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We answer your questions about COVID-19 in Detroit...

We answer your questions about COVID-19 in Detroit and Michigan’s stay at home order

We’re updating this story as policies change. Last updated April 6.

Michigan’s “stay at home” mandate, announced March 23 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, is the latest restriction to daily life in the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic before it overwhelms hospitals, supplies and healthcare workers. (The projections for what happens if we don’t implement drastic measures like sheltering in place are truly, truly alarming.) The order, affecting many companies and all residents, went into effect just after midnight on May 24 and will be in place until at least April 13, though Whitmer has said she anticipates extending the order to May.

At its core, the new rule is simple: stay home unless you have an emergency, are a worker on the frontlines or need to take care of one of those essential human needs like eating. If you’re a nonessential business, close up shop and send your workers — you guessed it — home. But there are plenty of caveats and grey areas…. and sometimes “essential” is in the eye of the beholder. So behold: your most pressing questions about daily life under shelter in place, answered. 

SHOULD I WEAR A CLOTH MASK WHEN I GO OUT, EVEN IF I’M NOT SICK ?

On Friday, April 3, President Trump announced that the CDC reversed an earlier stance that cloth masks were only recommended for those showing symptoms of Covid-19 or caring for someone who is sick. The agency now recommends that everyone wear a cloth mask when they leave home because, the CDC director warns, a quarter of people infected with the virus may not show symptoms. However, President Trump says it the guidance is voluntary and he may not wear one. And  WHO maintains its guidance that masks are not necessary unless you have symptoms or are caring for someone who is sick.

IF I BREAK THE ORDER, WILL I GO TO JAIL?
No. Local cops are tasked with enforcing the emergency order, and they’re not patrolling streets demanding paperwork to justify your movements. (Like they are in France!) But if you start throwing ragers in your backyard? They could come knocking and ticket and fine you. Now, if you’re an employer who starts making non-essential workers come in? Well, that’s more serious. On Thursday, Apr. 2, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an Emergency Order which raised the fine for violating the Executive Order to “$1,000 for each violation or day that a violation continues.”

WAIT, SO I CAN ACTUALLY GET A TICKET FOR GATHERING?

Yes. A willful defiance of the stay-at-home order is punishable by a misdemeanor and up to a $1,000 fine. (It used to be $500, but on April 2 it got raised to a grand.) Sure, but has anyone actually been ticketed? There was a large party broken up in Rouge Park and at least one person was ticketed. Enforcing the order is up to the local cops so data isn’t readily available. But remember: places of worship are exempt from the governor’s stay-at-home order. 

HOW DO I REPORT A NONESSENTIAL BUSINESS THAT IS STAYING OPEN?

You can report scofflaws online at www.michigan.gov/agcomplaints or by calling (877) 765-8388. Source: www.michigan.gov/agcomplaints

CAN I GO OUTSIDE?
Yes. Take a walk. A run. A hike. Anything where you keep your distance from friends or competitors — so no pickup basketball games. And keep your kids off playground equipment, which could host and spread germs. Remember: Stay back six feet!

CAN I GO HANG OUT AT MY FRIEND’S HOUSE?
Drop something off on their porch if you want, but don’t go inside and get cozy. The whole idea of social distancing is distance. Zoom your people instead.

ARE MY KIDS REALLY GOING TO SCHOOL ONLINE?

In-person instruction for students K-12 is officially suspended for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. School districts must find a way to continue instruction for students through the rest of the semester — and it must be equitable. So if the plan requires online learning, the district must ensure that all students in the district have access. Additionally, the order allows for school districts to adopt a balanced schedule – aka allowing them to start the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day.

I HEARD MAYOR DUGGAN SAY 1,000 PEOPLE PER DAY ARE GETTING TESTED. HOW DO I GET A COVID-19 TEST?

First, you need a prescription for a test. So if you are having symptoms of COVID-19 — or have been in contact with someone who tested positive — reach out to your doctor. If they feel you should get a test, they will write you a prescription for an appointment through the Coronavirus Community Care Network. But if you have those things, the process is moving smoothly, according to this first-person account from Freep reporter M.L. Elrick.

CAN I JUST DRIVE UP TO A DRIVE-THRU TESTING FACILITY?

No. You must have a prescription for a test and an appointment. How do you get a scrip? You need to call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person.

WHO DO I CALL IF I DON’T HAVE A DOCTOR?

You’re not alone. A lot of people don’t have a primary care doc to call. But more than 25 local docs have said they will accept new patients to help fight the virus. You can find the list here. If you have health insurance, you can also call their 1-800 numbers or ask-a-nurse service to help you find an in-network doc who is accepting patients. 

I DON’T HAVE A CAR. IS THERE TRANSPORTATION TO HELP ME GET TESTED?

The City of Detroit is working on providing transportation to patients needing Covid-19 testing. It has asked transportation providers to offer up their services, but as of April 3 there wasn’t a plan in place. However, there may be a deal in place by Monday
Have a transportation company? Sign up as a transportation provider

MY MOM IS SICK. CAN I GO VISIT HER? 
Yes. You are allowed to go and help care for family members who are sick or need help. That even goes for their dog or cat. But if mom is in the hospital, nursing home or residential care facility, the answer is, you can’t go visit. 

CAN I STILL TAKE MY KID TO DAYCARE? THIS WFH ISH IS REAL.
Yes, daycares are allowed to remain open. But they are open to care for the children of essential workers (you know, like nurses and doctors and truck drivers) who can’t work from home. 

CAN I CATCH THE CORONA FROM MY PET?

Good news – social distancing does not apply to your beloved pup that is thrilled you are WFH. According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that a dog, cat, or any pet can transmit COVID-19.

BUT WHAT IF SOMEONE WHO IS AFFECTED SNEEZES ON MY PET?

You’re probably ok. Your pet’s fur, like other porous services (read: fabric), traps viruses and makes them less likely to be transmitted via touch.  But what we understand about this virus changes frequently. So as a precaution, always wash your hands after touching your pet and don’t let him greet strangers or run off leash with others. Maybe give Fido a bath now and then, too.

WILL MY GARBAGE GET PICKED UP? IS ANYBODY HOME AT THE WATER TREATMENT PLANT?
Yes. Garbage pickup is on the list of essential jobs. Utility and water workers will also still be reporting for duty.

IS IT SAFE TO GET DELIVERIES?

Yes, the CDC says it is generally safe: “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.”

That’s because even though the virus can last on certain surfaces for up to a few days, its potency starts reducing as soon as it lands on the surface. An infected person would need to sneeze on your bag as they were handing it to you, and you would have to touch the droplets and then ingest the virus by touching your face. 

But it doesn’t hurt to take precautions — especially if you’re already at high risk for contracting COVID-19. So if you have food or groceries delivered, try to keep a safe distance from the driver. Wash your hands before handling the packaging and then again before you touch the food. Hand washing kills the virus, so keep those hands clean!Source: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/food-safety-meal-kits.html

CRAP! I NEED MUSHROOMS FOR THIS NEW RECIPE I’M TRYING. AM I OUT OF LUCK?
No. Grocery stores will be open. But try to limit your visits, without stockpiling. Now is a good time to get good at meal planning and shopping from the list. Bonus: fewer spontaneous quarantine snack purchases. 

CAN I STILL GET DINNER DELIVERED?
Yes. Restaurants can still serve you with delivery or carryout. But please, please, please for all that is holy: Follow instructions! Most restaurants are following a simple system: Order online and pick up curbside so nobody has to go in the restaurant. But last Saturday we ordered some of those deadly-good chicken wings from Flowers of Vietnam. While we waited in our car, as instructed, we watched four others crowd in the lobby to wait. Right. Next. To. Each. Other. 

CAN I CATCH GERMS FROM MY FOOD DELIVERY?

The CDC says it is unlikely. But they can’t 100% rule it out — just like packaging. So wash your hands and keep a minimum of six feet between you and anyone who delivers your food. Source:

CAN I STILL GET BOOZE?
Yes. Party stores can remain open. But do everyone a favor and plan ahead. This is not a get-out-of-executive-order-free card. You need to be staying home, not using the liquor store as an excuse to go out. And don’t horde all the gin. 

CAN I STILL GET MY BUD?
Yes — chill. Medical and recreational shops are open for pickup and delivery. Check with your dispensary to confirm, and you’ll likely need to order online as you won’t be allowed inside

I DON’T HAVE A WASHER/DRYER. WILL LAUNDROMATS BE OPEN?
They can legally be open, but you should call ahead. The Commons laundromat and cafe on Detroit’s east side, for example, closed last week. Lafayette Laundry near Lafayette Park is staying open, but they won’t take drop-off. You gotta wash your skivvies yourself. 

CAN I GET GAS AND SOME URGENT ENGINE REPAIR?
Yep — you can’t go buy a new ride at a dealership, but car repair shops and gas stations are open. 

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A CAR?
Buses are still running, but with reduced service. Detroit is going to a Saturday schedule during the week, with eight express routes suspended.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY LICENSE OR VEHICLE REGISTRATION EXPIRES?

Whelp, you’re going to be driving on an expired license if you’re not eligible to renew online since the Secretary of State offices are closed. But the state department did ask the cops to exercise discretion. (No concerns there.) Late fees have been waived going back to March 13. 

BUT WHAT IF MY JOB REQUIRES A LICENSE AND I’M AN ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE?

If you are an employee whose job requires an up-to-date license/CDL and who supports services necessary for sustaining life, the state department can conduct emergency transactions for you. But you have to ask your professional association to make the request on your behalf. 

HOW DO I MAKE MY DEPOSITS?
Financial service companies can stay open. But if you can, now’s the time to try downloading a banking app and make your money moves at home. 

CAN I STILL PITCH IN?
Volunteering is allowed, at essential providers — but check in before you show up. 

CAN I TRAVEL? 
Yes-ish. If you need to drive home to another state — or come back to Michigan from elsewhere — you can do that. And if you have a cabin on a lake somewhere, go! (And take us with you. We promise to stay six feet away and wash our hands.)  But if you’re talking about a vacation? No. Just stay put. –Amy Haimerl


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