‘Changes need to be made soon before it’s too late,’ Michigan House Speaker tells Gov. Whitmer

MLive.com – Michigan’s speaker of the House of Representatives is calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to revise the state’s current stay-at-home order in a letter that offers three actions she can take to help reopen the state.

Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, sent the letter to Whitmer’s office Saturday, April 18, suggesting how the order, which has closed non-essential businesses in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, can be improved so workers can get back on the job, while still keeping people safe.

“Though we disagree with many aspects of your recent orders, we still appreciate your service to our state and you performing your duties the best that you can,” Chatfield wrote. “We do, however, believe that several changes need to be made soon before it’s too late.

“With thousands of Michigan families suffering, unemployment skyrocketing and uncertainty in every county, we know that government can do better. And the people of our state deserve that.”

The letter comes days after thousands of protesters converged on Lansing, blocking streets with their vehicles and calling for an end to the stay at home order, which some have criticized as being too extreme in closing garden centers and prohibiting activities like motorized boating.

Chatfield, noting that a more comprehensive plan from House republicans will be sent to her soon, suggests Whitmer amend the order to adopt the most updated federal guidance for essential services, redefine “essential and non-essential” to “safe and unsafe” activities and adopt a regional risk-based scientific and medical approach to any future stay-at-home restrictions.

Amending the current stay order this way would permit essential services like construction and construction-related supply chains, realtors, certain seasonal lawn care services, forest products, garden materials, as well as health services like optometry and chiropractic care to continue, Chatfield wrote.

Redefining “essential and non-essential” to “safe and unsafe” activities is needed as many jobs and activities currently banned under the current policy can now be done safely by following strict social distancing guidelines, Chatfield wrote.

“There is no compelling reason for the state to ignore new best practices and continue to ban people who could be working safely from earning a paycheck,” he wrote.

Adopting a more regional based approach to any future stay-at-home orders would have a less harmful impact on the state as a whole, Chatfield wrote, adding that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which has been collecting COVID-19 data since day one, already utilizes an eight-region trauma system that can be used for the region-based approach.

Whitmer indicated on Friday, April 17, that she plans to roll out more plans next week regarding whether a regional aspect could be considered in reopening Michigan’s economy by the end of the April.

Michigan is under its current stay-at-home order through April 30.

There were 81 new COVID-19 deaths Saturday, April 18, in Michigan, which is down from 134 deaths the previous day. The new cases were at 768 for Saturday, up only slightly from 760 on Friday.

Michigan now has 2,308 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 30,791 cases.

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