As Michigan hospitals reach capacity, restaurants rebel against coronavirus orders and remain open

FILE PHOTO: An employee routinely sanitizes server trays at a reopened restaurant after restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are eased in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S., June 8, 2020.  REUTERS/Emily Elconin/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Restaurants reopen in Michigan

Some restaurants in Michigan are refusing to abide by state-mandated measures to quell the spread of the coronavirus, claiming the virus is over-politicized and the science untrustworthy, the Washington Post reported. 

“I don’t think it’s as bad as they’re saying it is,” David Koloski owner of the Sunrise Family Diner told the Post. “The whole thing with the coronavirus is political. I think Democrats are dug in and unwilling to move on this.”

The state is currently on lockdown, but last week Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that restaurants can reopen at 25% capacity on February 1. 

Stand Up Michigan, a group of business owners who have held protests against COVID-19 restrictions, has been keeping a running list of restaurants that are defying the order to close indoor dining. Right now there are more than 60 restaurants in 33 counties defying the order.

For weeks, restaurants like the Sunrise Family Diner have remained open for indoor dining with limited enforcement of mask use or social distancing, in part because law-enforcement officials support them and some residents are willing to drive long hours just to publicize their rebuke of Whitmer, the Post reported. 

Koloski told the Post that he simply can’t afford to do takeout-only orders. 

“If we didn’t open, we would have shuttered. Doors closed. Out of a house, out of a job, out of a car. Me and the rest of my staff,” Koloski said. 

He added: “I’m not holding a gun to anybody’s head and making them come here.”

While the state has seen a decrease in cases, 17 of the state’s hospitals are at 90% capacity. 

Read more: Coronavirus variants threaten to upend pandemic progress. Here’s how 4 top vaccine makers are fighting back.

Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital has had several ICU expansions, the Post reported. The facility normally has five to 10 free ICU beds, but 30 to 40 people who need them.

“You see that and you know that there’s a percentage of these folks, once they get COVID, some of them will die. And it doesn’t have to be that way,” Sparrow president Alan Vierling told the Post. “This isn’t like getting leukemia, where you can do everything right and get leukemia and die. With this, you have a choice.”

The overload of patients has meant that Vierling has to have an additional 90 travel nurses who work 12-hour shifts, five days a week. 

Last week, the state recorded 12,535 new cases and 487 deaths compared to 16,452 new cases and 430 deaths the week before, the Detroit News reported. On Saturday, the state had 1,358 new cases. 

Two months after the lockdown was enacted in November, health department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin told the Post that cases per million people decreased by 70%. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lawmakers in Michigan voted to limit powers of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state health department to curb the pandemic

Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is pictured on October 16, 2020.

  • The Michigan House of Representatives on Friday voted to repeal a 1945 law that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used at the outset of the pandemic to force businesses to close to stem the spread of COVID-19, the Detroit Free Press reported.
  • Whitmer, a Democrat in office since 2019, has been the target of numerous protests, including a foiled plot to kidnap her, from right-wing groups over her efforts to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. 
  • On Thursday, the House also voted to limit the power of the state department of health to impose emergency orders.
  • It’s not likely that Whitmer will sign the bills, and the House and Senate do not have the votes to override her vetoes, according to the report.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Michigan House of Representatives this week voted to pass two bills aimed at limiting the governor and the state health department’s powers to issue regulations and restrictions during a crisis, a response to their actions to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the spring. 

According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, the House of Representatives voted Friday 57-43 to repeal a 1945 emergency powers law and on Thursday 59-44 to limit the length of emergency orders from the state department of health to 28 days unless the orders were approved by the state legislature. The second bill would also prevent leaders from placing pandemic-related restrictions on religious services, according to the report. 

The 1945 law, passed toward the end of World War II, affords the Michigan governor the opportunity to declare a state of emergency and make “reasonable orders, rules, and regulations as he or she considers necessary to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation within the affected area under control.”

The Senate in April similarly voted to repeal the 1945 law, according to the report. While the Senate also previously passed a bill to limit the length of health department order, its version of the legislation had not included the provision to exempt religious services from the restrictions, according to the report.

In October, the Michigan Supreme Court sided with Republicans who challenged Whitmer’s authority to make such orders, ruling in a 4-3 decision that the 1945 law was unconstitutional because it shifted power too greatly from the state’s legislative branch to its executive branch. Whitmer and her allies have argued that the restrictions and regulations she implemented were necessary public health measures.

“If we, as a state, were willing to just mask up like every other civilized nation on this planet, perhaps the death count would be lower and perhaps we wouldn’t have needed as many executive orders. But unfortunately, that didn’t happen,” said Yousef Rabhi, the Democratic floor leader, in support of Whitmer’s use of the legislation. 

Since the state Supreme Court ruling, Whitmer has taken similar measures through orders issued by the state health department, which was not affected by the court’s ruling in October, according to the report.

Whitmer and her orders have been at the subject of numerous protests from right-wing politicians and groups. Most notably, in April, hundreds of protesters descended on the Michigan State Capitol, some carrying rifles and other weapons, in protest of Whitmer extending her stay-at-home order into the middle of May.

Whitmer has also been targeted by President Donald Trump and his supporters, who in October chanted “lock her up” at her mention, just a week after the FBI announced it had foiled a right-wing militia group’s attempt to kidnap her.

As the Detroit Free Press reported, it’s not likely that Whitmer will sign either piece of legislation, and the House and Senate do not have enough votes to override a veto of either bill.

Read the original article on Business Insider