A group of just under three dozen Michigan city officials, including 16 police officers, tested positive this week for COVID-19 or displayed symptoms that required them to quarantine.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts (I) announced Sunday evening that city hall would be closed to the public due to a spike in cases among city officials, saying in a statement at the time, "we have more employees positive than at any other time since this pandemic began in March."
On Monday, Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said that several of the infected police officers were members of the department’s special response team, which handled a barricaded gunman incident two weeks ago.
The Free Press reported that Dwyer said Monday that the officers were "closely confined in a vehicle" and they wore masks "as much as they could," adding that certain situations required that the officers remove the facial coverings.
Fouts did not give a total number of city employees infected Monday, but said five to seven employees in city hall had symptoms or had tested positive for the virus.
He added that roughly nine people at the district court had also been identified as carrying the virus or displaying symptoms.
According to the Free Press, among those infected is a 50-year-old department head who is now on a ventilator at a local hospital.
The infections come as Michigan, as well as other Midwestern states, have experienced new coronavirus waves. As of Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has recorded more than 223,000 confirmed cases, as well as 7,724 deaths as a result of the virus.
The Detroit News reported Tuesday that Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Tracking the Earth's 'ultimate record of change' Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll Michigan developing electrified road to wirelessly charge EVs, Whitmer says MORE (D) is exploring “next steps” in response to the recent infection surge in the state.
“We’re working very closely with our local departments of public health and the administrators of our hospital systems,” Whitmer said at a news conference Tuesday.
“I would love to have partnership where we can take the politics out of this moment and do everything we can to save lives here in Michigan and mitigate the harm” of the new wave, she added.
This comes after President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE and his allies have aimed attacks at Whitmer over her repeated efforts to impose restrictions on businesses and other activities in the state to limit the spread of the virus.
Last month, the Michigan Supreme Court for the second time ruled against Whitmer’s extension of a state of emergency. Whitmer had requested that the court allow more time for its previous ruling against the extension to be put into effect.
However, the court denied her request, upholding its ruling that neither the state's Emergency Management Act (EMA) from 1976 nor the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) gave Whitmer the right to extend her initial state of emergency order past April 30.
The court added at the time that its “decision leaves open many avenues for the Governor and Legislature to work together to address this challenge” of the COVID-19 pandemic.