By Shirley

It is November! The leaves in the trees have changed and have started to fall, and temperatures have started to dip. Around Michigan, November usually signals the season for apples, apple cider, pumpkins, pumpkin pie, cranberries, turkey and the beginning of the Holiday Season.

This year has been different. The fall has signaled an acceleration and worsening of the coronavirus with cases in the USA reaching 100,000 per day, at the time of this writing. Here in Michigan, cases have been on the rise in every county.

The weather, flu season, stress on the eve of the elections and the refusal of many Americans to wear a mask and practice social distancing has made worse a situation that was very difficult to begin with. With no relief in sight, I feel strongly that our IN members should be made aware of the position in which the state of Michigan finds itself.

Many of our members, coming from different countries and different cultures, might not be aware of who should guide us through this pandemic. As we have learned in the past few months, it has become up to the state and local (city) governments to guide the population. Unfortunately, since the Spring shutdown in Michigan, litigation has hampered the powers of Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer to act freely on orders to stop the spread of the Covid-19. This means that, at the moment, it is the job of the Michigan Department of Health and Human services (MDHHS) to “exercise authority and promulgate rules to safeguard properly the public health; to prevent the spread of diseases and the existence of sources of contamination; and to carry out the powers and duties vested by law in the department.”

As of October 29, we are under a “Gatherings and Face Mask Order”, in which the MDHHS limits and restricts residential and non-residential gatherings and makes the use of face mask obligatory in public spaces.

You can learn more about the order here: https://www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus

Also check the website periodically for new orders and guidance.

With the start of the Holiday Season, be aware that people living in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, in general, are pretty good at following health orders. If you are travelling or visiting other locations, on the other hand, you might be faced with individuals who are not as willing to follow Michigan health guidance. If you are travelling outside Michigan, familiarize yourself with that state’s health recommendation that might be different from the ones in Michigan.

I highly recommend all IN members, Neighbors and Newcomers alike, to rethink the Holidays and use creativity to come up with alternative ways and solutions for healthy and safe festivities.

Happy Thanksgiving!