Executives from around Michigan call for political unity in fight against COVID-19

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 17:31:18-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Stop the partisan fighting and put together a unified plan to address COVID-19. That is the message from 32 of Michigan’s top health care, labor, higher education, and business executives.

They sent a letter sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D), Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R), and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R). It voices serious concerns about how our businesses and economy will suffer if we continue on the path we are on right now.

The letter shares data that is raising concerns. Coronavirus cases are at their highest levels since April. It isn’t just due to testing. Hospitalizations are surging. More people are sick.

“Many of the companies who signed the letter are active around the world and are seeing a wicked second wave in Europe, but we are seeing it in the United States too,” said Gerry Anderson, Executive Chairman of DTE Energy.

“Nothing could be worse for our economy and for businesses than if we do not get a hold of this virus,” said Detroit Chamber CEO Sandy K. Baruah.

They are two of 32 executives who signed the letter from the Michigan Economic Recovery Council calling on Republican and Democratic leaders to show unity and fight the spread of the virus.

“If a crew goes into battle in war with the soldiers confused and the generals fighting about whether you should be in the battle, you lose,” said Anderson.

“There’s confusion because of some lack of unity in terms of messaging about the importance of wearing masks and taking this thing seriously,” said Baruah.

“I have personal experience with that. I had a contractor come into my company and ignore masks and create a major spread in one of our power plants. That forced us to shut it down. We operate that plant every day now, masked and have no issues,” said Anderson.

They say it is a matter of life and death, pointing out that the data also shows that the number of people in more vulnerable age groups getting sick is also increasing.

They warn that even if the government chooses a hands-off approach, businesses will be impacted if cases increase significantly. People will self isolate to protect their loved ones, impacting the economy.

The Michigan Economic Recovery Council is a bipartisan group of executives formed to advise the governor as she re-opened the economy. I reached out to the people the letter was sent to, for their response and I have not heard back.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.