Michigan GOP lawmakers propose new COVID-19 response plan

Proposal aims to give control to county officials

Michigan GOP lawmakers propose new COVID-19 response plan

LANSING, Mich. – With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 emergency orders struck down by the Michigan Supreme Court, GOP lawmakers are stepping in and offering their own potential response plan.

Much like Whitmer’s response, lawmakers say theirs also relies on data -- but there is one key difference.

The new proposal aims to give county officials control over how they want to handle procedures, instead of establishing procedures based on identified regions.

“Since COVID-19 was first identified in Michigan, not a day has gone by that I haven’t heard from someone in my community who is concerned about the pandemic and the way our state’s response is affecting their family life,” said Rep. Sarah Lightner (MI-65).

Michigan House Republicans are revealing their new plans in hopes of easing that strain. The lawmakers suggest changing the COVID-19 response plans from what they believe to be a “one size fits all” model, and instead are using specific data to address the virus county by county.

“We set out to make a plan that is based on science and data. We used public health experts and doctors to formulate a plan that works for Michigan,” said Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (MI-91).

Overall, the lawmakers’ goal is to outline COVID-19 precautions that reflect the conditions of specific local environments.

Legislators are proposing that health officials will also have the option to follow the methods best suited for their area, including limitations on gathering sizes and restaurant capacities. Under the new plan, officials say local residents and small businesses would have more of a say in what’s being done to address COVID-19 in their area.

“I’ve talked with many people who simply want clarification about decisions that are being made based on the data. The people we serve deserve better. They deserve to have a voice in determining the COVID-19 responses that are in place in their own communities,” Lightner said.

The lawmakers said they are open to a bipartisan partnership on the plan. The Governor’s Office said that Whitmer plans to review the proposal and will make a decision regarding her support, or lack thereof, in the future.

The proposed plan does not affect any orders or coronavirus prevention measures currently in place, and will have no impact unless it becomes a bill and is approved.

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.