Michigan Republicans detail new plan to manage COVID-19 restrictions

Republican State Rep. Ben Frederick was an architect of the party's new plan to manage COVID-19...
Republican State Rep. Ben Frederick was an architect of the party's new plan to manage COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan.(source: Michigan House Republicans)
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 12:56 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan’s coronavirus restrictions would be managed on a county-by-county basis using data from their local communities under a new plan from Republicans unveiled Tuesday.

The plan would use scientific data to guide decisions for county-specific restrictions based on levels of COVID-19 activity, testing capacity and hospitals' ability to treat patients.

“This is a data-driven plan that will work in partnership with the medical community to shape the best COVID-19 responses for Michigan. Those responses may vary from place to place as the prevalence of the virus and other local conditions may vary,” said Republican State Rep. Ben Frederick of Owosso, who was a lead architect of the plan.

Republicans began working on a COVID-19 strategy after the Michigan Supreme Court struck down many of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus orders on Oct. 2 by ruling the law she used to issue them is unconstitutional. Frederick said local health officials around the state have asked for more community-based strategies to battle coronavirus.

The Republican plan would allow local health departments to adjust COVID-19 restrictions if the following five data points are met:

  • Community spread of coronavirus is below 55 cases per 1 million people for 14 days.
  • The rate of positive coronavirus diagnostic tests remains below 5% for 14 days.
  • Hospitals in the area can handle a 20% surge in admissions or transfers and the patient count hasn’t increased by 25% in the previous 14 days.
  • Health facilities have at least a two-week supply of personal protective equipment on hand.
  • Counties can test 15 people per 10,000 residents every day with results back in three days or less.

Intervention strategies would take effect at a county level if any of the five standards are not met. Health departments could consider loosening restrictions if all five standards are met.

Whitmer’s administration has continued with statewide face covering requirements and gathering limits under orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services after her earlier orders were struck down. The department is basing new orders similar to Whitmer’s on a 1978 law unaffected by the Michigan Supreme Court ruling.

All of the statewide orders from the health department remain in effect. The process for potentially enacting the new Republican plan was not outlined at Tuesday’s announcement.

Republicans leaders have said they remain willing to collaborate with Whitmer’s administration on Michigan’s coronavirus response after criticizing her unilateral approach to setting and removing restrictions.

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