Ottawa County upholds public health orders

General Press Release

September 30, 2021

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Ottawa County upholds public health orders

The current public health orders, including face masks in educational settings, issued by the Ottawa County Health Officer remain in effect until expiring by their own terms.

Last week, the Michigan Legislature passed a budget making specific appropriations to fund the Michigan state government and programs that are run through or by local units of government including Ottawa County.  The Legislature included various “boilerplate” statements not tied to a specific appropriation.  The boilerplate language concerned activities of multiple departments including the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Corrections, Military and Veterans Affairs, Natural Resources, Transportation, and Health and Human Services.

The Legislature chose not to amend the Public Health Code, which authorizes the Ottawa County Health Officer to issue the limited mask mandate orders currently in effect as well as orders for chicken pox, measles or other contagious disease that might come up during the course of the year.

Legally, the Legislature cannot amend the Public Health Code through the appropriations act.  Since it has chosen not to amend the Public Health Code, the appropriations boiler statement has no effect on Ottawa County, its budget, its Public Health Department, or existing public health orders.

A representative of the Governor confirmed that the Governor’s Office reviewed this matter with the Attorney General’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office concurred in the conclusion that the boilerplate was unconstitutional and unenforceable.  As a result, the Governor declared that the boilerplate was unconstitutional and unenforceable. Read the Governor’s written statement.

The Governor’s Office confirmed that appropriations passed by Legislature would be funded, including funding appropriated for local health departments.  The funding would be transmitted to receiving entities in accordance with established schedules for each funding stream.  The first installment of funding for local health departments will be sent as scheduled on October 1, 2021.  This funding is the general funding for health departments and their programs and is not limited to funds connected with the control of the pandemic and COVID-19, but includes vital services such as well and septic inspections and permits, restaurant licensing and inspections, hearing and vision checks, clinic operations, etc.

The current mask mandate issued by the Ottawa County Health Officer remains in effect until it expires by its own terms (60 days after a vaccine is available for those under 12 or the infection rate drops into the “low range”).

The Ottawa County Public Health Department will continue to serve the residents and businesses of Ottawa County through all its programs while continuing to act to protect the community from COVID-19.

Finally, Ottawa County received a second legal opinion from former Republican Attorney General Mike Cox confirming the Ottawa County Corporation Counsel’s legal opinion that the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners does not have the statutory authority to rescind the Public Health Officer’s orders or to terminate the Public Health Officer simply because she issued an order.  A copy of the legal opinion from the Mike Cox law firm can be found online at