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Former public health officials: Ignore petition to limit emergency powers

Anti Mask Protest 16.jpg

Warn that petition continues to politicize the use of masks

A bipartisan group of former state and local public health officials are urging people to ignore a petition campaign that would enact new restrictions on emergency powers that have been used to combat the spread of COVID-19.

They’re opposed to the petition drive to limit state or local emergency health orders to 28 days unless extensions are approved by the Legislature or county commissions.

Janet Olszewski was Governor Jennifer Granholm’s public health director. She says the initiative would put the judgment of politicians over public health experts.

“Public health emergencies are complex,” she said. “They are fast-moving and ever-changing.”

“Local and state public health officials have the specific training and expertise to understand the emerging threats and to quickly develop and deploy responses to those threats.”

The public health chief who served under Republican Governors John Engler and Rick Snyder is also part of the decline-to-sign campaign.

Jim Haveman says public health emergencies should be managed by experts, instead of the Legislature or county commissions.

“I think that’s a danger,” he said, “and it puts public health in the hands of politicians.”

If the petition drive collects enough signatures, it would put the question before the Legislature to adopt or it would go on the ballot.

Republicans say Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments have exceeded their authority with unilateral measures instead of negotiating with legislators on the best measures to address COVID.

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