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Local News Summary - August 5, 2020 Edition

New executive order limits indoor gatherings to 10 and closes indoor service at many bars
LANSING – On July 29, 2020 Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-160 and Executive Order 2020-161, amending Michigan’s Safe Start Order and issuing revised workplace safeguards. Under the Safe Start Order, starting July 31, 2020, statewide indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people and bars whose alcohol sales total 70% or more of their 2019 gross revenue, of if the business just started in 2020, from the date of opening until now, will be closed for indoor service across the state, including in Regions 6 and 8, which includes Montmorency County.   

 “As we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Michiganders cannot afford to drop our guard. We must take every step possible to save lives, protect the brave men and women on the front lines, and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system while we continue to combat COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “After seeing a resurgence in cases connected to social gatherings across the state, we must further limit gatherings for the health of our community and economy. By taking these strong actions, we will be better positioned to get our children back into classrooms and avoid a potentially devastating second wave.”   

 COVID-19’s resurgence is closely associated with super-spreading events at large social gatherings, often attended by young people. An outbreak at a Lansing bar has resulted in 187 infections; more than 50 cases have been linked to a single house party in Saline; and a sandbar party at Torch Lake over the July 4 weekend led to at least 43 confirmed cases. Therefore, Executive Order 2020-160 limits statewide indoor gatherings to 10 people or less and, across most of the state, limits outdoor gatherings to 100. (The outdoor gathering limits will remain at 250 in Regions 6 and 8.)    

Executive Order 2020-160 also orders that bars in every region, including those in regions 6 and 8, must close for indoor service if they earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages.  

 Under the governor’s orders, Detroit casinos will also be allowed to open on August 5, but their occupancy will be limited to 15% capacity. Casinos must also, among other things, conduct a daily entry screening protocol for customers and employees, temperature screening. Casinos must require patrons to wear a face covering, except while eating or drinking or for identification purposes. 

 Executive Order 2020-160 will rescind Executive Orders 2020-110, 2020-115, 2020-120, 2020-133, and 2020-143.  

A new emergency workplace safeguard order (EO 2020-161), which outlines requirements in each business, was also issued. It and the new amended safe start order (EO 2020-160) can be found by visiting https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705—,00.html.

Return of high school sports
On July 29, the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved the next steps to returning to sports. A plan was adopted to phase in competition for fall sports in hopes of continuing to deter the spread of COVID-19.

Lower-risk sports, including cross country, Lower Peninsula girls’ golf, Lower Peninsula boys’ tennis and Upper Peninsula girls’ tennis as well as Lower Peninsula girls’ swimming and diving, may begin practice on Aug. 12 and begin competition on the traditional start dates of Aug. 19 and 21. Moderate high-risk sports, including football, girls’ volleyball and boys’ soccer, may begin practice but not competition. Decisions about competition for these three sports will be made by Aug. 20.

The week of Aug. 10 may include football practice sessions consisting of conditioning, physical training and skill work with no other player equipment except helmets. Football will delay the start of practice with full player pads and equipment until Aug. 17.

The Representative Council for MHSAA also voted to cancel scrimmages in all fall sports for this school year and approved limitations on numbers of teams that may compete together at regular-season tournaments, invitationals and other multi-team events. Plans remain reliant on virus spread and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan. Currently, two regions are in Phase 5, which allows for limited indoor activity, while the rest are in Phase 4 and unable to host indoor training, practice or competition.

“The Council, reflecting on the positive impact on their athletes this summer from taking part in offseason training, feels it’s of utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward,” Mark Uyl, executive director for MHSAA, said in a news release.

“If we take a month off, our students will find opportunities to compete through non-school entities that may not be as focused on safety. Our athletic directors and coaches can provide the safest possible environment to return to sports, and this phased-in approach to competition will help schools continue building on progress already made.”

The MHSAA has posted sport-by-sport guidance documents outlining increased precautions designed to limit the viral spread as well as a four-page overview with precautions that apply, generally, to all sports. Specific sport guidelines and the overview are available on the respective sport pages of the MHSAA website at www.mhsaa.com/sports.

Cooler temps, then warmer weather returns this week
It was the second warmest July for the Alpena area with average temperatures of 72.2 degrees, or 4.7 degrees above normal, and it was the sixth warmest July for Gaylord with average temperatures of 70 degrees, or four degrees above normal.

“I don’t think many daily records were broken, but July, overall, was warm,” Sabrina Jauernic, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Tribune, adding warm overnight lows made it uncomfortable for sleeping for those without air conditioning.

She attributed the extended warm spell to a ridge if high pressure in the upper atmosphere that hung over the Great Lakes for a significant period. Alpena had a record-breaking July regarding rainfall at 8.1 inches, or five inches above normal, and Gaylord saw its second wettest July at 6.53 inches of rain, or 3.5 inches above normal.

Temperatures early this week will be cooler and in the 60s, but it will begin to heat up, again, on Wednesday with temperatures in the mid-70s. The warming trend will continue into the weekend with temperatures progressing into the 80s. Jauernic predicts the warming trend might persist for a few days without a great chance of rain in the near future.

Death Notices
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John A. Shibler
Jean M. Cady
Edward J. Weaver
James R. Housey Sr.
Ruth E. Boyd

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