LANSING, Mich. — The leaders of the Henry Ford Health System say they don’t want to debate politics, but the science shows what is in a bill scheduled for debate in committee on Thursday could put lives at risk if passed.
Henry Ford Health System held a press conference Wednesday to share information about how more people are testing positive for COVID-19 and hospitalizations are increasing.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services held a press conference on the same day and discussed how it is seeing high transmission of the virus and a 36% increase in the number of outbreaks. The state reported that vaccines are protecting people.
According to the state, 97.6% of cases between January 15 and June 28 were in people who were not fully vaccinated.
At the same time, Michigan Republicans are taking action aimed at stopping hospitals, schools, and private businesses from requiring vaccinations or masks.
House Bill 4471 would ban employers from requiring vaccinations or requiring masks as a consequence of being unvaccinated.
“I am hearing from people that are scared,” said State Rep. Beth Griffin, R-District 66.
State Representative Beth Griffin says she helped introduce the bill because she feels people shouldn’t get fired if they don’t want the vaccine. She says regulating employers also prevents staffing problems.
“Hospitals are looking at reduced staff and stressed employment levels by forcing this on the people that are left that have been through hell,” she said.
“At the present time, it is a safety issue,” said Dr. Adnan Munkareh, Henry Ford's Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer.
Henry Ford Health System is requiring employees get vaccinated. Dr. Adnan Munkareh says to protect staff and patients the state should not ban medical safety rules.
“Is the next thing the legislature going to decide what medication we can give and cannot give based on science out there? Wearing a mask is a medical decision within our hospitals at the present time,” he said.
“As an English teacher, I compare it to the flu,” said State Representative Griffin.
“We have used it before for the flu,” said Dr. Munkareh, explaining the hospital has required staff to get the flu shot or wear masks.
“Everyone who is getting a vaccination. Everyone who is wearing a mask indoors. Those are all steps we can take as members of a community with a shared responsibility of protecting our children, especially those under 12 who are not yet able to receive vaccinations,” said Dr. Jeanice Swift, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent.
Dr. Swift says her district’s locally elected leaders decided to require staff vaccinations or testing, plus are requiring masks.
Republican Lawmakers have also introduced House Bill 5269, a bill that would ban mask mandates in schools.
House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski (District 52) says both of these bills put politics before the health of the most vulnerable.
“As we are in this gap where vaccinations are not available to children, local districts should be able to make the decision whether mask mandates are right and appropriate in their schools,” said Lasinski.