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Whitmer vetoes bill that would limit virus-related orders

DETROIT (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a bill Wednesday that would kill emergency public health orders after 28 days unless the Legislature approved, another shot in the power struggle between Michigan’s Democratic chief executive and the state’s Republican lawmakers over how to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill “would recklessly undermine” efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Whitmer said.

“Unfortunately, epidemics are not limited to 28 days. We should not so limit our ability to respond to them,” the governor said.

Whitmer has turned to her health department to set many virus-related rules in Michigan, including mask mandates, limits on gathering sizes, and a ban on indoor restaurant dining, since losing a court case in October. The state Supreme Court said a 1945 law that served as the foundation for months of Whitmer’s unilateral orders was unconstitutional.

Republicans who control the House and Senate have repeatedly complained that Whitmer has ignored them in making COVID-19 policies and ordered too many one-size-fits-all remedies.

The state reported more than 4,200 new cases Wednesday and 51 deaths. More than 12,000 Michigan residents have died since March.

“We all want this pandemic to be over. Let’s do what needs to be done now so we can return to a strong economy and normal day-to-day activities,” Whitmer said in her veto letter.

She also vetoed a bill that would have repealed the ’45 law that was declared unconstitutional.

VACCINES

Judges were told they could see more petitions seeking temporary guardians for people in long-term care facilities. The issue is whether residents can give consent for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is likely that the issue of capacity to consent to inoculation may arise for those residents who are incapacitated … and who do not have a patient advocate or a guardian who may act on their behalf,” the State Court Administrative Office said.

“You will need to know which facilities are in line for vaccinations and when those vaccinations might start,” the memo stated.

More than 5,000 long-term care facilities have signed up to receive the Moderna vaccine, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive. There are 91,000 people there, including staff.

The University of Michigan said hundreds of employees and students who are in the first category to get the vaccine will receive a Pfizer-BioNTech dose, starting Thursday at the football stadium.

Michigan Medicine already has vaccinated more than 600 of its health care workers, the university said.

A nurse at a prison in the Upper Peninsula became the first state Corrections Department employee to get the vaccine Wednesday. About 80% of inmates at the Kinross prison tested positive in November.

“It’s been a rough nine months. We are all tired,” Cindi Jenkins said in a statement. “It feels like it has encompassed your life. It’s all we talk about.”

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