LANSING, Mich. – Michigan doctors with the Committee to Protect Medicare praised Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for standing firm on her COVID-19 strategy of social distancing and other safeguards as she slowly reopens the economy, despite a protest linked to militia groups planned for today. The protest is at least the third major gathering of people, many carrying firearms and hate-filled signs, who want to immediately open the economy, regardless of the health risks.
“Every public health expert, using science, data and best practices, has warned that if we reopen our economy prematurely without a plan to test, trace and isolate COVID-19 infections, then we risk more outbreaks and more suffering,” said Farhan Bhatti, MD, CEO of Care Free Medical in Lansing and Michigan lead for the Committee to Protect Medicare. “All of us empathize with families who have lost jobs and face economic suffering from COVID-19 related closures. What we must not do is allow fringe, extremist groups and corporate interests to rush Michigan to reopen or misuse junk science to fool people into a false sense of security. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has withstood tremendous pressure from these special interests, and she deserves recognition for using science to determine Michigan’s public health response to a pandemic that has taken the lives of thousands of our fellow Michiganders.”
Two earlier protests at Michigan’s Capitol building included armed individuals storming the building and intimidating legislators. The protests against Gov. Whitmer’s “Stay home, stay safe” shelter-in-place order have been linked to right-wing, conservative and white supremacist groups. The protests represent a minority view in Michigan, with a majority of Michiganders approving of Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the first protest at Michigan’s Capitol on April 17, medical professionals such as Bhatti raised fears that infections could spread from the gathering of people, many of them unmasked, openly defying social distancing rules to reduce COVID-19 infections and standing close to each other. Following that protest, data gathered from cell phones in and around the Capitol during the protest showed that more than 300 people then traveled to smaller communities in west and northern Michigan, which are starting to see increases in COVID-19 infections and which are less equipped to handle patient surges.
Bhatti also warned Michiganders not to develop a false sense of security as more privately produced tests flood the market, including much-touted antibody tests. Many of them have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration or rushed through despite being unreliable.
“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer deserves credit for standing firm on social distancing and slowly reopening Michigan’s economy based on what public health experts tell her,” said Rob Davidson, MD, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare and an emergency physician in west Michigan. “Together, we are flattening the curve, reducing infections and saving lives. What we must continue to do is keep our distance, wear masks in public and demand robust, reliable nationwide testing — not untested procedures that put lives at risk. Rushing to reopen Michigan’s economy now when so many people have sacrificed so much threatens to unleash another outbreak and delay our economic recovery.”
About the Committee to Protect Medicare
The Committee to Protect Medicare is an advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors engaging in direct advocacy and communications in support of a stronger healthcare system in America. To learn more: https://committeetoprotect.org/
CONTACT: Az Ibrahim, 616-227-1940, firstname.lastname@example.org