Physicians demand answers on plan viewed as inadequate
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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan physicians said today Republican legislators’ plan to address COVID-19 unveiled Tuesday — eight months after the pandemic began and 14 days prior to a general election — raises more questions than it provides solutions.
“Physicians and health professionals have begged policymakers for the masks, tests and science-based leadership that we need to help us protect people and save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the only comprehensive strategy we’ve seen so far has come from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her public health experts,” said Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare and an emergency physician in west Michigan. “From a medical perspective, we’re concerned about the obvious gaps in the Republicans’ plan that fail to address basic standard work in public health. After dealing with this pandemic for nearly 8 months, Michigan residents and health care workers deserve a plan that includes comprehensive testing and mask mandates to better protect from yet another national wave.”
The physicians asked the following questions of House Republican leadership and encouraged press, policy advocates, and voters to do the same:
- How will the plan address mass mask adoption? Mask mandates are one of the most proven and effective ways to reduce community spread.
- At what threshold does a stay-at-home order activate in counties or statewide?
- What is the plan for mass rapid testing in schools?
- With PPE and testing supplies still a problem in many communities, and cases and hospitalizations on the rise, what appropriation is being made to increase the supply? How will supply chain and allocation be managed?
- Has the House leadership reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey to cease communicating the extremely troubling strategy of achieving “some element of herd immunity” prior to a vaccine?
More than 170 studies across 16 nations and six continents proved that common, simple interventions such as mask wearing and social distancing lower the risk of COVID-19 infections. A separate study on the impact of Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, in place March 23 to June 1, credited the measure for saving tens of thousands of lives. And if 95 percent of Americans wore face masks in public, 33,000 deaths could have been avoided between June and October, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The GOP plan, however, has no mention of masks or social distancing.”
Additionally, the county testing capacity recommended in the Republican plan of 15 tests per 10,000 residents falls far short of what the doctors find sufficient. Currently, Michigan is testing 40-50 people per 10,000 per day for the month of October.
“At every step of the way, House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Republican legislators have obstructed the hard work of implementing science- and evidence-based measures to keep people safer in a pandemic,” said Dr. Farhan Bhatti, CTP Michigan State Lead and a family physician in Lansing. “While the House GOP plan does have some positive components, such as factoring hospital bed capacity and PPE availability, it’s severely lacking in prescriptions for keeping case rates low as well as what intervention strategies would go into place if case rates get too high. As physicians, we’re keenly aware that those who developed this plan 8 months into this pandemic, after spending time suing Gov. Whitmer for her orders that saved lives, have not fully incorporated all public health recommendations.”
For months, many Republicans repeatedly opposed her stay-at-home order and requirements to wear masks — both proven scientific methods to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In recent months, some Michigan Republicans have mocked and ignored the science of COVID-19 safety measures. Sen. Shirkey also suggested Michigan embrace the concept of ‘herd immunity,’ which public health experts warned would needlessly kill more than 30,000 Michiganders.
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/
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Medicare. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 22, 2020
Az Ibrahim, 616-227-1940, firstname.lastname@example.org