COVID-19

Governor: No money lost over mask mandates

The governor is assuring local governments that they won't lose funding because of their mask policies.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is working to reassure local and regional health departments they will not lose state funding if they have a mask mandate for schools in their areas.

That comes after several health departments rescinded their mask mandates amid confusion over language included in the state budget signed by the governor on Wednesday.

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The language in question promised to cut funding for health departments that issue mask mandates for people under age 18. Whitmer said such rules were “unenforceable” and “unconstitutional.”

But that wasn’t good enough for health departments in places like Allegan County. It announced Thursday that is was repealing its mask mandate effective immediately.

“The decision to rescind the K-6 Mask Requirement was not made lightly and has challenged us ethically, professionally, and personally,” said Health Officer Angelique Joynes in a statement.

For her part, Whitmer said a letter she issued with the new budget should reinforce her stance on local mask mandates.

“You’ve read the letter. You’ve quoted the letter. The letter speaks for itself,” she said. “We’ve consistently said I’m not going to let anyone get in the way of locals making determinations to keep people safe.”

Kalamazoo County has not rescinded its mask mandate so far. But county commissioners are set to debate the order at their meeting next Tuesday.

[Bridge Michigan, Michigan Radio]

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