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Rep Mary Whiteford
Whiteford announces data-driven plan for ‘certainty and hope’ through remainder of pandemic
RELEASE|October 20, 2020

County-level data would drive decision-making in response to virus

State Rep. Mary Whiteford, of Casco Township, today announced House Republicans have unveiled a plan giving the people of Michigan more certainty and control in these challenging times – allowing for data-driven COVID-19 responses that reflect conditions in local communities.

The plan relies on science-based, county-level data to guide decisions to keep people healthy and determine appropriate COVID-19 restrictions.

“This plan is intended to work in partnership with qualified members of our state’s medical community to shape the best COVID-19 responses for Michigan. We acknowledge that response must vary from place to place as the prevalence of the virus and other local conditions vary as well,” said Whiteford, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. “This approach aligns with the professional advice we’ve heard from local health experts about the importance of local strategies to protect both lives and livelihoods of seniors, workers, parents, students and families across our state.”

Republican lawmakers hosted a work group to develop refinements to existing plans after the recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling striking down Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders as unconstitutional. The plan builds upon themes first championed by House Republicans in April.

“I am thrilled that the people of our communities could have a voice in determining the COVID-19 responses in place in their own hometowns,” said Whiteford, a registered nurse. “When a decision is made, the people won’t be left in the dark about the reason behind it. Michigan is now on the path to a safe, sensible and improved future as we continue to mitigate the virus.”

When the data supports it, local public health experts will have the option to modify their COVID-19 policies at the county-level – potentially loosening state limits on gathering sizes, restaurant capacity and other measures that would remain in place in other counties. Health thresholds allowing local decision-making would be based on five clear scientific metrics:

  • Case rate. The number of confirmed community spread cases over a 14-day period is below 55 cases per 1 million people.
  • Positivity rate. The rate of positive tests related to community spread over a 14-day period must be below 5 percent.
  • Surge and hospital capacity. Hospitals must be able to handle a 20 percent surge in admissions or patient transfers, and they must be below a 25 percent hospitalization increase in the previous 14 days.
  • Sufficient PPE supply. Local health facilities must have at least a two-week supply of personal protective equipment on hand.
  • Ability to test for COVID-19. Counties must be able to test 15 people per 10,000 residents per day, and turn around test results in three days or less.

If the data indicates a county has risen above these COVID metrics, intervention strategies would immediately go into effect.

Whiteford said she knows that the people of Michigan expect and deserve the governor and the Legislature to work together in a bipartisan effort to address COVID-19, which is why she supports this plan.

The plan was put together by looking to best practices in other states in consultation with Michigan medical and science professionals, including professionals who joined members to express support for the goals of the proposal and a willingness to work together on further refinements as it moves through the legislative process.  Among those in attendance were Brian Long, President/CEO of Memorial Healthcare in Owosso, and Dr. Justin Grill, Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Health Muskegon.

House Republicans first discussed a regional framework in April to more accurately reflect COVID-19 conditions within individual locations. The approach has worked with the ‘Return to Learn’ plan empowering local schools to make the decisions most appropriate for their communities based upon county data.

“One-size-fits-all mandates leave people hopeless and confused,” Whiteford said. “This plan gives us all something to work together toward. We will get past this difficult time. There are brighter days ahead.”

To view the plan in its entirety, visit the Michigan House GOP website.  

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