Opinion | Gov. Whitmer needs our help in this crisis. That's common sense.

Beth Bowen

Beth Bowen is with a leader Eaton County Indivisible

Senator Mike Shirkey argues for common sense changes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order. All too often, we are seeing the term common sense used to weaponize ignorance against expertise. In the advent of social media which gives a public voice to everyone, confidence in one’s opinion has been elevated to a stature equal to scientific, medical, engineering, economic and historical expertise. People who study these fields for years, immerse themselves in them, are somehow deficient compared to someone who shouts loudly about a personal experience they once had or how their parents raised them.

The most important place to begin with COVID-19 is that we do not know very much about it. That’s the common sense approach. Assume we know nothing and start gathering hard data. That’s what the call for testing, antibody research, and contact tracking is all about. Learning. Data. Science. Not opinion or shouting.

Disease doesn’t follow civil rights. It doesn’t care if you are a proponent of the 2nd amendment. It doesn’t care if your small family business has been around for three generations. It is disease. It is opportunistic, looking for a warm body in which to grow.

The world has not faced a disease like COVID-19 for 100 years. That means that a vast majority of the people alive today have no memory of the last time something ripped through a population, felling old and young alike. Families were devastated; the economy was hurt. Businesses failed. And yet, we went on to the successes of the 20th century.

In the absence of a cohesive national strategy for trying to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, governors of each state have had to fulfill their oaths of office and protect the people they were elected to govern. Some governors have faced thousands of infected citizens and thousands of deaths. Others have had a smattering of cases and very few deaths.

But, again, acknowledging that we know very little about this disease, there is no blueprint for how to run a state facing these kinds of challenges. Funding for public health, like roads, schools, and other public ventures, has been gutted in recent decades under the guise of lower taxes. There are too few professionals trained in epidemiology, the study of disease. There are too few resources dedicated to the possibility of an outbreak like this.

The government doesn’t take taxes from us. We pay the government to provide us with services that we all want and all use. We all want clean water, safe roads, responsive police and fire departments. And we all have to pay for such conveniences of a civil and modern society.

This legacy of unprepared public services is not necessarily the fault of the current occupants of any elected office. All we can do from here is our best to cope with what we have. Blame is pointless. Solving problems is the order of the day.

Governor Whitmer is in constant consultation with as many public health experts as she can to understand the best steps to take to protect people’s lives. Whether you voted for her or not, whether you are a Democrat or Republican, whether you live in Onekama or Detroit, she is working to protect you and your family. She is working to protect people she doesn’t know, might never meet, and yet still cares for.  And she is putting protections in place, even though she knows many will be unpopular.  The need to act swiftly and with decisiveness and clarity overrides a more nuanced and strategic approach that might be appropriate in “normal” circumstances. Doing what is right, rather than what is popular or politically expedient is a sign of integrity and leadership.

And she needs our help.

Every person who is financially and situationally able to stay home, to stop visiting stores for anything beyond food and health supplies, to put off travel and home improvement projects, to postpone elective surgery, and to put up with a little inconvenience can help and be a part of the solution.

Governors are the most visible part of the fight against COVID-19 at the state level. But it’s up to all of us to be on the team. It’s up to every Michigander who can to help every Michigander who can’t. It’s time to protect our workers in food service, in utilities, in waste management, in healthcare, in public service, and in transportation. These are the necessities of life that will pull us through this crisis. Everything else is secondary right now.

Right now. Not forever. Right now.

We can kick the ass of this disease if we work as a team and look out for each other. Michigan is strong enough to do that. Michigan is strong enough to build a future that will be more resilient to another crisis like this.

“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate. This is the dilemma we face, but it should not stop us from doing what we can to prepare. We need to reach out to everyone with words that inform, but not inflame. — Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ask yourself: Are you informing or inflaming the people of Michigan? Are you solving problems or creating new ones? Are you helping people or hurting them?

Leaders of StateWide Indivisible Michigan - SWIM

Beth Bowen, Eaton County Indivisible
Sherri Masson & Liz Estes, Indivisible Huron Valley
Deb Parker, Indivisible In The Thumb
Allison Wilcox, Women Of MI Action Network (WOMAN)
Victoria Gutowski, Leelanau Indivisible
Matt Barkley, North Oakland Indivisible Team
Laurie Lisi, Indivisible Fighting 9
Shirley Kaigler, Indivisible Metro Detroit Women
Paula Martinos-Mantay, StateWide Indivisible Michigan
Michelle Pallas, StateWide Indivisible Michigan
Ruthette Mills, Indivisible Central UP
Linda Lauer, Monroe Resists
Lynne Cavazos, Indivisible Advocates For Humanity
Terri McKinnon, Our Revolution Jackson County
Terri McCormick, Troy Indivisible
Christina Jacobs, Kalamazoo Indivisible
Denise Benjamin, Lenawee Indivisible
Jenn Garland, Indivisible MI 14th District
PJ Edwards, Detroit
Patricia McDade-Ralya, Brenda Lindsay, Gayle Snyder, Indivisible Livingston County Sylvia McCullough, Indivisible Traverse City
John DeSpelder, Indivisible Grand Traverse
Shellie Jeffries, Indivisible Greater Grand Rapids

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mary therese lemanek
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 11:36am

if people would be responsible for their behavior there would be no need to impose limitations.

Debbie Rosenman
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 11:54am

I wholeheartedly agree with the message in this column!

Daisy B Herndon
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 8:49am

So do I!

Jeremy T in TC
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 1:32pm

"Ask yourself: Are you informing or inflaming the people of Michigan? Are you solving problems or creating new ones? Are you helping people or hurting them?"
Go to your own website indivisible.org and ask yourself that same question 'Leaders' of Indvisible Michigan. Hypocrites all of you... are you inflaming the people of Michigan and the country with that site ? YES! Are you creating new problems with it YES!! Are you hurting people with your hatred? YES!!! Your TDS is very visible, and sad.

Barry Visel
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 2:14pm

Wow, Jeremy...thanks for posting their website address. I had not heard of this organization. Certainly provides insight and perspective to this opinion piece.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 04/14/2020 - 6:22pm

Obvoiusly, Ms. Bowen is the "letter captain" for this SJW group.

It's a shame that The Bridge didn't feel that it was important to include that "minor" detail above. I'm sure that Ms. Williams will address that at some point.

That out of the way, exactly where does Ms. Bowen get off with the attitude that everyone in Michigan is too stupid to think for ourselves? I'd really like to know?

Are the "experts" to be listened to, only those with titles?

Are the rest of us incapable of looking up incormation on our own?

Are the rest of us supossed to remain silent when it is patently obvious that our elected officials are acting on bad data and models, resulting in outcomes worse than the initial problem?

The only plus side here is that for people like Ms. Bowen who feel that we should kiss the ground that Gov. Karen walks on, her "authority" WILL end in 16-days (or less when the lawsuits against Gov. Karen results in a unfavorable decision on her part). They'll find that it won't be so easy the next time around when they want to lord over us lowly people with the same scare tactics.

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 11:38pm

Samuel Adams:
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

Patrick Henry:
“ Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?”

Gerry Niedermaier
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 8:29am

Superb quotes.

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 9:29am

No, I do not agree with everything the Gov has dictated. Why should I be allowed to buy paint from one store but not another, when the store that is not allowed to sell paint is probably in a better position to provide protection for its customers. This smacks of a government trying to take over a private system. Why should the whole state be penalized when there are plenty of counties with ZERO cases of corona virus.

If she really wants to protect the state, she should send the National Guard into those places that have huge percentages of incidence, and force social distancing in those places.

Richard Barron
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 12:39pm

"All too often, we are seeing the term common sense used to weaponize ignorance against expertise. " Just so!

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 2:26pm

Oh, the dictator believes she’s doing for our own good?

Oh, well, that changes things.

Where do I sign up to become a slave?

Marcia Conaghan
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 3:05pm

I believe in this proclamation of support for Governor Whitmer. Beautifully stated and true. We all have the capacity to be here for each other while we are handling the slow incoming data and outlook. This is not the time to fight for reopening, but to continue to build on data and planning, to count on the advice and knowledge of scientists and researchers, to keep a careful watch on our communities.

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 6:21pm

Thank you for this post. The GOP and its sycophants are so afraid of losing any power they will continue to be obstructionists.

I feel much sadness for these "little boys" who have to continue the same old drivel with every post. I am really not sure why they follow Bridge, other than to indulge themselves and feed their hatred. Boys, stress kills, you may want to consider another form of entertainment.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 10:36am

Hmmmmm peak keeps changing? Quote for those who can afford it stay home. People CAN'T afford it. I've said all along this will continue all summer! It's all political agenda. People will rebel. She needs a plan to open Michigan! Apparently she can't think of anything. Impeach!

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:16am

The reality is that the world has changed and will never go back to the way it used to be. A consumption economy can only go on for so long and I am afraid it is over.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:08am

So jump on the depression bandwagon. It's far better to die of starvation or some other malady than Covid-19. So join in lockstep on our glorious march to total ruin.

Tue, 04/21/2020 - 6:22pm

This person writes wonderfully and has is very passionate. But they are wrong.

John P.A. Ioannidis - co-director of Stanford University's Meta-Research Innovation Center and professor of medicine, biomedical data science, statistics, and epidemiology and population health - thinks that data shows Americans are vastly overreacting to the coronavirus. In an opinion piece written for STAT last week, Ioannidis said, "the current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco."

"This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless. Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.

The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.

Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data — there were just seven deaths among the 700 infected passengers and crew — the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). It is also possible that some of the passengers who were infected might die later, and that tourists may have different frequencies of chronic diseases — a risk factor for worse outcomes with SARS-CoV-2 infection — than the general population. Adding these extra sources of uncertainty, reasonable estimates for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary from 0.05% to 1%. That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies...."

That's some pretty harsh evidence. You can call to action as many times as you want and tell me over and over that I have to fall in line and march lock-step with you, but it's much harder to answer data, reasoning, and logic. So here you go.