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Whitmer signs order allowing public bodies to meet electronically

The order temporarily changes the Open Meetings Act through April 15.
Credit: AP
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media about the state's steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus at a Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 press conference at the Michigan Emergency Operations Center in Dimondale, Mich. (Malachi Barrett/Ann Arbor News, MLive.com via AP)

LANSING, Mich. — Public bodies, including boards, commissions and councils can use telephone or video-conferencing methods to meet and conduct business during the COVID-19 outbreak, under a new executive order. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the order Wednesday and it will remain in effect until April 15 at 11:59 p.m. 

“We are taking every measure we can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect Michigan families, but recognize that public bodies still have an obligation to conduct business as usual,” Whitmer said, in a press release.

Public bodies must ensure members of the public have access to the virtual meetings. 

Gov. Whitmer provided the following guidelines to ensure two-way communication:

  • Provide adequate notice to the public of the meeting.
  • Post a public meeting notice on their website.
  • Permit participants to record or broadcast the public meeting.
  • Allow participants to address the public body during a public comment period.

The order also temporarily authorizes public bodies, departments, and agencies to use technology to enable remote participation in public comment and hearings, and temporarily excuses school boards from monthly meeting requirements.

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Do you have more questions about COVID-19 in Michigan? Check out the state's website. 

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