Dear Rep. Jack O’Malley and Sen. Curt VanderWall:

Recently I listened to your interview responses to questions posed by a local TV news organization regarding the COVID pandemic, and I wondered exactly which planet you both were living on. Certainly your responses indicate you couldn’t possibly be living on this Earth.

In October your Republican-funded effort successfully overturned Michigan’s Emergency Powers Act preventing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from exercising evidence-based policies to protect Michigan residents. It has only taken six weeks for Michigan to be overwhelmed with COVID cases, entirely as predicted. Statewide case numbers have risen exponentially from 1,455 new cases/day to 9,179 new cases/day, as of this writing. The Traverse City MERC region which you both represent, is in Risk Level E, the highest and most dangerous, indicating uncontrolled spread throughout. Here in Benzie County our positive test rate is 11.4 percent, telling us that at best testing here is limited to meet our needs, and that most cases likely go undetected.

I am incredulous that both of you continue to soft-peddle the extreme gravity of our situation, denying what public health experts worldwide know as our only hope for controlling this lethal disease. No, Rep. O’Malley, much of what we can do is not being done. Being reasonable means following what science and public health professionals recommend to prevent tragic loss of life that will come as surely as the sun will rise. And no, Sen. VanderWall, we are not behaving as adults concerned about each other’s health.

If we were, contact tracers wouldn’t be derided and ridiculed for doing their jobs trying to save peoples’ lives. If we were, you would see no one outdoors without a mask. Instead of ignoring science you could have worked to provide our public health workers with the tools they need, strengthening our perilously weak public health infrastructure.

You chose not to.

Since the onset of the pandemic, you have demonstrated that you care not for the health of your constituents. If you did, you’d be cheerleaders for a scientific approach to defeating this public health disaster. Over the past week, Benzie’s daily new case rate has soared to 38.6 per 100,000, in the critical range.

Michigan’s case fatality rate hovers around 3 percent, which translates into an additional 1,000 deaths/week statewide. How many of those will be in Benzie? Whose mother, son, husband, wife, father or daughter will be on the list?

About the author: Michael Hertz, M.D., is a clinical associate professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and an adjunct instructor at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He has been a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists since 1985. He received a master’s degree in health management and policy from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

About the author: Michael Hertz, M.D., is a clinical associate professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and an adjunct instructor at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He has been a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists since 1985. He received a master's degree in health management and policy from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

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