Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Chair Matt Hall, of Marshall, today issued the following statement after hearing testimony from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon. Gordon spoke on recent wide-ranging health orders that have been issued in response to COVID-19 – including temporarily closing indoor dining services and suspending in-person instruction at high schools and colleges – and what went into those decisions:
“When asked by our committee, Director Gordon established that he doesn’t have the same authority to do what Gov. Whitmer did under her ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ orders. But he was not clear on his actual limitations. This information is important as people whose livelihoods hang in the balance attempt to understand the decision-making from Gov. Whitmer’s administration.
“We have heard from people we represent who are struggling with depression from this pandemic and shutdowns that have been issued in response. We have heard from people about upticks in suicide, drug abuse and mental health issues. But Director Gordon, who is charged with issuing these orders, could not produce suicide data for the state when asked by a committee member. For the metrics that he says are being used to address this crisis and save lives – trends in COVID-19 cases, trends in case positivity, hospital capacity and others – to not have suicide statistics readily available raises concerns that mental health isn’t being given ample weight.
“With the current order set to expire in a few days, we wanted to convey to Director Gordon what we have been hearing from people we represent – including people who once again have had to close the doors on their family business, workers who are once again without paychecks that will help them pay bills and put food on the table, and parents who feel their kids are not developing and learning properly outside of a classroom setting. Director Gordon said that these impacted businesses could not operate safely. The Whitmer administration just said we know best based on what we are looking at and went directly to a shutdown via health order.
“Because people in communities throughout the state are struggling and these decisions are affecting their livelihoods, we need to get answers on what the plans are for Gov. Whitmer’s administration going forward and what the limits are on Director Gordon’s powers.”
“DTE’s $368 million electric rate increase on Michigan residents and job providers is nothing compared to what’s coming down the pipeline next. The utilities will collect a windfall under Democrats’ energy mandates that became law this week.”
“The population council’s current proposal isn’t even a real plan and has no strategy to grow our population,” Hall said. “It’s just a long wish list for new revenues — tax hikes on Michiganders.”
“Michiganders want their leaders to work together to make our state safe and successful,” Hall said. “The balance of power in the House of Representatives is a call to bipartisanship, and Michigan legislators on both sides of the aisle should answer the call and find common ground.”