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Rep. O’Malley: Sufficient notice, consistent communication needed from Whitmer administration as local emergency managers plan for COVID-19
RELEASE|July 23, 2020
Contact: Jack O'Malley

State Rep. Jack O’Malley today welcomed emergency managers from across Michigan for testimony before the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, stressing they need better communication and more consistency from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.


Grand Traverse County Emergency Manager Gregg Bird and Mackinac County Emergency Manager Mike Kasper stated to the select committee that information on Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders and declarations has come to them only during her press conferences or even after they’ve concluded – with no advance notice. As little as a few hours of advance notice, the county officials said, would streamline and improve local emergency planning.


“Mr. Bird summed it up best by saying in his past experiences prior to COVID-19 in Michigan – which includes 30 years in public safety, 15 years in emergency management and six presidential disaster declarations – communication during emergency situations has always been an inclusive and collaborative effort,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann. “It has to be as we deal with this COVID-19 situation too. There must be uniformity from Gov. Whitmer’s administration as it communicates with emergency management at the local level. While Mr. Bird and Mr. Kasper were getting up to speed on executive orders after the governor’s press conferences were done, we also heard from officials in southeast Michigan who said they are satisfied with the level of communication they are getting. This inconsistency ultimately makes Gov. Whitmer’s orders harder to implement and more confusing for people to understand.”


The emergency managers also shared their thoughts on working with the State Emergency Operations Center as COVID-19 has continued to impact the state. O’Malley was critical of the way the state’s emergency alert system had been used and how it did not come with sufficient notice for emergency managers locally so they could deliver the information to proper channels within counties. Communication deficiencies from the administration also led to counties being in the dark on personal protective equipment availability.


“Mr. Bird said his county had no idea that Michigan-based PPE manufacturers were available for procurement and that he had to go with a hodgepodge of out-of-state sources for it,” O’Malley said. “This lack of communication makes the jobs of those who are working to protect our communities even more difficult. It isn’t just a matter of common courtesy. It’s essential in effective emergency management and preparedness as people look to keep their employees, customers, families and own selves safe.”

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