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New Public Health Order follows 235% increase in COVID-19 cases since mid-February

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. - Wayne County Public Health Officer Carol Austerberry today issued a new public health order allowing public bodies in Wayne County communities (excluding Detroit) to continue to hold virtual public meetings through May 31, 2021.

"Wayne County has experienced a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and we cannot yet afford to let our guard down," said Austerberry. "Under this order, public bodies such as school boards and city councils can conduct business in a transparent manner without risking further spread of the COVID virus."

The city of Detroit has its own public health department and is not governed by this order.

According to the order, COVID-19 cases have increased since mid-February, growing from 659 new cases during the week beginning February 7, 2021 to 2,205 new cases in the week beginning March 14, 2021. That represents a 235 percent increase in the number of cases reported in a span of just six weeks. The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has increased from 4.5 percent to 7.8 percent during that same time frame. Additionally, there were 3,567 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the week beginning March 21. This marks the first week since early December with more than 3,000 new cases in Wayne County.

While this order allows for remote meetings, a local body may resume in-person meetings if the meeting size is limited to fewer than 25 members (or larger, if state guidance allows). This order is designed to give local officials authority to make meeting venue decisions based on COVID-19 circumstances specific to their individual communities. Participants at in-person meetings must wear masks and practice social distancing per the guidance issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"Open public meetings are a cornerstone of a democratic society," said Austerberry. "This order allows local communities the flexibility to respect the public's right to open meetings without risking further harm to public health during this deadly pandemic."

The Wayne County Public Health Order is consistent with guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services about open public meetings issued on March 5, 2021. More information is available on the MDHHS website: https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.

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