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Michigan lawmakers weigh in on next steps to mitigate spread of the virus

Posted at 11:31 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 23:31:38-05

LANSING (WXYZ) — Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are weighing in on what the next steps are to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our state after officials reported more than 6,000 new cases on Thursday.

Everyone wants to slow the spread of the virus, especially our elected officials. But ever since the Michigan Supreme Court stripped Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of her powers, the question has been: what’s next and what is the legislature going to do?

"It’s important that we continue to have a path that would bring clarity and certainty as we move into the next stages," said State Rep. Ben Frederick.

The state representative is behind the Republican plan to manage COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan in what he calls a mid- to long-term plan.

"This would allow there to be a path for counties based on their local data to modify some of the DHHS' orders that are currently in place," Frederick said.

State Republican lawmakers fought with Gov. Whitmer over her emergency powers since April. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 2 that the governor didn’t have authority to continue declaring states of emergency and issue unilateral orders past April 30, calling it unconstitutional. The Supreme Court then ruled on Oct. 12 that Whitmer's emergency powers must be stripped immediately.

"With the governors ongoing response was the lack of clarity on bench marks, what happens next, why?" Frederick said. "It led to a great deal of uncertainty and people kind of tuning out, if you will."

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The plan would use scientific data for health officials in each county to issue specific restrictions based on levels of COVID-19, testing capacity and hospitals ability to treat patients.

"I don’t really consider it much of a plan, it’s more kind of a kick in the can to local municipalities," said State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo.

Democrats say the Republican plan needs more clarity and there's a lot more to work out.

"Simply having a county specific plan that would allow local county officials to make decisions would not ensure provisions for PPE, hospital capacity, it’s really not a plan so there’s a lot of holes in it," Gay-Dagnogo said.

One thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on is they need to come together to get this virus under control.

"Let’s be really sensible here," Gay-Dagnogo said. "Let’s make sure we are working together and compromise for the good of all Michigan citizens."

Frederick adding, "We have had some feedback from health care and public health on how we can make the policy better and we certainly do want it to be a bi-partisan approach throughout."

Right now, the Republican plan is going through the health policy committee. If approved it would then go through the legislative process.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.