FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AG Nessel Releases Investigation Results of Contact-tracing Contract
LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today released a 29-page report outlining the findings of her department’s criminal investigation into allegations that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) unlawfully directed the procurement of a contract for COVID-19 contact-tracing to an alleged political ally. The investigation was requested by Michigan State Senator Jim Runestad on April 28, 2020, although he did not provide the department with any information, documents or other evidence to further the investigation.
A team of three criminal investigators and four assistant attorneys general with expertise in criminal and/or procurement law conducted numerous interviews with 17 individuals and obtained and reviewed thousands of emails and other documents as part of the investigation.
Following a thorough review of all physical evidence collected and all statements taken, the Department of Attorney General found no evidence of criminal conduct, specifically stating that “It is our recommendation that any request for criminal charges arising from the procurement of the contract to perform contact-tracing for COVID-19 positive cases … be denied ….”
“I appreciate the concern raised by Sen. Runestad but I also appreciate the reality under which this contract was pursued,” said Nessel. “With the benefit of hindsight, there may have been a better way to accomplish the Department’s ultimate purpose but we found no evidence of criminality. Instead, it appears the imperfect process used here was mainly a result of the Department’s attempt to get a contact-tracing program underway as quickly as possible in light of the dire public health crisis.”
A copy of the report – which can be found here – has been provided to Sen. Runestad, Governor Whitmer, and Department of Health & Human Services Director Robert Gordon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 30, 2020
Gov. Whitmer Lowers Flags to Honor Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon
LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol Complex and upon all public buildings and grounds across the state of Michigan to be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, to honor the life and service of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, and coincide with his funeral.
“Benny Napoleon was a special guy,” Governor Whitmer said. “His warm smile, eager hand and honest heart was rooted in his faith in God, faith in his fellow man or woman, and faith in doing the right thing. He was a true community leader who always saw the good in situations, and he encouraged others to do the same. As we lower the flags today in Benny’s honor, my thoughts are with his family and the entire Wayne County Sheriff’s office.”
Benny Napoleon grew up in Detroit where he graduated from Cass Tech High School. He later attended University of Detroit Mercy for his bachelor’s degree and Michigan State University for his juris doctorate.
In 1975, Benny joined the Detroit Police Department. He worked his way through the ranks to become the police chief in 1998. He later served as the assistant executive for Wayne County. In 2009, Benny Napoleon became Wayne County Sheriff to which he served continuously for 11 years.
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon passed away on Thursday, December 17 at 65 years old from complications due to COVID-19.
The State of Michigan recognizes the duty, honor and selfless service of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon by lowering flags to half-staff. Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations also are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff.
To lower flags to half-staff, flags should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The process is reversed before the flag is lowered for the day.
Flags should be returned to full-staff on Thursday, December 31, 2020.
Oakland County Captures Top Fiscal Reporting Award
Pontiac, Michigan – Oakland County’s fiscal leadership remains strong in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has bestowed top honors for fiscal reporting on Oakland County for the 29th year in a row. The county earned the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for Fiscal Year 2019, which was published in 2020. The CAFR discloses the county’s finances in full detail to anyone who wants to review them, especially those who seek to invest in Oakland County.
“This year has been full of challenges and our Fiscal Services team has done a tremendous job, maintaining top notch services to taxpayers throughout the pandemic,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “They facilitated the county’s use of federal CARES Act funds in our pandemic response while implementing a balanced budget, maintaining our AAA bond rating, and publishing the CAFR report at the beginning of the pandemic. This recognition from their government peers is well-deserved.”
Oakland County Fiscal Services Officer Lynn Sonkiss congratulated her team for their high-level of commitment throughout 2020.
“Compiling the CAFR each year requires a substantial amount of work and this award is one that we do not take for granted,” Sonkiss said. “All of our fiscal staff contributed to this significant effort.”
Fiscal Services staffer Carol Morin coordinated the CAFR document while employees Chen Tsai, Raleigh Parrott, Penny Cremer, Shannon Lee, and Dave Nelson ran reports or made other key contributions to the document.
The GFOA awards the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to governments to encourage and assist (them) to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. To view the fiscal 2019 CAFR, click this link.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 30, 2020
CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112, wheatonb@
MI COVID Alert now available in two additional languages
LANSING, Mich. – Today the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) announced the launch of Spanish and Arabic language options for its anonymous exposure notification mobile app, MI COVID Alert.
“It is critical that we continue to recognize and find ways to meet the diverse needs of communities across our state,” said Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS. “MI COVID Alert is an important tool in our continued efforts to bring the numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths down. We’re excited that this app update will break down language barriers and ensure access for more Michiganders.”
When just 15% of a population used an exposure notification app like MI COVID Alert, researchers from Oxford University found a potential to reduce infections and deaths.
Since the statewide launch of the English language version last month, MI COVID Alert has been downloaded 481,906 times. This represents nearly 10% of Michigan residents ages 18- to 64-years-old who are likely to have smartphones.
Spanish and Arabic options are available through both the Apple and Google app stores. Users may also select and change languages by going into Settings, selecting General, and clicking Language and Region in order to choose Spanish or Arabic on their iOS or Android smartphones. Rather than using GPS, MI COVID Alert uses randomly generated phone codes and low-energy Bluetooth technology to detect distances between phones with the app. This technology protects the privacy of all users and prevents tracking someone’s exact location. No personally identifiable information is required or shared with other users and officials. When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they are eligible to receive a randomly generated PIN. This PIN allows individuals to share a positive test result anonymously in MI COVID Alert.
After a positive test result is entered into the app, close contacts – anyone within six feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period – will receive an anonymous push notification letting them know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and the number of days since the possible exposure took place.
App users can now retrieve a PIN three ways by:
Michigan worked with the app developer, as well as Apple and Google, to make MI COVID Alert compatible with apps in other states. Wisconsin, Virginia, Arizona, New York, Alabama, New Jersey and a growing number of other states have launched similar exposure notifications apps or have apps in development. MI COVID Alert works in conjunction with traditional contact tracing, proper mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing, but is not a replacement for these precautions or participation in contact tracing. People who are exposed to COVID-19 should get tested and consider quarantining for 14 days from the date of possible exposure. If a person is still symptom-free on day 10, they can end quarantine early. However, they should continue monitoring for symptoms for four additional days.
Individuals in need of testing may visit the COVID-19 website to find a testing location near them. They may also contact the Michigan COVID-19 hotline to locate and schedule an appointment.
The exposure notification feature included in recent iOS and Android operating system updates only works with a companion app like MI COVID Alert, which is available for iOS and Android phones.