GUEST COLUMN: Sheriff Murphy should not let politics stand in the way of public health

Kasey Helton

Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy has let down this entire county by refusing to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders, specifically the clearly defined enforcement procedures for local businesses that defy them. In doing so, Murphy has put public health at risk by increasing the potential for further exposure to the coronavirus.

It seems as though it would’ve been a simple task to take a short walk next door to County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencort’s office to get clarity on the governor’s orders. Vailliencort, who heads the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, recently told the press in clear terms the orders are enforceable.

Instead, Murphy chose to create a circus on Facebook and only further confuse the issue for both the business community and the general public. This decision was not only irresponsible, but has made us less safe. There is so much about coronavirus we do not know, and without mass testing, we simply do not know the extent of the spread in our community.

Let’s not forget this entire controversy began because a gym owner chose to open up in defiance of these orders in Brighton last week. This was not about a neighbor reporting their neighbor for not wearing a mask. The orders strictly prohibit gyms from opening because gyms are essentially petri dishes for propagating and spreading viruses

Think about it: Nobody is wearing a mask in a gym when they’re on a treadmill. It’s a bunch of people in an enclosed space breathing hard, therefore expiring droplets in a greater amount at a farther distance because they are breathing so hard. On top of that, people run their faces because of sweat, those faces have saliva on them from the breathing, and then people turn around and touch equipment with those hands. Not everybody wipes equipment. Even if they did, it does not protect against the droplet spread.

It is not sufficient to tell people to just stay home if they don’t like it.

Why?

Because the people who go to those gyms will carry that infection home with them. They will carry it to essential businesses like grocery stores. If they are essential workers, they will carry it to their workplace.

Right now Livingston County is doing great; our cases are going down. This week County Health Department Medical Director Dr. Juan Luis Marquez indicated we are headed in the right direction in terms of lowering the spread. The only reason we have accomplished this as a community is because people have been obeying Gov. Whitmer’s orders and staying home. This could all easily change, and all it takes is one person who is sick and perhaps doesn’t know it, and is confused because of what he or she hears from public officials like Sheriff Murphy.

I don’t think Sheriff Murphy wants that to happen, so let’s not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by putting politics over public health.

Kasey Helton is an admissions triage associate for Michigan Medicine, and is the Democratic Candidate for Livingston County Board of Commissioner’s Dist. 6.

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