Michigan Governor Defends Order for Resident Health and Safety

Gov. Whitmer has defended her “stay home” order by saying it prioritizes Michigan’s “health and safety.” Others claim that it’s devastating the state’s economy beyond repair, thereby “ruining our livelihoods.”

(TNS) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended her “stay home” order amid criticism from Republic legislators and small businesses, saying she is prioritizing Michigan’s “health and safety.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake, ripped into Whitmer in a social media post Friday, criticizing the order’s extension as “destroying our health by ruining our livelihoods.” The governor prolonged the order until April 30 in an announcement Thursday, April 9.

“We must continue to have restrictions on social distancing...but there’s room for much-needed common sense," Shirkey said in a phone interview with MLive
. “Businesses are proving that they can walk and chew gum at the same time and are capable of protecting their customers, suppliers and employees.” Her office justified her strict measures by citing continued increases and deaths from COVID-19.

“As of yesterday, the state had over 22,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 1,200 deaths," her office said in a statement to MLive. "Protecting the health and safety of the people of Michigan remains the governor’s number one priority. She has worked closely with Speaker (Lee) Chatfield and Sen. Shirkey throughout this emergency, and will continue to do so. We welcome constructive participation from the legislature, but the priority must be on taking actions to slow the spread of this virus and keep Michiganders safe.”

House Speaker Chatfield, R-Levering, questioned Whitmer’s logic for determining what businesses were deemed essential.

“Non-essential in Michigan: Lawn care, construction, fishing if boating with a motor, realtors, buying seeds, home improvement equipment and gardening supplies,” he said on Twitter. “Essential in Michigan: Marijuana, lottery and alcohol. Let’s be safe and reasonable. Right now, we’re not!”

Large stores that sell gardening supplies, paint, carpeting, flooring and furniture may be forced to close due to increased restrictions, said State Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton.

“Not only did Governor Whitmer not adopt the new federal (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) recommendations, that would allow certain businesses back to work safely, she went even further in restricting Michigan businesses and freedoms,” Hoitenga wrote on Facebook.

Some gardeners and farmers have urged customers to contact Whitmer’s office to loosen business restrictions. Staying inside for this long isn’t safe nor healthy either, said Wedel’s Nursery, Florist and Garden Center, 5020 Texas Drive in Kalamazoo, on Facebook.

“Please help the gardening industry by...sending an email to the governor,” the store wrote. “We don’t feel that it is safe or healthy to be confined - getting in the fresh air is so good for our physical and mental well-being! What could be better for your family than growing your own food?”

Red Bird Farms, 4475 Merwin Road in Lapeer, argued the move hurts Michigan growers and benefits ones from out of state.

“Let Gov, Whitmer know that her ruling is hurting greenhouse growers, (which) letting big box stores sell their plants that mostly come from out of state," the greenhouse grower wrote on Facebook. “We need your help.”

Other pushback comes from a petition to allow motorized boating on Michigan waterways, which has nearly 14,000 signatures.

Any loosening of restrictions, even to help certain industries, will keep the economy suffering for longer than if the preventative measures were not maintained, Whitmer said Thursday.

“Every single exception to the Stay Home, Stay Safe order makes this more porous and less likely to work,” she said.

©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.