Attorney General Nessel wanted to make sure subscribers saw this release, which was also to be issued through the State Emergency Operations Joint Information Center (JIC).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MI AG Nessel Says Protecting First Responders is Critical – and Legal
LANSING – With the heightened fear of being exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) combined with a general belief that HIPAA laws prevent disclosing certain protected information, Michigan’s first responders can be assured that the critical health information needed to protect them can and will be shared.
The issue arose following a concern from first responders that they lacked sufficient information about those who have tested positive with COVID-19 to protect themselves when they respond to calls for assistance from members of the community. In response, they reached out to the Attorney General’s office for guidance.
“Protecting the health and safety of our first responders is essential,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said, “and it is why the HIPAA privacy rule allows certain covered entities – like a health department – to disclose information about individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 under certain, limited circumstances, like the one presented here by our first responders.”
The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act – the federal law known as HIPAA – generally prevents disclosure of protected information. However, in this case, HIPAA would allow information about a person who tested positive for COVID-19 to be shared with Central Dispatch and then communicated to first responders whenever those first responders may be at risk of COVID-19 infection or when a first responder can reasonably prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to health or safety. When sharing this information though, reasonable efforts should be made to limit the information disclosed to the minimum necessary to accomplish the purpose of the disclosure. That could be achieved by only sharing the information with the first responders handling the call for assistance.
The Attorney General’s office recently added a new section to its website, Know Your Employment Rights, to provide Michigan residents with more information on the legal rights of employees and employers under the state’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order.
The state’s COVID-19 website also has information on the Governor’s other executive orders, directives and FAQs which allows for review of each order and its own questions and answers.
Anyone seeking interpretation of an executive order should first review those orders and the FAQs posted online. If an answer is not found, requests for an interpretation of an executive order can be emailed to the Michigan Department of Attorney General. Frequently monitoring the FAQs is recommended as they are updated often.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AG Nessel Reissues Consumer Alert as Another Local Health Department Receives Reports of Scammers Seeking Medicaid, Medicare Information
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today warned Michiganders again to beware of scammers claiming to be from at least two local public health departments, calling residents to offer medication and at-home COVID-19 tests while asking for their Medicaid and Medicare numbers for billing purposes. Incoming calls are jamming local health departments’ phone lines, delaying important responses to COVID-19.
Reports so far have been focused on the Ionia County Health Department and now the Benzie Leelanau Public Health Department. The Attorney General’s office reissued a consumer alert making residents aware of the situation earlier today.
The Benzie Leelanau Public Health Department received multiple calls from residents in the 248 and 989 area codes asking about the calls. The department is in the 231 area code.
“Scammers are still on a quest to take advantage of this public health crisis to gain access to your private information. As we continue to work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I want to remind all Michiganders to stay on high alert for scam calls, emails and text or direct messages on social media,” said Nessel. “Do not hesitate to contact our Consumer Protection Team to report a scam, file a complaint, or get additional information.”
To seem more official, scammers often use a process known as “spoofing” – when a call appears to be coming from a legitimate government phone number. The caller may also sound professional and be very persuasive.
Anyone who receives a phone call they suspect to be a scam should hang up the phone. No one should give out personal information to an unsolicited caller.
Residents should also be aware of online coronavirus scams selling bogus products and providing false information on COVID-19 tests and treatments. These attempts to obtain the personal information of consumers may include emails or online posts pitching unreliable products, advice, fake tests and cures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Those who wish to make a report about potential scams, price-gouging and any other violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act can do so with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team by filing a complaint online or by calling 877-765-8388.
Oakland County’s Interactive Map Displays COVID-19 Cases by Zip Code
Pontiac, Michigan – Oakland County deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases doubled overnight. They went from a total of 29 on Sunday to a total of 60 on Monday, an increase of 31 deaths, which prompted County Executive David Coulter to plea with residents to stay home.
“Any of us is at risk of getting COVID-19… All of us must take the maximum precautions at this time. Please, please, please stay home. Follow the governor’s orders. Take this seriously. We have not reached our peak yet,” Coulter said.
He also announced that residents can now view the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases by zip code on a map which can be found on the county’s coronavirus website, OakGov.com/COVID. Coulter and the Oakland County Health Division cautioned that these maps do not provide a complete picture of how the disease is being transmitted. The maps show in which zip codes confirmed COVID-19 cases live, but do not indicate where they were exposed to the disease.
“Although there may be a higher rate in a certain city, village, or township or zip code, that is not necessarily where they were exposed,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, Oakland County health officer.
“Just because a community has more or fewer cases, it is not an indication of the relative safety in those communities,” Coulter said. “COVID-19 is in every community in Oakland County. No matter where you live, you should stay at home and take the precautions we’ve talked about so often, especially if you must go out.”
There are numerous factors which can contribute to a higher number in a community including access to health care, access to COVID-19 testing sites, and it could be an indication of something going on in the community.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Oakland County as of 4 p.m. today is 1,403, ranging in age from 14 days to 97-years-old. For more information, go to Oakland County’s COVID-19 dashboard at OakGov.com/COVID.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020
Media Contact: BrownT56@michigan.gov
Michigan National Guard to staff Food Banks in four Michigan communities during COVID-19 response
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan National Guard has received a request to aid Food Banks in four communities across the state, including Ann Arbor, Comstock Park, Flint, and Pontiac. Approximately 10 Michigan National Guard members will be serving at each site.
Support to the Food Banks is scheduled to begin March 30 and is expected to continue through mid-April.
“The aid that men and women of the Michigan National Guard will provide to Food Banks across Michigan is further proof that the Michigan National Guard is a true cornerstone of Michigan communities,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “I could not be more proud of their service, commitment, and determination, and they are making a difference in the state’s response to COVID-19.”
The food distribution sites requested Michigan National Guard personnel to assist with mobile food distribution, which serves between 300-600 Michigan families daily. Guard members will direct traffic for the drive-through distribution site and assist with packing bags of fruit and handing bags to cars. The guard members will perform their duties with personnel protective equipment to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including gloves and hand sanitizer.
Whitmer announced the Michigan National Guard’s involvement in the state-wide response to COVID-19 on March 18. Since then, guard members have provided logistics support to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, assembling and loading critical personal protective gear such as gowns and face shields. There are also members of the Michigan National Guard serving the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. Their support includes temperature screening of all employees before they enter the homes, and ensuring screening protocols are being followed to protect resident veterans from the spread of COVID-19.
“The Michigan National Guard strives to be a provider of exceptional service,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard. “As the response to COVID-19 continues, we stand ready to serve our neighbors, family, and friends in the communities in which we live and work.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2020
Media Contact: BrownT56@michigan.gov
Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Temporarily Suspending Scope of Practice Laws, Allowing Qualified Physician Assistants, Nurses to Treat COVID-19 patients
LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-30, which relaxes scope of practice laws to give hospitals and other health-care facilities the flexibility they need to successfully deploy qualified physician assistants, nurses and other health care providers to combat COVID-19.
The order also reinforces an existing law that protects hospitals and health-care workers from liability for taking necessary steps to protect Michiganders during an emergency.
“Michigan’s dedicated health care professionals continue putting their lives on the line every day during this unprecedented crisis, and we must do everything we can to empower them to do their jobs,” Gov. Whitmer said. “This executive order temporarily sets aside some existing rules to allow qualified physician assistants, nurses and other health care providers to treat COVID-19 patients and help slow the spread of this virus in every corner of our state.”
Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
To view executive order 2020-30, click the link below:
This press release will be translated and made available in Arabic and Spanish at www.michigan.gov/whitmer.