Protesters gather outside of Michigan health director’s home, demand state lifts COVID restrictions

MDHHS director Robert Gordon says protests are ‘waste of time,’ state will follow science

FILE - In this April 15, 2020, file photo, two people walk past a closed sign at a retail store in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s health director says that protesters who gathered outside of his Lansing home on Tuesday night to decry the state’s coronavirus restrictions are wasting their time.

Several people gathered outside the home of Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), on Dec. 15 to protest the state’s current COVID restrictions.

On Dec. 7, the MDHHS announced an extension of restrictions put in place in November to help slow the spread of coronavirus amid a surge in virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The restrictions, first announced as a “three-week pause” on Nov. 15, prohibit indoor dining at bars and restaurants, in-person learning at high schools and colleges and more.

Read more: Michigan COVID restrictions in effect through Dec. 20: What to know

Michigan’s extended epidemic order is currently scheduled to expire on Sunday, Dec. 20.

On the night of Dec. 15, a group of protesters stood outside of Gordon’s Lansing home with what appear to bullhorns, noise makers and American flags. In a live, public video posted to Facebook Tuesday, protesters can be heard singing Christmas carols and calling on Gordon to lift the state’s restrictions and reopen businesses.

On Wednesday, the health director wrote that the protesters -- who allegedly scared his children -- are wasting their time, as the MDHHS plans to follow “proven, science-based steps” to address the pandemic.

“This is America, and I believe strongly in Americans’ right to protest. Last night was something different: people came to my home in the dark of night, screaming through bullhorns, scaring my children, and trying to intimidate me. That is wrong, and, in case anyone is wondering, it’s a waste of time,” Gordon wrote in a statement. “We are going to keep following the proven, science-based steps to save lives and get Michigan through this pandemic. I know it’s challenging for everyone, especially for small business owners, but it is what is necessary for us to get to the other side with as many of our loved ones as we can.”

The protest comes as the surge in COVID-19 cases in Michigan begins to slow after weeks of increased virus spread. During a news conference Tuesday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the state’s coronavirus restrictions appear to be working.

“The department issued this order to prevent our hospitals from overwhelming, so that we can protect the brave women and men serving on the front lines of this crisis, so we can protect our small businesses who want to stay open and so we can, of course, slow the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “The good news is that we are making progress. It is working.”

As the pandemic rages on throughout the U.S., Congressional leaders are finally nearing approval of another national aid package to provide some financial relief to citizens and businesses. As many Michiganders and their businesses struggle amid the pandemic and its financial impact, Gov. Whitmer is calling on state lawmakers to extend unemployment benefits and approve a new stimulus plan.

On Wednesday, the state of Michigan reported 4,037 new COVID-19 cases and 83 new deaths since Tuesday. The state has reported a total of 446,752 COVID-19 cases and 11,018 deaths since the pandemic began.

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.