Letter: Where is the reward for following Whitmer's strict COVID-19 guidelines?
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's leadership model for the last five months and especially in the summer months has been essentially, "If we all follow these guidelines now, we can have the reward later." She has specifically applied this to school and fall sports, both in her statements to the public and by bringing in coaches from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, and the main guideline that she has emphasized over and over at every news conference every week is wearing a mask.
Nearly every executive order that she's added to her dossier this summer has been tightening every loophole she can think of to ensure that everyone is wearing a mask at all times in all places.
By and large, the people of Michigan have followed the guidelines. Surveys and observational experience have shown that people are wearing the masks even if they don't like it because they care about their fellow citizens and they want to see their kids go back to school, cheer on the maize and blue or the green and white, and have a relatively normal fall.
Yet here we sit, halfway through August, and college sports are toast, high school sports are on their way out the door and half the kids aren't going back to school. While these decisions haven't strictly been made by the governor, she has not set a tone state-wide that leaders should feel free to move forward in these areas. She is doing nearly nothing to change the trajectory of this cancellation of fall normalcy. We held up our end of the bargain, and she isn't holding up hers. Why is this?
If the rationale is that our numbers aren't making it to the ever-changing baseline that the governor's office and MDHHS require, then either the guidelines and mask-wearing don't sufficiently suppress the virus, or too many people actually aren't following the guidelines and that level of behavioral guidelines isn't a viable approach for viral suppression. Either way, if the policies of the last five months still haven't gotten us to a sufficient metric for reopening in the eyes of the governor's office, then one must question if those policies are truly effective or if the metrics are reasonable.
If Whitmer wants to be viewed as a success in her management of the coronavirus pandemic, she needs to be willing to declare victory, move the rest of the state to phase 5 at the least, allow indoor recreation to open state-wide and use her platform to encourage schools to open in-person, and high school and college sports to resume their fall seasons.
Otherwise, what was the point of all that hard work? We still have all the restrictions, we're still doing the hard work and we aren't getting any of the reward. This is especially jarring when one notes that we are among a scant few states that are still enduring this level of restrictions. It is unfair and poor leadership for Whitmer to expect her constituents to continue putting in the hard work indefinitely when she and her office show little to no interest in moving the state into normalcy.
It's time for her messaging to change to "We followed the guidelines. Now we will protect our elderly and high-risk, and the rest of the state can move forward".
Jessica Van Dyke, Portage
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