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Michigan infrastructure industry calls on Gov. Whitmer to declare construction operations ‘non-essential’ amid coronavirus outbreak

MITA hopes to slow the spread of COVID-19, save equipment for hospitals

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(WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) called on Michigan Gov. Whitmer on Friday to declare construction operations as non-essential so workers can stay home amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“While the lack of traffic and an already mild spring may feel like an opportune time, we believe it is important to protect construction employees by putting their personal health, safety and wellbeing first,” said MITA Executive Vice President Mike Nystrom. “The infrastructure industry must do our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help reduce the pressures on the medical and service professionals working hard on the front lines dealing with the worst of this crisis.”

RELATED: Michigan ‘stay-at-home’ order: Here’s who’s considered ‘critical infrastructure workers’

MITA says that in addition to potentially spreading COVID-19 further by continuing industry operations, employees will continue to drain the already-limited supply of personal protective equipment. Construction employees use N-95 masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, which hospitals and medical centers are facing shortages of due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The MITA Board of Directors passed a resolution to protect the health and safety of frontline employees, which includes all construction employees and not just public works employees, officials said.

MITA officials say they understand some construction projects may be considered critical. MITA offered to work with Whitmer to determine critical projects and close down other projects in a timely manner, officials said.

The organization is also attempting to protect contractors, ensuring they won’t face damages or penalties for being socially responsible, according to officials.

“We are hopeful the Governor will direct all agencies to recognize the industry’s contractual rights during this difficult time, and be flexible with schedules as we maneuver through these unprecedented challenges,” Nystrom said. “While a difficult decision, this action will protect employees, their loved ones, and everyone else trying to avoid the virus. Doing our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 now will ultimately help us move the state forward faster when the time comes.”

MITA officials expressed their members’ support of Whitmer’s stay at home order for non-essential workers during this crisis.

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