HomeHealth Care NewsMichigan Wants to Make Lockdowns Standard Policy for Pandemics

Michigan Wants to Make Lockdowns Standard Policy for Pandemics

By Tom Gantert

Lockdowns are now a part of an official state of Michigan’s plan for future pandemics.

One page of the plan from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services lists several state responses. These include: “canceling mass gatherings of more than 10 people” and “limit unnecessary movement in the community/shelter-in-place.” The updated plan was released in December, and it has gone largely unnoticed.

The plan differs from advice given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which in its latest guidelines, does not recommend shelter-in-place orders in response to a pandemic. Instead, the agency recommends voluntary home isolation and quarantine for those who may have been infected or exposed to someone infected.

While the CDC does recommend school closures and canceling or postponing large gatherings, these are reserved only for severe or extreme pandemics. The latest plan from the state health department, by contrast, makes no distinctions for a pandemic’s severity and so seems to apply equally to all of them.

Lynn Sutfin, the spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, released a statement about the plan. (Note that “NPIs” include shelter-in-place orders.) It reads as follows:

“According to the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, all states are required to have a plan for pandemics. Like all plans, they are guiding resources, meant to be adjusted as needed based on the response. It is an annex to our MDHHS Emergency Operations Plan, as dictated in the Michigan Emergency Management Plan, per the Michigan Emergency Management Act, PA 390 of 1976.”

“NPIs [Non-pharmaceutical interventions] have been included in previous pandemic plans, particularly Pandemic Influenza, and are based on CDC guidance. The NPIs in the CDC MMWR from 2017 formed the basis of our COVID response. Again that article was published in 2017 and used as a guidance document in developing plans and recommendations.”

“Since the beginning of COVID, CDC has made additional recommendations including NPIs based on the transmission of COVID, burden of disease, severity of illness, and populations impacted. The state of Michigan has used these updated guidelines to respond throughout the COVID pandemic.”

Tom Gantert (gantert@mackinac.org) is the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. This article was originally published on CapCon on March 19, 2021

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