“We can’t hide until the virus leaves Michigan. We have to have conversations about what jobs can be done safely. I absolutely agree with safety and science. The data looks like it's trending down. We need to make sure people are protected, but Government cannot remove all risk factors from our lives. It is our individual right to be informed and to make the best decisions for ourselves. Overall, we need more data and then, when the data indicates we have more cases than we knew about, not to have a knee jerk reaction to it. Fear and force are not the answer.”
(Julie Calley interview with The Beacon on Friday, April 18th)
State Representative Julie Calley (R-Portland) was named to a bipartisan oversight committee to review and assess the State’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic. Calley joins nine other legislators (five from the Senate and four from the House). Calley stated in a press release yesterday that as a state representative, “I serve as a voice of the people. I am privileged to have this opportunity to advocate for their interests and locate the answers they deserve, as our state continues to address the health and economic devastation this virus has caused.”
Calley is pleased that the Governor revised the stay-at-home order yesterday. “While easing these restrictions is a big step in the right direction, there are many more changes we should be making to address the needs of families who are struggling”, Calley said. “Today’s families have never been under as much stress as they are now. Not all families are safe. Unemployment is up. Domestic violence reports are up. Not all kids, who are normally in school, are necessarily safe at home. Many families that have lost loved ones to the virus or otherwise have not been able to grieve or mourn in traditional ways."
“The original goal of the shutdown”, Calley told the Beacon, “was to protect our hospitals from being overwhelmed!” Calley explained that “some health systems have been overwhelmed, but the pendulum has now swung the other way”. Normal healthcare related interventions including ‘elective surgeries’ and other non-COVID-19 procedures have not been taking place, causing millions of dollars being lost to health systems, and have subsequently forced the lay-offs of thousands of non-COVID-19 focused staff. While those front-line medical professionals dealing with the coronavirus have been completely overwhelmed anyway. To make it worse, Calley explained, there have been numerous reports that people are avoiding Emergency Rooms if their issue is non-virus related. Some people wait too long to seek the ER and then it can be too late.
“Every day I have constituents calling me to complain about the shut-down and wanting to go back to work. We need to start an incremental introduction to returning the workforce. People who can work individually or outside and have minimal risk should be allowed to return to work”, Calley stated. “We are going to have to have a different mindset. What does a safe employment place of work look like? How can employers make it safe?”
Once the restrictions are lifted Calley wonders if we will all expect to return to the lifestyle we had pre-coronavirus. “Overall, we have an unhealthy lifestyle”, Calley reflected. “We will have to continue to be mindful of precautions. We are longing to return to normal but there will be a new normal. Until a vaccine is approved, we are as a whole, in danger."
Moving forward, Calley believes that the State should 1) follow CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) revised standards for essential services that have been issued by the Federal government to address the coronavirus. Twenty states have adopted these standards. Michigan has not. Michigan’s definition is currently more restrictive at this time. 2) Consider regional approaches to restrictions and solutions. 3) Utilize the models that other states around us have been developing and implementing. In other words, “work with other Governors”. 4) Make data driven, risk-based decisions. This is a “what is safe, that we can do now?” approach.
“Finally,” Calley noted, “there is one more thing we can all do. We can reach out to those we know who might be feeling isolated and try to reduce their loneliness. I have been doing this with my 89-year-old mother. We can all try to be better neighbors, friends and family”. That could be part of a new normal too.