Rep. Wakeman: A regional, safety-based approach to reopen Michigan’s economy needed

Categories: News,Wakeman News

State Rep. Rodney Wakeman, of Saginaw Township, today said he supports a regional, safety-focused approach to restarting Michigan’s economy and re-establishing a semblance of normalcy in the COVID-19 era.

House Republicans today unveiled a blueprint to help move the state toward a rolling restart — an approach based on the prevalence and risk factors of the virus, which varies by region. A task force would be established to determine which counties could have some COVID-19 restrictions eased more quickly, getting more people back to work and more facets of everyday life – when it’s safe.

“Across Michigan, the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every one of our households in some fashion,” Wakeman said. “This virus is not only responsible for taking lives, it’s also taking livelihoods. The health and safety of Saginaw County families will always be my top priority. This very notion is why I supported the extension of Michigan’s state of emergency through April 30 and continue to view the general concept of the governor’s stay-home order favorably.

“While I appreciate the governor’s efforts to keep Michiganders healthy and safe, there are components to her stay-home order that need to be addressed as the curve continues to flatten and cases drop in certain regions of our state. Eventually, Michigan will have to open, and the most recent data shows we should begin crafting that plan now. Michigan is too diverse to continue managing COVID-19 with a one-size-fits all approach – there is a stark contrast in case numbers county to county. We need to move toward a safe restart. That means working closely with the governor’s administration on a regional approach that prioritizes public health first and hones in on Michigan workers and job providers in low-risk sectors that can return to work safely and sooner.”

A task force – including representatives from Gov. Whitmer’s administration, the Legislature and outside groups – would place counties into one of three tiers based on coronavirus activity and other factors such as hospitalization rates and capacity. Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, which represents approximately 80 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state, would be in the tier with strictest restrictions. Other counties would be placed in tiers with fewer restrictions.

The same task force would help determine which jobs and activities could be resumed safely, starting from the premise of federal CISA guidelines, which in some cases are not as restrictive as the prohibitions now in place in Michigan. The task force would make frequent recommendations to the governor to reflect changes in coronavirus activity.

“This isn’t a plan that replaces the governor’s executive orders,” Wakeman said. “It’s simply an invitation for bipartisanship that I hope our governor takes to help establish the best way forward for Saginaw County families and residents across the state. Michigan families are looking for answers on what’s next, and they deserve the peace of mind knowing their elected officials are putting politics aside and working together to reopen Michigan. We need to focus on what can be done safely without compromising public health, and this is a great first step.”