Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist urges the top two legislative Republicans to adopt and enforce a mask mandate in the Michigan Senate and House chambers.
"This is not a political issue," he tells Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield in an open letter Wednesday. "Leaders lead, and it is on all of us to step up and protect each other during this challenging time."
After a 4-3 state Supreme Court decision invalidating the governor's Covid safety emergency orders, including mask mandates in public places, Shirkey tweeted last weekend: "I do NOT support a statewide mask mandate."
Republicans have a majority in both legislative chambers, where face coverings are optional on the Capitol floor, in committee rooms and in offices.
Here's part of the Democratic lieutenant governor's 10-paragraph letter:
I am making this appeal to you as president of the Michigan Senate, as the father of young children and as someone who has seen first-hand the devastation caused by this virus.
Since March 10, Michigan has seen more than 129,000 Covid-19 cases and 6,800 deaths. That means that every member of each legislative body has seen the people they serve impacted by this pandemic. ...
This is a matter of science. Masks are proven to be an effective and simple way to slow the spread of this virus.
This is personal for me. I have seen what the coronavirus can do. I have lost 23 people who are close to me, including members of my family. ...
Requiring members of the Senate and House to mask up is also about the safety of our families, our friends, and anyone we cross paths with after we leave these chambers. We have no way to know who is at-risk or who has an at-risk loved one waiting for them at home.
The decision to wear a mask demonstrates that you respect the safety of everyone around you and everyone that they care about. So let us model the safest behavior with the hopes that others would do the same.