Detroit Free Press
Published 7:46 a.m. ET March 25, 2020
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LANSING — State Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is going too far by issuing an executive order mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses in Michigan.
Whitmer’s decision is being made in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus.
There are over 1,300 cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, and 15 people are confirmed have died from the disease. There are still no confirmed cases in Ionia County.
The order prohibits businesses from calling employees into work, except for employees “necessary to sustain and protect life.” It lasts from 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24 to at least April 13.
But Albert believes despite the risks associated with the virus, such as the potential overburdening of the state’s health systems, Whitmer is putting the state’s economy at risk. He added he has questions about whether or not the executive order is constitutional.
“The governor’s order is an overreaction,” Albert said. “While I acknowledge we are largely in uncharted territory, the governor’s continued use of executive orders raises constitutional questions.”
“Can the governor point to the executive authority allowing the suspension of constitutional rights in a time of emergency? This can and must be part of the public discussion when balancing our state’s public health needs with constitutional rights and economic needs of Michigan residents and their families.”
Whitmer became the seventh governor in the U.S. to call for a shelter in place order of some kind. Governors in Ohio, Louisiana, New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey have issued lockdown orders.
Whitmer also said if aggressive social distancing measures were not put in place, 70 percent of Michigan’s population would be at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Albert said he agrees Michiganders should distance themselves from another, but believes shutting down many businesses will have wide-ranging economic consequences.
“This response, while likely effective at slowing the spread of coronavirus, is monumentally disruptive to Michigan families and threatening to destroy their livelihoods,” Albert said.
“Already, Michigan residents are flooding the state with new unemployment claims – and that was before this ‘stay at home’ order was issued. The governor’s latest order will cause the jobless rate to soar, and only make things worse for Michigan workers trying to provide for their families.
“I fully agree people should take precautions such as social distancing and working from home when possible during these unprecedented times. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions, in particular, should voluntarily be taking steps to isolate and protect themselves. But that can be done without placing the entire state of Michigan in a virtual lockdown, as the governor has ordered.
“Rather than worsening this government-mandated economic depression-in-the-making, we should be looking for ways to keep as much of the economy open for business as possible. This includes proactive measures to allow the reopening of businesses and schools once the governor’s original executive orders expire.”
Contact reporter Arpan Lobo at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ArpanLobo.
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