LANSING — Days after Governor Whitmer announced she would be accelerating her Vacc to Normal program to ease COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan ahead of schedule on June 1st and fully eliminate them by July 1st, the same Republicans that bucked and continue to reject these public safety protocols throughout the pandemic are now claiming they didn’t do enough to save lives.
Today, the RGA is putting half a million dollars behind their partisan commitment to obstruct Governor Whitmer.
Throughout the pandemic, Governor Whitmer acted quickly to protect the most vulnerable population — elderly Michiganders in nursing homes. Under her leadership, CDC guidance was closely followed while state officials worked around the clock to secure PPE and required testing for residents and staff – conducting nearly 1.5 million tests.
And as vaccinations became available in December 2020, nursing home residents and the staff that care for them were prioritized first. As of May 20th, 100% of long-term care facilities have completed second dose clinics, vaccinating hundreds of thousands of Michigan seniors — a bold initiative that resulted in a 96% drop in COVID-19 cases and 99% drop in related deaths in nursing homes. As of yesterday, over 70% of Michganders aged 65 and up are fully vaccinated. According to the most recent state data, the week of May 16th was 97% less fatal than the peak nursing home residents experienced in December 2020.
Due to these actions, Governor Whitmer was recognized by the former head of the AARP for pursuing an approach that “implemented an aggressive nursing home strategy that closely followed CMS and CDC guidance…[and] helped limit the spread overall and therefore mitigated the harm nursing homes would have felt.” Additionally, an independent expert from University of Michigan “found the governor’s strategy to be reasonable and appropriate, especially at the time.”
Meanwhile, GOP leaders put our senior Michiganders at greater risk through their irresponsible, politically motivated actions.
Back in January, Governor Whitmer announced a spending plan for over $5 billion in COVID-19 recovery funding allocated to Michigan to boost mass vaccination, open schools safely, and get our economy moving again. Less than half of those funds have been used as Whitmer was forced to veto extremely counterintuitive GOP poison pills tied to $1.5 billion in funding that would’ve made it impossible for local health departments to react to pandemic data and take measures to stop the spread.
Earlier this month, Republican lawmakers invited known conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf to testify against vaccines where she alleged that “vaccine applications on cellphones are tracking people” and likened public safety strategies employed by New York and Israel to “population separation efforts in Nazi Germany.”
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey continues to refuse a vaccine, saying that he’s “got immunity now” after contracting COVID-19 and has previously said people should just learn to “live with the virus,” which would have killed 30,000 additional Michiganders.
“As Michigan reopens, National Republicans are throwing misleading political ads to distract from their failed response to combating COVID-19. This desperate attack on Governor Whitmer doesn’t change the fact that her leadership saved the lives of countless Michganders, especially our seniors,” said Rodericka Applewhaite, MDP spokesperson. “From the beginning of this pandemic, Governor Whitmer listened to medical experts, followed CDC guidance, ensured PPE was provided to both nursing home residents and those that provide their care, and instituted a robust program to get all Michiganders vaccinated that has to date resulted in over 8 million shots in arms.”