MDHHS updates Agricultural Employee testing

MDHHS updates Agricultural Employee testing

June 15, 2021
Contact: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, MICH. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has updated its Order for COVID-19 testing for agricultural employees to align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to exempt fully vaccinated individuals from routine screening testing.

“We are updating this order to align with CDC guidance on testing of fully vaccinated individuals,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “Fully vaccinated, asymptomatic individuals will now be exempt from most testing requirements. We encourage everyone to join the 60% of Michiganders who have already been vaccinated with one of the three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.”

“Michigan’s migrant and agricultural workforce is a critical link in our state’s food supply chain, so their health and safety are always top of mind as we move through the final phases of the pandemic,” said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Protecting workers while keeping Michigan moving is a very difficult task, and we are thankful for MDHHS’ hard work and careful consideration when modifying screening and testing requirements for food workers and migrant labor housing providers.”

Under the Order, housing operators must:

  • Provide testing for any housing resident exhibiting the principal symptoms of COVID-19 or has suspected exposure to COVID-19, regardless of that individual’s vaccination status.
  • Provide testing for all newly arriving residents within 48 hours after arrival unless the resident is fully vaccinated and is not exhibiting the principal symptoms of COVID-19 or has already been tested in the previous 72 hours.
  • To the greatest extent possible, house newly arriving residents in a separate living unit from current residents for the number of days as directed by the CDC, currently 14 days after arrival, unless they are fully vaccinated.
  • If housing in a separate living unit cannot be accomplished, newly arriving residents, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a face mask at all times during the first 14 days after arrival, or the number of days as directed by the CDC if different, including in dwelling units and after work hours, except when eating, drinking, or performing personal hygiene activities or if the resident cannot medically tolerate a face mask.
  • Provide a second test to newly arriving residents 10 to 14 days after arrival unless they are fully vaccinated.

Employers of migrant or seasonal workers and agricultural operations with over 20 employees on-site at a time must:

  • Provide testing for any worker exhibiting the principal symptoms of COVID-19 or who has suspected exposure to COVID-19, regardless of that individual’s vaccination status.
  • Provide testing for all new workers prior to beginning work unless they are fully vaccinated and not exhibiting the principal symptoms of COVID-19.

Employers and housing operators have several options for completing testing, including contracting with a medical provider, occupational health provider, laboratory or other vendor. Employers and housing operators facing challenges arranging testing may submit a request for testing assistance to MDHHS at a COVID Tests/Support Request.

Following a positive test of a worker, employers must take all precautions in accordance with relevant guidance from the CDC to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The latest information about COVID-19 is available at and

food assistance will receive additional payment in June

food assistance will receive additional payment in June

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CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112,

All Michigan households eligible for food assistance
will receive additional payment in June

LANSING, Mich. – All Michigan families who are eligible for food assistance benefits will receive an additional payment in June in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced.

Close to 700,000 Michigan households will benefit under approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service

June is the second month that all Michigan households will receive the additional benefits. Previously – beginning in April 2020 – families already receiving the maximum monthly amount of assistance were not eligible for additional COVID-19 emergency benefits, while others received an increase that brought them to the maximum monthly allotment.

Now all households will receive an increase of at least $95 monthly, even if they are already receiving the maximum payment or are close to that amount. Households that received over $95 to bring them to the maximum payment for their group size will continue to receive that larger amount.

Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card from June 12-22. Additional benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.

“As we continue to return to normal, it’s important to note that there are still many people who are struggling due to the global pandemic,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “MDHHS believes it is critically important to help people feed their families.”

More than 1.2 million people in Michigan receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program.

Below are the maximum allowable benefits for SNAP customers based on their respective household size:

  • One Person: $234
  • Two Persons: $430
  • Three Persons: $616
  • Four Persons: $782
  • Five Persons: $929
  • Six Persons: $1,114
  • Seven Persons: $1,232
  • Eight Persons: $1,408

The federal government is providing additional funding to states for food assistance under House Resolution 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to or calling a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.

Customer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.

Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

25 Michigan schools recognized for centering child health

25 Michigan schools recognized for centering child health

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CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112,

More than 25 Michigan schools recognized for centering
child and adolescent health even during crisis

LANSING, Mich. – In recognition of teachers, administrators, health champions, community members and students taking initiative to build healthier school environments, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is recognizing 28 Michigan schools for fostering healthy eating, physical activity habits and tobacco-free lifestyles, and impacting more than 14,000 students during the 2020-2021 school year.

“Recognizing these schools is more important than ever this year given the challenges we faced together,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “The schools being recognized today navigated challenges to go above and beyond to meet the critical health needs of growing children and youth through opportunities to participate in physical activity, nutritious school meals and snacks, and nutrition and health education in-person and remotely.”

The Michigan School Wellness Award program is a collaboration with MDHHS, Michigan Department of Education, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and the Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan Coalition.

“Keeping children’s bodies and minds strong through proper nutrition and exercise helps them stay focused in school to achieve academic and personal success,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Wellness lessons learned at school and home can last a child’s lifetime.”

The Michigan School Wellness Award program aims to engage schools statewide in creating healthy environments by establishing School Wellness Teams, completing the Healthy School Action Tools, and implementing sustainable policy and environmental changes. Schools that have achieved all of these elements are recognized with the top-level Gold award.

This year’s winners laud such achievements as offering health and physical education in both traditional and virtual settings and supporting school staff so they could be at their best for the students. The winners of this year’s School Wellness Awards include:


  • Almont Middle School, Almont
  • Auburn Elementary School, Auburn Hills
  • Brookside Elementary School, Big Rapids
  • David Ellis Academy, Detroit
  • Dudley STEM, Battle Creek
  • East Leroy Elementary School, East Leroy
  • Fremont International Academy, Battle Creek
  • Highland Pines School, Caro
  • Jesse L. Anderson Elementary School, Trenton
  • John D. Pierce Middle School, Waterford
  • Lamora Park School, Battle Creek
  • Pennfield North School, Battle Creek
  • Pennfield Purdy School, Battle Creek
  • Post Franklin Elementary School, Battle Creek
  • Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy, Detroit
  • Valley View Elementary School, Battle Creek
  • Vassar High School, Vassar



  • Ann J. Kellogg School, Battle Creek
  • Bentley Middle School, Burton
  • Boyne City Middle School, Boyne City
  • Galesburg-Augusta Middle School, Augusta
  • Grass Lake Middle School, Grass Lake
  • Marquette Elementary School, Detroit
  • J. DeJonge Junior High School, Ludington
  • Charles Borromeo Catholic School, Coldwater
  • Swan Valley Middle School, Saginaw
  • Vista Charter Academy, Wyoming


  • Henry Ford II High School, Sterling Heights

To apply for the program, schools provide information about nutrition, physical education/activity and tobacco-free practices, and submit at least one success story.

To view school award winners and learn more about the School Wellness Award Program, please visit


MDHHS shares improvements to child welfare system 

MDHHS shares improvements to child welfare system 

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CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112,

MDHHS shares improvements to Michigan’s child welfare system 

Court appearance highlights continued reform that protects youth, helps families 

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and court-appointed federal monitors today shared continued significant improvements made to the state’s child welfare system.

Accomplishments continue under the administration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who took office in January 2019. Today’s updates came during a virtual federal court hearing to address progress during the first six months of 2020 – when the state made inroads even amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, MDHHS child welfare staff continued to make important regular contacts with children under state care, using technology to meet with children virtually even when they could not meet in person. From March to June 2020, 97% of monthly worker visits with children in foster care occurred.

“MDHHS and its Children’s Services Agency remain dedicated to accomplishing the priorities that have been in place based on the department’s agreement with the court,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “They include strongly focusing on child safety and well-being in foster homes and child-caring institutions, maintaining family connections, ensuring we find suitable permanent homes for children in a timely fashion, and continuing to shift child welfare toward a more prevention-focused framework.”

In June 2019 – five months after Whitmer took office – Judge Nancy G. Edmunds of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan approved a new agreement that streamlined the monitoring process, allowing MDHHS to devote more resources to directly supporting children and families.

During the six-month period covered by the new court monitoring report, Michigan improved data collected by the state’s child welfare technology system. That provides staff with better information to keep children safe and families together. The state also improved its performance by meeting the standard for timely completion of Children’s Protective Services investigations of reported child abuse or neglect.

Today’s court appearance was the first for Demetrius Starling as the new executive director of the department’s Children’s Services Agency.

“I also want to commend the state for what seems to be a very energetic start to the work that Director Hertel and Director Starling are supervising and overseeing,” Judge Edmunds said. “I’m glad to see that the department is taking a really aggressive approach to resolving these outstanding problems.”

Starling took over last month following the departure of JooYeun Chang, who received praise from the court for her reform efforts.

“I was inspired by the progress we made under the leadership of former director Chang,” Starling said. “I am dedicated to building on our progress. We are committed to addressing the needs of Michigan’s most vulnerable children. Michigan has made significant strides in improving safety for children in care as a result of our continued meaningful collaboration with private child welfare agency partners and community stakeholders. That will remain a top priority. If we do that, Michigan eventually will be able to exit federal court oversight.”

The report released today by the court monitors shows Michigan met commitments for:

  • Generating from its child welfare information system accurate and timely reports and information regarding the requirements in the court agreement.
  • 90% of all investigations of reported child abuse or neglect to be completed within the required time frames.
  • 95% of foster care workers to have caseloads of 15 or fewer children.

In addition, MDHHS has further made progress in priority areas mentioned during last year’s court appearance. That includes continuing to take steps to reduce maltreatment of children in foster care and provide increased support to relative caregivers so they can keep children safe.

The department also has made additional progress in updating the child welfare technology system that is used by caseworkers and used to track data to report to the court that demonstrates improvements. The department is beginning to transition to a new information technology system. “We know that the top priority for child welfare staff is engaging directly with families and children instead of being hindered by an outdated technology system,” Starling said.

MDHHS also shared with the court today comprehensive reform actions the department has taken in the wake of the death of a child who was improperly restrained by staff at a child-caring institution in Kalamazoo in May 2020. That includes restricting the use of restraints in facilities, reducing the number of youth in child-caring facilities by placing children in more family-like settings or reunifying them safely with their families more quickly and creating a task force that recommended reform of child-caring facilities.

To view the latest federal court monitor report and other information, go to

Michiganders reminded to take precautions around rodents

Michiganders reminded to take precautions around rodents

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CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112,

First case of hantavirus reported in Michigan

Michiganders reminded to take precautions around rodents

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Washtenaw County Health Department are investigating the first confirmed human case of Sin Nombre hantavirus detected in Michigan. An adult female in Washtenaw County was recently hospitalized with a serious pulmonary illness from Sin Nombre hantavirus. The individual was likely exposed when cleaning an unoccupied dwelling that contained signs of an active rodent infestation.


Hantavirus was first discovered to be responsible for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in ill patients in the southwest United States in 1993. HPS has since infected people throughout the U.S. and the Americas. Hantavirus infections are associated with domestic, occupational or recreational activities that bring humans into contact with infected rodents. Most cases have been identified in adults and tend to occur in the spring and summer.


“HPS is caused by some strains of hantavirus and is a rare but severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can occur one to five weeks after a person has exposure to fresh urine, droppings or saliva from infected rodents,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry hantavirus is at risk for HPS and healthcare providers with a suspect case of hantavirus should contact their local health department to report the case and discuss options for confirmatory testing.”


Humans become infected when freshly dried materials contaminated by rodent excreta are disturbed and inhaled, get into breaks in the skin or on mucous membranes or when ingesting contaminated food or water. Bites from rodents can also transmit hantavirus. The highest risk of exposure takes place when entering or cleaning rodent-infested structures. There are not any documented person-to-person cases of hantavirus transmission in the U.S.

Symptoms of HPS can be non-specific at first and include fever, chills, body aches, headache and gastro-intestinal signs such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The illness can progress to include coughing and shortness of breath. HPS has a 40% fatality rate.

“We can prevent and reduce the risk of hantavirus infection by taking precautions and being alert to the possibility of it,” says Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, medical director with Washtenaw County Health Department. “Use rubber, latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves when cleaning areas with rodent infestations, ventilate areas for at least 30 minutes before working, and make sure to wet areas thoroughly with a disinfectant or chlorine solution before cleaning.”

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by wild rodents and occur worldwide. Several hantaviruses that can infect people have been identified in the U.S. and each hantavirus has a primary rodent host. The most important hantavirus in the U.S. that causes HPS is the Sin Nombre virus, which is spread by the deer mouse and white footed mouse.

The greatest risk for hantavirus infection is associated with opening or cleaning closed-up buildings with rodent infestations without proper protection. Healthcare providers with a suspect case of hantavirus should contact their local health department to report the case and discuss options for confirmatory testing.

Hantaviruses are viruses and are susceptible to most disinfectants (diluted chlorine solutions, detergents, general purpose household disinfectants including those based on phenols, quaternary ammonium compounds and hypochlorite). Depending on environmental conditions, these viruses probably survive less than one week in indoor environments and much shorter periods (hours) when exposed to sunlight outdoors. Special precautions should be taken when cleaning up after rodents. In cases of heavy rodent infestation, it is recommended to consult with a pest-control professional.

For more information about HPS, visit

aging adults can sign up for free online classes

aging adults can sign up for free online classes

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Press Release


CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112,

Michigan’s aging adults can sign up for free online classes offered by MDHHS to improve their brain health

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and GetSetUp are partnering to offer classes to improve brain health during June, which is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

Healthy lifestyle choices can improve general health and can possibly protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.

The MDHHS Aging & Adult Services Agency has a partnership with GetSetUp, a mission-driven education technology company dedicated to creating economic and learning opportunities for older adults. The partnership provides free virtual learning and social engagement opportunities for Michiganders ages 60 and over.

The Alzheimer’s Association says regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. Additionally, studies say that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as people age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.

“Dementia – including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form – is an emerging public health crisis,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, who recently became senior deputy director for the MDHHS Public Health Administration and previously was senior deputy director of the Aging and Adult Services Agency. “An estimated 190,000 Michiganders age 65 and over are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to grow to 220,000 by 2025. Brain health is a crucial component of healthy aging and we are pleased to offer these and over 150 classes on the GetSetUp platform to older Michiganders at no cost.”

GetSetUp offers a wide variety of classes to empower older adults to connect with others and stay healthy, including:

“We have designed GetSetUp online classes and events to provide the physical, mental and social activities that are so critical to healthy living as we work toward a day when we can all age-in-place,” said Lawrence Kosick, co-founder of GetSetUp. “And starting in June, we’re excited to be able to offer even more programming to support brain health and education around dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With over 80,000 of Michiganders over age 60 already benefiting through our partnership with MDHHS, we’re excited to be able to expand our content in the areas that are most needed and support even more older adults in Michigan.”

Michiganders age 60 and over may enroll in any GetSetUp session at no cost by visiting and using the code MICHIGANHEALTH or by calling 888-559-1614.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at or 800-272-3900.