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Barry-Eaton District Health Dept. rolls back masking order

Another health department in West Michigan has rolled back COVID restrictions following new provisions in the state budget that threatens to pull funding.
Credit: 13 ON YOUR SIDE

Another health department in West Michigan has rolled back COVID restrictions following new provisions in the state budget that threatens to pull funding from counties that keep them in place.

Barry-Eaton District Health Department's Health Officer Colette Scrimger rescinded two public health orders effective Thursday. Those include face-covering requirements in schools. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the spending plan earlier this week, but said certain provisions about banning mask orders and vaccine mandates are unconstitutional. 

The department was concerned about losing funding.

“We urge our local school districts and other educational settings to continue to implement universal masking policies and follow quarantine best practices. It’s critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 within schools and our communities,” stated Colette Scrimger, Health Officer. “We will continue to evaluate the situation and will consider issuing orders in the future as the question of the constitutionality of Senate Bill 82 and House Bill 4400 becomes clearer and if community conditions necessitate such orders.”

The Berrien County Health Department made a similar decision Wednesday, fearing the loss of nearly $1.5 million of their budget.

Thursday afternoon, the Allegan County Health Department chose to rescind their order requiring masks in kindergarten through sixth grade in Allegan County schools. The health department claimed they risked being fined over $1 million due to Senate Bill 82.

Meanwhile, Kent and Ottawa Counties said they will keep their public health orders in place, including those that mandate masks be worn in schools. 

Both counties say the order will remain in effect until it expires on its own terms.

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