. In recognition of the severe, widespread harm caused by epidemics, the Legislature has granted MDHHS specific authority, dating back a century, to address threats to the public health like those posed by COVID-19. MCL 333.2253(1) provides that: If the director determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the director by emergency order may prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws. Emergency procedures shall not be limited to this code.

At this time, there are not any plans to enact additional public health orders. We have provided guidance to schools to help them keep staff and students safe during in-person learning and recommendations on when Michiganders should consider wearing masks to protect themselves and others. We continue to monitor CDC guidance and will update our recommendations as necessary. There is no state mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, it is our best defense against the virus and the way we are going to end this pandemic. We urge all eligible Michiganders to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are able."

This comes as a top expert at Beaumont Health issues a warning.

"Delta variant is 225 times more likely to be infectious and contagious, from what the CDC is reporting and based on the numbers,” said Dr. Joel Fishbain, Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Beaumont Hospital Grosse Pointe.

With the city of Detroit still at a much lower rate of vaccination than the required 70% for herd immunity, Dr. Joel Fishbain says until more Detroiters and Michiganders get the vaccination, there’s much more to worry about.

"The Delta and other variants came from the virus replicating continuously and infection in the community. Variants and mutations are bound to occur and I’m concerned the next variant might escape previous immunity and vaccination,” he said.

In Detroit, we’ve also confirmed the health director still has the authority to impose further restrictions if necessary to protect public health. However, neither the city, county or state have announced any plans to require vaccination.

"The choice is up to you and we’re counting on you, Detroit, to make the right decision to get your vaccine,” said Denise Fair, Detroit Health Department director.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.