Whitmer signs order protecting workers who stay home fearing COVID-19 exposure

Employees who stay home because they or someone close to them either tests positive for or displays symptoms of COVID-19 no longer have to worry about losing their jobs.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Thursday signed an executive order prohibiting employees from firing, disciplining or taking any other form of retaliation against such employees. The executive order (EO 2020-36) also strengthens the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order by making it the state’s policy that all Michiganders who test positive or show symptoms, or who live with someone who does, should not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.

The order takes effect immediately and remains in place until she lifts the emergency or rescinds the order.

“People who are prioritizing the health and safety of their families, neighbors, and loved ones during this crisis should not be punished by their workplace,” Whitmer said. “Staying home and staying safe is one of the most important things we can do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, and this executive order will ensure more people can do so without facing discrimination from their workplace.

“We have taken aggressive measures to protect our communities, but it’s on all of us to work together to fight this virus,” she added.

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Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said the order will help fight the spread of the disease.

“Ensuring those who experience symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 and the people they live with remain in their homes will help mitigate community spread,” Khaldun said. “It’s crucial that anyone experiencing symptoms, and those they live with, stay home and stay safe.”

Under the order, any and all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or who display one or more of the principal symptoms, such as fever, atypical cough, and atypical shortness of breath, must remain in their home or place of residence.

It includes Michiganders who are otherwise free to leave their homes under the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. People who test positive or who are experiencing symptoms must wait to leave their homes until three days have passed since their symptoms have resolved and seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared, or since they were swabbed for the test that yielded the positive result.

In addition, any and all close contacts of a symptomatic individual or of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should remain in their home until 14 days have passed or the symptomatic individual receives a negative COVID-19 test.

Health-care professionals, workers at a health-care facility, first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters, paramedics), child protective service employees, workers at child caring institutions and correctional officers are exempt from staying at home if a member of their household tests positive for COVID-19 or displays one or more of the principal symptoms provided that their employers’ rules governing occupational health allow them to go to work.

Individuals and household members who test positive for COVID-19 or who display one or more of the principal symptoms may leave their home or place of residence when necessary to obtain food, medicine, or supplies that are needed to sustain or protect life and when those items cannot be obtained via delivery. People may also engage in outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent while remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.

When symptomatic people or their close contacts leave the home, they should wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief. For now, however, supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks should generally be reserved to health-care professionals, first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters, paramedics), and other critical workers.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.