Hospital association CEO: Michiganders who don’t believe in COVID-19 protocols aren’t going to follow them

Brian Peters says Michigan needs to create culture in which people believe in science of COVID-19 prevention

Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Heath and Hospital Association, during a Nov. 12, 2020, COVID-19 panel discussion among state health leaders. (WDIV)

The head of the hospital association in Michigan said one of the main problems with the spread of COVID-19 statewide is that people aren’t convinced certain safety measures are necessarily, so they aren’t going to follow them.

Brian Peters, the CEO of the Michigan Heath and Hospital Association, joined top hospital officials Thursday for a virtual discussion about the state of Michigan’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the 68-minute discussion, Peters and the CEOS and presidents from Henry Ford Health System, Beaumont Health, Spectrum Health and Munson Health stressed the importance of wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently and avoiding large gatherings.

Yet Michigan is still seeing its largest spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with case totals and test positivity rates rising statewide.

“Regardless of what the law says, if people aren’t convinced that doing something is the right thing, then they’re not going to do it when no one is watching," Peters said.

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He compared COVID-19 protocols to wearing seat belts on the road, saying people won’t follow rules unless they genuinely believe they are saving lives.

“I think we’ve gotten to that place, culturally,” he said, referring to seat belt use. “We need to get to a place culturally here in Michigan where people understand the science and believe in the science that masking and social distancing works.”

Wright Lassiter, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, said while mask usage is common in many places, there are pockets throughout Michigan where people don’t follow the protocols.

He and Beaumont Health president and CEO John Fox both said visitors have even resisted simple COVID-19 safety measures while physically inside hospitals.

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Lassiter said 40% or more of people who are positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic, so the virus can spread from someone who seems completely healthy. That’s why it’s critical for everyone to buy into the guidelines, he said.

“We’re dealing with a virus that, at times, is sort of a silent attacker,” Lassiter said.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.