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West Michigan Republican state lawmaker promoting statewide mask mandate

Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming) portrait

Mask wearing has become a politically partisan issue. Enter a West Michigan, Republican state lawmaker. As local hospitals near capacity with COVID-19 patients, he says his colleagues took an oath to protect the public and a mask mandate is necessary.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has mandated mask wearing. Still, not everyone is onboard.

“Some of the citizens look at that as, ‘Oh, that’s just forcing us’ and, freedom’s a strong word, and I really respect the word freedom but, I look at the case of a mask mandate as freedom to live longer and save lives.”

Republican State Representative Tommy Brann is a small business owner. His Wyoming restaurant is impacted by a temporary state order restricting dining service – currently, take out only. For Brann mask wearing is about restoring the economy, keeping schools open, reducing an overwhelming influx of COVID-19 patients at area hospitals. It’s about saving lives.

“I took that oath and I take it really seriously. I carry it in my wallet.”

It’s under Article 4 of the Michigan Constitution, “The public health and general welfare of the people of the state are hereby declared to be matters of primary public concern. The legislature shall pass suitable laws for the protection and promotion of the public health.”

“And I think part of that oath is a mask mandate.”

It’s not permanent. Just to get through the pandemic. Rep. Brann says there are a number of his Republican colleagues onboard. Can they deliver the message?

“I think there is legislation on it, but I don’t know if it’ll be brought up or not? But, if it was brought up I would be voting ‘yes’ on it and I feel obligated to vote yes on it because of the oath I took.”

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.