LANSING, Mich. — The Committee to Protect Medicare today reprimanded Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield for attending a crowded Trump rally yesterday without wearing a mask even as COVID-19 cases surge across the state of Michigan. Chatfield was photographed standing at the Lansing rally less than 6 feet away from others, who were also maskless.
“As hospitals in West Michigan reach capacity, a situation which jeopardizes care for those with COVID-19 and other emergent health issues, it is beyond frustrating to see Speaker Chatfield not only attending a potential super-spreader event, but refusing to social-distance and wear a mask,” said Dr. Rob Davidson, MD, emergency physician in west Michigan and Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. “This photo is a symbol of the Michigan GOP’s refusal to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic. For over eight months, Michigan Republicans have fought Governor Whitmer’s emergency actions, which saved countless lives. Instead, all Speaker Chatfield and his caucus produced is a COVID-19 ‘plan,’ released days before an election, that fails to address basic standard work in public health.”
“Donald Trump held a rally just four miles away from my clinic. People were there without masks, not social-distancing, including the Speaker of the House of Michigan, Lee Chatfield. He was there, not wearing a mask, standing next to people who also weren’t. He was grinning from ear-to-ear. He was having a great time,” said CTP Michigan State Lead Farhan Bhatti, MD, in a video posted to Twitter following President Trump’s rally. “Well let me tell you this: I’m not having a great time, because yesterday I had to close my clinic because one of my staff members tested positive for COVID-19. How can we expect Michiganders to take this pandemic seriously when Republican elected officials themselves refuse to take this seriously, and refuse to model good behavior. What’s going to happen is their supporters are going to follow their lead. They’re going to go out in public without masks. They’re going to contract COVID. They’re going to spread it to others. More people are going to get sick, and more people are going to die because of their reckless behavior.”
Chatfield’s refusal to follow CDC guidelines is just one of many instances of Republican legislators failing to lead on COVID-19 both in terms of policy and their personal behavior. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has suggested Michigan embrace the concept of ‘herd immunity,’ which public health experts warned would needlessly kill more than 30,000 Michiganders.
Rep. Ryan Berman, who currently represents the 39th House District, has supported pushing students back to in-person learning even if conditions put children, teachers and staff at risk. Berman also has expressed opposition to mask wearing and has been pictured without one with others who wore a mask.
Rep. Pauline Wendzel in HD 79 has publicly attacked Governor Whitmer’s life-saving executive orders surrounding COVID-19, including her order to ensure that migrant workers, many of whom tend to farms in Berrien County, are tested to stay safe from the virus.
A Republican running for state rep in the 104th House District, John Roth, supported a petition campaign to end a governor’s executive authority during a public health emergency. That petition campaign has been rife with controversy, including eyewitness accounts of petition gatherers lying to people to get them to sign the petition.
Because of the dangerous stances and actions taken by Berman, Wendzel, and Roth, physicians with the Committee to Protect Medicare have endorsed their opponents: Julia Pulver, RN, in Michigan’s 39th House District, Chokwe Pitchford in Michigan’s 79th, and Dan O’Neil in the 104th.
Dr. Rob Davidson says: “Julia, Dan, and Chokwe will stand up to the dangerous partisanship that has led the Trump Administration and its allies in the Michigan Legislature to deceive the American public during a global pandemic that has killed over 225,000 people, including more than 7,500 here in Michigan who needlessly lost their lives. The Committee to Protect Medicare believes Julia, Dan, and Chokwe will make policy decisions based on science, data and medical evidence, which will protect Michiganders and save lives.”
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: http://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: Wednesday, October 28, 2020
CONTACT: Annika Doner, 313-670-4737, firstname.lastname@example.org