State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, pointed to testimony in a Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic hearing while illuminating the need for more efficient communication between state and local officials – both in response to COVID-19 and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders.
The select committee welcomed Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division Commander Kevin Sweeney to discuss the state’s emergency preparedness for COVID-19, as well as personal protective equipment supply and procurement and the functionality of the state’s Emergency Operations Center.
Sweeney said regional and local officials, including those who head up emergency response, were not notified of an alert that went out on the governor’s mask order and that communication should have been stronger at the beginning of the public health crisis. Calley said following the hearing that this was a crystal clear example of state and local officials needing to be more on the same page to ensure efficient emergency response.
“A lack of advanced notice to our local officials ends up producing unnecessary confusion, especially with the myriad of executive orders that are coming from the administration,” Calley said. “It is bad enough to create tremendously burdensome enforcement requirements for our local authorities while not engaging state departments who are typically involved in this type of oversight. But it’s immensely troubling for local leaders to not be in the loop on many of these decisions.”
Calley also took issue with state distribution of vital personal protective equipment. Sweeney disclosed that as COVID-19 cases began to go up in Michigan, distribution was weighted heavily toward southeast Michigan due to demand.
“Several regions of Michigan are in the same phase under the governor’s model as it relates to this pandemic,” Calley said. “Our local first responders had to purchase their own supplies, based on the state’s inability to provide protection to our area of the state.”