Congressional lawmakers from Michigan reacted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) telling their state to shut down as the Wolverine State leads the nation in COVID-19 cases.
Republican members of the Michigan congressional delegation spoke out against the CDC’s new recommendation to shut the state down again amid a COVID-19 spike, while Democratic members sided with the CDC.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Monday that a shutdown was necessary as the state wouldn’t be able to use a vaccine surge as a solution to the rising number of cases.
“Really what we need to do in those situations is to shut things down,” Walensky said Monday. “If we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work to actually have the impact.”
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., decried the CDC’s recommendation to shut down Michigan again in a statement to Fox News, calling on the Biden administration to “adopt a surge strategy” and give the state more vaccines instead of backing another shutdown.
“It’s clear that Michigan is a hot spot for COVID-19. To prevent further spread and save lives, the Biden Administration should adopt a surge strategy and increase vaccine allocation to Michigan instead of advocating for shutting down the economy,” Huizenga said. “Manufacturers, restaurants, and small businesses alike are still trying to recover from the mandated government shutdowns over the past year.”
“Shutting down the economy again is not the answer,” the congressman added.
Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., a retired Marine Corps. lieutenant general, joined his colleague in blasting the CDC’s recommendation, pointing out in a statement to Fox News that Michigan is experiencing a spike while the state “already has some of the most draconian lockdown measures in the country.”
“Now, the CDC bureaucrats – most of whom have never signed a paycheck or run a business – want to further decimate our economy,” Bergman continued. “They don’t know what it’s like to lose the business they’ve worked to build for decades or lose a job and have to fight the state for months just to get an unemployment check.”
The Republican congressman called on Walensky and the Biden White House to “focus attention on getting more vaccines distributed to Michigan immediately, so those who want to get a vaccine can get one.”
Bergman also unloaded on the Biden administration for its “mixed messages” regarding the vaccine and getting America back to normal.
“They continue sowing fear and doubt, and they are sending mixed messages on the vaccine and a path forward,” said Bergman. “Michiganders are ready to crush COVID and get back to business, instead of watching other states succeed with more freedoms.”
Rep. Tim Walburg, R-Mich., also blasted the Biden administration for not sending more vaccines to Michigan, calling it a “better approach” than another lockdown.
“After already experiencing an excessive lockdown for most of the year, Michigan residents hope that Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer [finally] realizes that another statewide lockdown would be devastating for Michigan’s economy, harm workers and small businesses, and prevent students from learning in the classroom,” Walburg said in a statement to Fox News.
“A better approach would be to direct more vaccines to Michigan, as the Biden Administration has so far refused to do.”
Walburg led a bipartisan letter to the Biden administration urging it to bolster the Wolverine State’s vaccine supply last week.
Democrats from Michigan gave their thoughts on the CDC’s recommendation as well. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., said in a statement to Fox News that he appreciates the CDC’s guidance for the state “because this explosion of cases and hospitalizations cannot be solved by vaccines alone.”
“I’m actively participating in the Governor’s request to the CDC that they surge more vaccines to Michigan because there’s no question that greater vaccine supply will bolster the efforts Michiganders are taking to social distance, double mask and follow other public health guidelines,” Levin said.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., called on Michiganders to continue practicing good hygiene habits to stop the spread of COVID-19 as the state continues to distribute vaccines and said that he had faith in Whitmer.
“This pandemic is not over. As we continue to distribute vaccines, every Michigander plays a critical role to defeat this virus by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and regularly washing their hands,” said Kildee.
“While our Governor has not issued any mandatory restrictions, she has urged all Michiganders to exercise personal responsibility over the next two weeks to help slow the spread, such as forgoing indoor dining or gathering with people outside your immediate household.”
“I know that Governor Whitmer is committed to protecting public health and saving lives,” Kildee added.
Whitmer’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the CDC’s recommendation to shut her state down again.
The governor told a local outlet on Tuesday that the state would follow the CDC’s and Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) “guidance when it comes to the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine” but that people should “still have high confidence in the safety and efficacy of the J&J vaccine” if the number of people receiving blood clots from the vaccine holds.
“It’s an important added tool in our arsenal to combat COVID. This is concerning,” Whitmer said. “Of course, I’m going to continue to push for more vaccines to come into Michigan, but at this point, I don’t know that there is a whole lot more we can say other than we’re going to closely monitor and follow the CDC and FDA guidance.”
The CDC director said diverting vaccines to Michigan from places where the virus isn’t as prevalent could accidentally lay the groundwork for an outbreak in that area.
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled last year that Whitmer’s emergency declaration without state legislature approval was unconstitutional under the 1976 Emergency Management Act.
Whitmer faced scrutiny last week after a top aide, Tricia Foster, vacationed in Florida, despite the governor’s cautions against traveling outside of the state. A Whitmer spokesperson defended Foster’s travels, saying she “is fully recovered from COVID and fully vaccinated.”
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report