LASATA: Michigan needs a plan to navigate out of emergency

Published 9:16 am Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Throughout this coronavirus crisis, southwest Michigan residents have shown remarkable resilience in the face of the unknown. They have exuded patience, discipline and trust in following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders that, while helping prevent the spread of the virus, have also severely damaged the economy and restricted individual liberty.

More people have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks than in the last two years combined, and the financial impact of the governor’s shutdown will be felt for years to come.

The effects of these orders are far-reaching and have impacted our communities deeply, and the people’s trust in the governor is eroding because there doesn’t appear to be any real plan to get our state out of this mess. That the governor’s most recent stay home order placed even further restrictions on people’s freedoms and business operations underscores their growing resentment, and perhaps reveals how little trust the governor has in the people she works for.

My office has been inundated with messages from constituents who have shared their frustrations and concerns with the ongoing shutdown of our state.

One person was harassed at a local big-box retailer when attempting to purchase shoes for their children, because the shoes weren’t an essential item.

An exasperated resident wondered how it could be justified that people may go canoeing, but they are not permitted to take a motorized boat to go fishing alone.

Another person said they live alone and work alone, and that their mental and physical health are suffering because of the stay home order. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of the shutdown.

These are just a few of the many such messages that my colleagues from across the state and I receive on a daily basis. One constituent summed things up quite well: “Defining essential businesses and, now, our own personal purchasing is insulting and infuriating.”

The response to COVID-19 is killing more than just people; it is wrecking the economy and is demoralizing people who are effectively being punished for doing nothing wrong. Yes, the disease is serious — one life lost is one too many. And, while the disease may not be going away anytime soon, we simply cannot go on living like this in perpetuity.

Michigan needs a real plan to navigate its way out of this emergency, to smartly and safely reopen the economy and to restore our constitutional freedom of assembly and right of self-determination.

If you agree, contact Gov. Whitmer and let her know your thoughts. Her constituent services line is (517) 335-7858.