04-09-2020 Letters and Commentary

Appreciating our front-line health care providers In the battle against the coronavirus, heroes are emerging. Across the country, and here at home, stories are being shared of the incredible sacrifices that are being made by our health care providers. As they face critical shortages of personal protective equipment and an inundation of new virus patients, these heroes suit up for each shift, not knowing if they too might contract the illness. Nevertheless, they serve. Our health care providers and support staff stand in the breach, striving to keep people healthy and hospitals running. They sacrifice their own health and time from their families, putting in hours that most would balk at, to fight this disease. Many have become sick in the process, and some have been lost to the virus.

I am reminded of Scripture when thinking of our health care heroes: No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. But no battle can be won alone, or even by a group of dedicated health care providers. To win, everyone must have a role. In this current fight, we stand together while apart.

Many are wondering what they can do to help. Social distancing is our contribution in the war effort. This, along with practicing basic healthy habits, is how we support the health care warriors on the front lines. The fewer of us they have to treat, the better able they will be to help the rapidly growing number of sick who are flowing into hospitals. This is how we flatten the curve, and that is how we win.

In the meantime, I thank God for every health care provider who gets up each day and answers the call to serve and make the world a better place. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

The virus does not take the weekend off Last weekend it was appalling to see, on the news in places across the country, folks still gathering at public places like beaches. We need to remember to be vigilant during the weekend and during the week. The virus does not take the weekend off. We need to limit person to person contact in order to flatten the curve and get this virus under control. Stay home and stay safe. I know these are challenging times. Folks are feeling more isolated and miss seeing their friends and family. Be sure you are calling, texting, FaceTiming, and emailing each other to check in and stay in touch. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Be sure to make time to unwind. If you would like to talk to someone, you can call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. If it’s an emergency, please call 911. Remember, we are all in this together. We are all facing this challenge together. And together, we will get through it. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

All hands on-deck On March 31, the Legislature considered a concurrent resolution extending the governor’s declaration of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC’s recommended date for maintaining social distancing guidelines nationwide is May 1, not mid-June as the governor demanded. With this extension through the end of April, I’m hoping the governor uses this as an opportunity to speed up responses and answer vital questions that my constituents have posed to me and strengthen critical safety nets for employees across the state. While our friends and neighbors are struggling just to get by, the unemployment hotline and website have been inadequate to put it politely. Additionally, the decision that some businesses such as landscapers, golf courses, and pool cleaners are forced to remain closed when they could safely be open and following social distancing guidelines is confusing and isn’t supported by data other than a, “because I said so” answer from the administration. We desperately need answers to these questions before we ask Michiganders to sign away their rights for another two and a half months. Getting our state in-line with federal recommendations, CDC and CISA are commonsense, and I believe it’s a prudent step we can all take together. Every day, millions of hardworking Americans get up and go to work to keep our state and country running. My office has been flooded with calls and emails since the start of this pandemic, and it’s my duty to ensure your voices are heard as we respond to this virus. We need all hands on-deck to face this crisis and I’m prepared to work with my colleagues, Governor Whitmer’s administration, and President Trump’s administration to help our community get the help and resources it needs. Working together, we’ll get through this. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me