[Updated 9/29/20 with additional information on current state orders and case counts]. Washtenaw County Health Department is issuing a public health emergency order to limit the size of social gatherings or events within the City of Ann Arbor and the City of Ypsilanti. No more than 25 people may gather at outdoor events. The local order enhances existing state orders and further restricts social gathering in areas at increased risk for COVID-19 outbreaks as the student population returns to local universities. The order takes effect on August 20, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and will remain in effect until amended or rescinded.
“Social gatherings without preventative measures can quickly lead to increased local cases of COVID,” says Jimena Loveluck, MSW, health officer for Washtenaw County. “Additional restrictions on the size of outdoor gatherings as well as a strong recommendation to keep records of attendees will help prevent the spread of illness and allow us to respond quickly if cases are identified.”
The local order reduces the size of allowable outdoor social gatherings to 25 or fewer individuals within the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti only. All other social events and gatherings remain limited accordance with updated Michigan Executive Order 2020-183. At any gathering or event, inside or out, individuals not living in the same household should keep at least 6 feet of distance from one another. Face coverings continue to be required in indoor settings and any crowded outdoor settings under Executive Order 2020-153. Both the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University are requiring face coverings at all times on their campuses.
Washtenaw County has reported over of 3,770 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 9/29/2020. COVID-19 cases in those 18 to 22 years of age now represent the majority of newly reported cases in Washtenaw County. With thousands of students returning or relocating to area universities and living in congregate housing, the Washtenaw County Health Officer finds it reasonable and necessary to further limit the size of outdoor social gatherings and organized events and reinforce COVID-19 protective measures in coordination with local municipalities and universities.
"I support the Washtenaw County Health Officer’s social gathering limitation 100% and thank her for her leadership,” says Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor. “Permanent residents, students, and everyone in between needs to know that they are the key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. If we all follow public health guidance and wear masks inside and outside, maintain distance, and practice good hand hygiene, we can keep ourselves, first responders, and our neighbors as safe as possible. It’s up to each of us to do our part."
Lois Allen-Richardson, Mayor of Ypsilanti agrees: “Times are not normal, and we must continue to operate as safely as possible. That means interacting differently and with more precautions in place throughout our community and our campuses.”
State law provides local health officers with the authority to issue orders to protect the public health under Section 2453 of the Public Health Code (MCL 333.2453). Those who disregard the order could be subject to a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months and/or a fine of up to $200.
To reduce the spread of illness in our community, the Health Department recommends wearing a face covering, maintaining 6 feet distance from others not in your household and cleaning hands frequently. Testing is recommended for anyone reporting to work in person, with known exposure or with any mild or unusual symptoms. Symptoms may take up to 14 days after exposure to appear, and individuals are considered contagious two days before symptoms appear.
The number of local cases, guidance for employers, prevention information, testing options and more are available at www.washtenaw.org/covid19. Health Department staff are also available to answer questions. Leave a message at 734-544-6700 or email [email protected].
Resources from Washtenaw County Health Department
Information from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University