Michigan health chief: Life will be better if we get COVID under control

Lawmakers questioned the state health director on mental health, vaccines, and shutdown orders.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, especially people stuck at home during the state’s temporary “pause” on in-person classes, gatherings, and indoor dining. But the state’s top health official insisted during a Thursday hearing that the hardship of the shutdown will help us avoid a worse outcome later.

“If we can get the virus under control, how much better will all of us feel? How much of a relief will it be not to worry about the safety of ourselves, our children, our parents?” said Robert Gordon, the director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). He was called to testify to the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Thursday morning.

What Happened: The Republican-led committee comprised of both state Senators and Representatives grilled Gordon on a number of subjects. Chief among them was the order, issued two weeks ago, that effectively shut down many bars and restaurants in the state and limited gathering sizes.

The order came from MDHHS, which has legal authority to issue restrictions related to public health. Previous orders issued by the governor were overruled by the state Supreme Court in October.

“With the levels of spread that we have in Michigan right now, there is no way to make people sitting around the table, close together and with masks off for an extended period of time a safe activity,” said Gordon in response to questions about his decision-making process.

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Gordon refused to say whether his department would extend the shutdown order. It is currently set to expire December 9. He told the committee the decision will be based on data such as positivity rates, hospital capacity, and trends in other states.

You can read more on Bridge Michigan.

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