Whitmer Applauds School Districts Implementing Masks 

Whitmer Applauds School Districts Implementing Masks 

Header 2021


August 27, 2021

Contact: press@michigan.gov


Governor Whitmer Applauds School Districts Implementing Smart Mask Policies

A majority of Michigan students now covered by a mask requirement, ensuring safe, in-person learning


LANSING, Mich.—Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued the following statement after Wayne County announced a mask requirement for schools, which brings the total number of school districts in Michigan with a mask policy to 179, covering more than 674,000 students or 53.8% of students in traditional public schools in Michigan.


“After 19 months of COVID, the science is clear: vaccines and masks keep kids safe and help them continue learning in person.


“On vaccines, the message is simple: every eligible Michigander 12 and older should get their safe, effective, and FDA-approved, vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community.


“On masks, both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC have strongly recommended that districts require masks for students, teachers, and staff in schools regardless of vaccination status because it will allow them everyone to stay safe while continuing to learn and grow in-person. I agree with our top health experts.


“As of today, 179 districts totaling over 53% of Michigan students, are covered by mask requirements implemented by their school district or local county health department. That number has increased substantially over the last few weeks, and we expect to see that trend continue as the first day of school approaches.


“Districts and local public health leaders should keep working together to implement mask guidelines and create buy-in at the community level, which leads to better outcomes and better adherence to policies that keep kids, teachers, staff, and parents safe.


“Together, we can protect ourselves from COVID and ensure kids keep learning in-person.”

Mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus found

Mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus found

MDHHS banner with logo no names

Press Release


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112, SutfinL1@michigan.gov

First mosquitoes of 2021 carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis
virus found in Barry County
Michiganders urged to take precautions against mosquitoes

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan residents are being reminded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the detection of the first Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)-positive mosquito pool of the year in Barry County.

The discovery in Barry County follows a report by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of an EEE-positive horse from Livingston County and underscores the need for both Michigan residents and horse owners to take precautions.

“These discoveries indicate that the EEE virus is here in Michigan and provides warning that residents could also become infected by a mosquito,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “Michigan residents are urged to take precautions and protect themselves from mosquito bites as EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., with a 33 percent fatality rate among humans who become ill.”

EEE has a 90 percent fatality rate in horses that become ill, and infection in both people and animals occurs through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is not spread from person-to-person.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, and body and joint aches. Illness can eventually develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.

This is the first year the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has been performing testing on mosquitoes collected by local health departments and academic partners. To date, over 43,000 mosquitoes have been tested.

Residents can stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product, to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

“For horses, EEE is a serious but preventable disease,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “Positive mosquito pools can help to identify areas of risk. Horse owners should work with their veterinarian to develop a plan to protect their animals.”

To safeguard their horses, owners could take the following measures:

  • Talking to a veterinarian about vaccinating horses against EEE.
  • Placing horses in a barn under fans (as mosquitoes are not strong flyers) during peak mosquito activity from dusk to dawn.
  • Using an insect repellant on the animals approved for the species.
  • Eliminating standing water on the property-i.e., fill in puddles, repair eaves, and change the water in buckets and bowls at least once a day.
  • Contacting a veterinarian if a horse shows signs of the illness: mild fever and stumbling, which can progress to being down and struggling to stand.

Additionally, West Nile virus activity in Michigan has increased in wildlife and mosquito populations. Health officials have identified 11 positive mosquito pools and 10 infected animals in the Lower Peninsula. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported to date; however, a case has been reported in a horse from Midland County.

Mosquito-borne illness will continue to be a risk in Michigan until late fall when nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing.

For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, visit Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

Whitmer Secures $13 Million Grant for Rural Hospitals

Whitmer Secures $13 Million Grant for Rural Hospitals

Header 2021


August 26, 2021

Contact: Press@Michigan.gov


Gov. Whitmer Secures $13 Million Grant for Rural Hospitals in Michigan


LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) secured a $13 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration for 51 small, rural hospitals in Michigan to support COVID-19 testing and mitigation.


“Our top priority is supporting the brave professionals on the frontlines of our health care industry in every corner of our state to ensure that they have what they need to protect themselves, their family, and their neighbors,” said Governor Whitmer. “This funding will help rural hospitals continue serving their communities by expanding their COVID-19 testing capacity and mitigation efforts. I want to thank the nurses, doctors, and all medical professionals who continue to go above and beyond to keep people safe each and every day.”


“The state’s rural hospitals have saved countless lives throughout the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “We are pleased they will be able to use this funding to further help in the fight against COVID-19 as we all work together to end the pandemic.”


Rural hospitals with less than 50 staff will be able to use the funds for testing equipment, personnel, temporary structures or education. Mitigation strategies must be part of the CDC community mitigation framework, including education, contact tracing, communication and outreach. Each hospital will receive about $257,000, which must be used within 18 months of receipt.


The Michigan Center for Rural Health, which serves as the Michigan State Office of Rural Health, will distribute the funding to the hospitals.


“As the State Office of Rural Health, MCRH is dedicated to improving the health of rural Michigan residents and we are pleased to be able to distribute this funding to Michigan’s rural hospitals,” said John Barnas, MCRH executive director. “Rural hospitals have long been the cornerstone of rural communities and have been vital and steadfast in their response to COVID-19.  This funding will benefit the communities greatly, allowing the hospitals to continue their diligent work in the battle against COVID-19 by increasing testing capacity and implementing mitigation strategies to reduce the effects of COVID-19.”


Hospitals receiving funding include:


Ascension Allegan

MidMichigan Medical Center Gladwin

Ascension Borgess-Lee Hospital

MidMichigan Medical Center Gratiot

Ascension Standish

MidMichigan Medical Center West Branch

Ascension St. Joseph

Munising Memorial Hospital

Aspirus Iron River Hospital & Clinics, Inc

Munson Healthcare Cadillac Hospital

Aspirus Ironwood Hospital

Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital

Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital

Munson Healthcare Grayling

Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital

Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital

Baraga County Memorial Hospital

OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group

Bronson Lakeview Hospital

Munson Healthcare Otsego Memorial Hospital

Bronson South Haven Hospital

Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital

Deckerville Hospital

Portage Hospital, LLC

Dickinson County Healthcare System

Promedica Coldwater Regional Hospital

Eaton Rapids Medical Center

Promedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital (Bixby)

Harbor Beach Community Hospital

Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital

Helen Newberry Joy Hospital

Sheridan Community Hospital

Hillsdale Hospital

Scheurer Hospital

Hills & Dales General Hospital

Sparrow Carson Hospital

Kalkaska Memorial Health Center

Sparrow Clinton Hospital

Mackinac Straits Health System

Sparrow Eaton Hospital

Marlette Regional Hospital

Sparrow Ionia Hospital

McKenzie Health System

Sturgis Hospital

McLaren Caro Community Hospital

Three Rivers Health

McLaren Central Michigan

UP Health System-Bell

McLaren Thumb Region

War Memorial Hospital

MidMichigan Medical Center Clare



Whitmer Makes Appointments to Board and Commissions 

Whitmer Makes Appointments to Board and Commissions 

Header 2021


August 26, 2021

Contact: press@michigan.gov


Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to Board and Commissions


LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the following appointments to the Certificate of Need Commission, Elevator Safety Board, Michigan Board of Nursing Home Administrators, and the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council.


Certificate of Need Commission


Eric C. Ferguson, M.D., an Independent of Dexter, is the president and CEO of Huron Valley Radiology, P.C. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics and Doctor of Medicine from the University of Michigan. Dr. Ferguson is appointed to represent physicians licensed under part 170 to engage in the practice of medicine, for a term commencing August 26, 2021 and expiring April 9, 2024. He succeeds Melisa Oca whose term expired April 9, 2021.


Donald A. Haney, a Republican of Middleville, is an administrator for Thornapple Manor in Hastings. He earned his Master of Business Administration from Grand Valley State University and Bachelor of Business Administration from Western Michigan University. Mr. Haney is appointed to represent nursing homes for a term commencing August 26, 2021 and expiring April 9, 2024. He succeeds John Lindsey Dood whose term expired April 9, 2021.


The Certificate of Need (CON) Commission has the responsibility to develop, approve, disapprove, or revise CON Review Standards that are used by the CON Program Section to issue decisions on CON applications. The Commission evaluates the Review Standards for modification on a three-year rotating schedule as identified in the Commission Workplan. The Commission also has the authority to make recommendations to revise the list of covered clinical services subject to CON review.


These appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.


Elevator Safety Board


Sean K. Walker, of Commerce Township, is the business agent and recording secretary for the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 36. He earned a certification from the National Elevator Industry Education Program. Mr. Walker is appointed to represent the elevator constructors’ union for a term commencing August 26, 2021 and expiring July 22, 2025. He succeeds Michael Vandervennet whose term expired July 22, 2021.


The Elevator Safety Board promulgates rules and prepares examinations in relation to contractor licenses. The Board also conducts hearings to determine whether an elevator contractor license or certificate of competency or commission should be suspended or revoked.


This appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.


Michigan Board of Nursing Home Administrators


Cheryl Q. Bray, of Norway, is an administrator for ManorCare Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Kingsford. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing Administration and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Northern Michigan University. Mrs. Bray is reappointed to represent nursing home administrators for a term commencing August 26, 2021 and expiring June 30, 2025.


Dana Prince, Ph.D., of Byron Center, is the executive director for St. Ann’s Home in Grand Rapids. She earned her Master of Health Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from Florida Atlantic University and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences from Western Michigan University. Dr. Prince is appointed to represent nursing home administrators for a term commencing August 26, 2021 and expiring June 30, 2025. She succeeds Ricky Ackerman whose term expired June 30, 2021.


The Michigan Board of Nursing Home Administrators was created to license nursing home administrators who plan, organize, direct, and control the total operation of nursing homes on behalf of the governing board or owner of a nursing home. The Board promotes and protects the public’s health, safety, and welfare by ascertaining minimal entry-level competency of nursing home administrators.


These appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.


Governor’s Educator Advisory Council


Leah J. Porter, of Lansing, is a teacher with Holt Public Schools and the 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year. She earned her Master of Arts in Literacy Education and Bachelor of Arts in Education from Michigan State University. Mrs. Porter is appointed to represent the Teacher of the Year for a term commencing September 1, 2021 and expiring August 31, 2022. She succeeds Owen Bondono whose term expires August 31, 2021.


The Governor’s Educator Advisory Council was created by Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2019-9. The Council will review and make recommendations regarding legislation relevant to this state’s public education system, identify and analyze issues impacting the effectiveness of Michigan’s public education system, identify best practices in public education and recommend corresponding changes and improvements to Michigan’s public education system, and provide other information or advice relevant to public education.


This appointment is not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Veterans get connected with service dogs

Veterans get connected with service dogs

Visit my website Subscribe Like my Facebook Page

A piece of legislation I led in the House that will help more veterans get connected with service dogs was just signed into law by President Biden, and yesterday I had the chance to join him at the White House as it officially was signed into law.

The PAWS Act will offer funding for nonprofits to continue the great work they have done running work-therapy programs for veterans, in which the veterans learn about training the dogs, and then have the option to adopt the dog.

I’ve had the chance to visit with veterans and their service dogs in the district, at places such as Blue Star Service Dogs, where it was clear to see what a difference these dogs can make in the lives of our veterans. If you’ve ever been around a service dog or even just had a dog as a pet — you probably can imagine just how impactful these pups can be.

Service dogs offer such a wide range of benefits to veterans. Research conducted by Kaiser Permanente and Purdue University has shown that working with service dogs alleviates the symptoms of PTSD, leading to better relationships, a lower risk of substance abuse, and overall better mental health.

Getting bipartisan legislation passed in Congress isn’t always easy. But I’m proud to say that the PAWS Act passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. When it comes to dogs and supporting our country’s veterans — working together to get this passed was just common sense.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin