The COVID-19 vaccines appear to be effective in protecting against serious illness from the more contagious delta variant of the virus. However, the variant continues to infect many in regions throughout the world, with news reports of renewed lockdowns in Australia and New Zeeland and increasing numbers of cases in U.S. states including Missouri, California, Florida and Texas, where fewer residents are vaccinated. Meanwhile, Michigan’s vaccine dashboard shows more than 61% of residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with nearly 9 million doses administered.
The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.
Emergency Orders Rescinded Effective June 22
Several emergency public health orders that have been in place for much of the last 15 months are rescinded as of 12:01 a.m. June 22. The orders rescinded and the dates on which they took effect are:
- Gatherings and Face Mask Order (June 1, 2021)
- Temporary Restrictions for Entry into Congregate Care and Juvenile Justice Facilities (Oct. 29, 2020)
- Mandatory Testing for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Juvenile Justice Facility Staff (Sept. 18, 2020)
- Mandatory Testing for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Hospitals and Centers Staff (Sept. 14, 2020)
- Exceptions to Temporary Restrictions on Entry into Congregate Care and Juvenile Justice Facilities (June 29, 2020)
- Exceptions to Temporary Restrictions on Entry into Certain Facilities (June 3, 2020)
- Safe Housing for Housing Unstable Individuals (May 12, 2020)
- Handling of Bodily Remains (May 4, 2020)
- Safe Housing for Michigan Homeless (April 28, 2020)
While the rescission of the facemask and hospital visitor restrictions would seemingly allow hospitals to stop screening visitors and make their own determinations about masking, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) announced new rules June 22 that essentially defer to the OSHA at the federal level. The OSHA rules currently in place still require healthcare facilities to screen visitors and require masks for employees. However, some exceptions are outlined by the OSHA for well-defined areas where employees are fully vaccinated; a flowchart on the OSHA website provides details. The OSHA also refers healthcare facilities to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that continue to urge mask requirements for visitors. The MHA is reviewing the OSHA complete set of rules.
Because the MIOSHA adopted the OSHA rules by reference, the OSHA effective and compliance dates apply. The OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is effective June 21, 2021. The compliance date for the ETS is July 6, 2021, with a few exceptions. Compliance with paragraphs (i) Physical Barriers, (k) Ventilation, and (n) Training is required by July 21, 2021.
As an interim final rule, the new OSHA standard is open for comment. The MHA will submit comments on behalf of its members after a more thorough review of the rule, and members are encouraged to share content for the MHA comment letter with Laura Appel. The MHA will continue to advocate with the MIOSHA for consistency in state and federal rules for healthcare settings and keep members apprised of any developments on this issue. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).