CEO group to Michigan leaders: Stop suing over COVID-19 restrictions, unite to fight second wave

A coalition of 32 health care, labor, higher education and business executives called on Michigan political leaders Wednesday to cease litigation over public health orders aimed at mitigating spread of the coronavirus amid a resurgence that’s starting to be felt in some hospitals across the state.

The open letter sent Wednesday to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her two counterparts in the Legislature — Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield — urges “collective action” to prevent additional deaths from COVID-19.

Signers of the letter include the top executives at Barton Malow, Dow Inc., DTE Energy Co., General Motors Co., Herman Miller, Lear Corp., Meijer Inc., Rocket Companies Inc., Steelcase, TCF Financial Corp. and the United Auto Workers.

The letter comes nearly three weeks after the Michigan Supreme Court upended Whitmer’s management of the public health crisis, invalidating a law she used to issue broad executive orders without input from the Legislature.

The group of CEOs of major corporations, public universities and hospital systems effectively called for a legal cease fire, asking that public health and workplace safety orders issued by the Whitmer administration be allowed to stand without challenge in court or by legislation.

“On the cusp of a second wave, Michigan needs clearly defined mandatory standards which govern mask usage, workplace practices, public gatherings and certain social activities,” the executives wrote. “The orders recently issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and (Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are sufficient to play this role. We should now focus on deploying them with discipline.”

The call for keeping current state orders in place delivered to GOP legislative leaders one day after a group of House Republicans proposed letting counties loosen state-level COVID-19 restrictions when coronavirus cases have declined for at least 14 consecutive days.

The letter framed Michigan’s ongoing battle with the pandemic as critical to the long-term health of the economy and education of 1.5 million school-aged children.

“Many of our children, especially the poorest, are not thriving in a virtual learning world — and many parents are struggling to balance the demands of work and virtual schooling,” the letter says. “But we can only get more of these children the in-person schooling they deserve if we show the discipline needed to quell the surge in coronavirus cases and drive down spread in the months ahead. That is something for which we should all be willing to fight.”

The letter notes coronavirus case data since July shows the fatality rate among individuals over age 80 who contract COVID-19 is 20 percent.

People in their 70s face an 8 percent fatality rate, while younger individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as obesity and diabetes face higher odds of dying if they contract COVID-19, according to the letter.

“The high fatality rates in these groups mean that if the recent surge deeply penetrates their ranks, thousands will die before their time,” the executives wrote. “The job of the rest of us is to rally to protect them by suppressing the spread of the virus. In doing that, all of us will minimize our own risk of other secondary health issues. … That said, we don’t need to resort to language that implies that the coronavirus is an equally grave risk to everyone — it is not.”

The business, health care, education and labor leaders who signed the letter praised the Democratic governor and GOP-controlled Legislture for working together to extend unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks and extending “common-sense liability protections” to employers.

Executives who signed the letter also are core members of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council formed in the spring to give Whitmer guidance on reopening the economy.

The MERC group is co-chaired by DTE Energy Executive Chairman Gerry Anderson and Nancy Schlichting, the retired CEO of Henry Ford Health System. They signed the letter, along with the presidents of Michigan State University, Oakland University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

Whitmer said Wednesday she’s “grateful” for the group’s letter supporting the current public health and workplace safety orders.

“They’ve helped inform a lot of the decisions I’ve had to make,” Whitmer said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Lansing.

In an interview Wednesday with Crain’s, Anderson said further “dissension and divisiveness” over mask-wearing and reducing capacities of public-facing businesses won’t help stave off further spread of the coronavirus and potential deaths.

“It’s fair to say litigating and debating is not productive right now,” Anderson said.

Some Republican lawmakers have resisted a continued statewide mask mandate from MDHHS Director Robert Gordon and MIOSHA’s emergency, six-month workplace safety rules for COVID-19, which requires employers to let office-based employees work from home “to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”

On Monday, Shirkey slammed the MIOSHA rules and said the state health department orders limiting restaurant and retail store occupancies to 50 percent go “outside of the public health code.”

“That is an example, in my mind, of people making decisions for other people, forcing upon them, and not following with any kind of explanation or logic,” Shirkey said on a Jackson cable television show. “And it comes across as vindictive, it comes across as dictatorial, whatever word you want to use. Instead of helping train people to do the right thing.”

Shirkey said both orders from MDHHS and MIOSHA are “outside” of their legal boundaries.

“It was no different than (Whitmer) stretching outside her lanes and executive orders originally,” he said. “They keep pressing the limits.”

Shirkey said Monday that he believes mask-wearing is not as effective as social distancing and hand-washing.

The Senate majority leader’s resistance comes as coronavirus cases in his home county have lead to a rise in hospitalizations at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, where Shirkey once chaired the board.

As of Tuesday night, Henry Ford Health System had 150 COVID-19 patients across its system, 45 of whom were hospitalized in the Jackson hospital, HFHS CEO Wright Lassiter III said Wednesday.

Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township has the most COVID-19 patients within the system, with 64 as of Tuesday evening, meaning 73 percent of the system’s patients are in the Macomb and Jackson county hospitals, Lassiter said.

“It’s starting to put strain and pressure on those facilities,” Lassiter said in an interivew.

On Wednesday, statewide hospitalizations for COVID-positive patients statewide had risen to 987, a 26 percent increase from a week ago. The majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations are outside of Southeast Michigan, rising 32 percent over the past seven days, a Crain’s analysis shows.

Lassiter, who also signed the letter to the state’s political leaders, also addressed Shirkey’s call for “a bit of herd immunity,” allowing letting the coronavirus spread uncontrolled to build up immunity across the state’s population of 10 million people. Public health experts have estimated this strategy would lead to another 30,000 deaths; at least 7,053 Michigan residents have died of COVID-19 since mid-March.

“There is scientific consensus that herd immunity is not an effective strategy for the virus,” Lassister told Crain’s. “… The virulence of this virus is such that that is not a prudent approach.”

Lassiter added: “With all due respect to any elected officials who I presume believe they’re trying to do the right thing on behalf of their constituency, herd immunity is not an effective strategy and it should not be preferred over the public health measures that have been in put in place in the state of Michigan over the last several months.”

At Wednesday’s news conference, Whitmer called a herd immunity strategy a “dangerous idea” and a “philosophy that is inhumane.”

“A much better alternative to herd immunity would be to control the spread of the coronavirus,” the governor said.

Timeline of Trump Admin & HOIS

<THREAD> Consider how much foreign interference and – let’s just say it – treason has been revealed in the last eight weeks alone.

Here’s a timeline. (Eric Garland)

Some events speak for themselves, others portend future revelations.

7/18 Epstein remanded to custody at Rikers awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

7/23 Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s Turkish business partner Bijan Kian convicted at EDVA for working on behalf of Turkey without registering.

7/23 DIRFBI Wray testifies that China is America’s greatest counterintelligence threat, especially when it comes to economic espionage.

7/24 Robert S. Mueller III testifies for hours before House Judiciary and House Intel committees.

7/25 Epstein found injured in cell at Rikers.

7/25 Governor of Puerto Rico, Julio Ricardo Varela, announces his resignation.

7/25 Major Trump lobbyist and fundraiser Brian Ballard and former Florida AG Pam Bondi register FARA for Qatar.

7/25 L Brands (Victoria’s Secret, etc.) CEO Les Wexner retains law firm to “review” relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

7/25 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence publishes report on full scale of Russian attacks on United States election infrastructure.

7/25 Federal Trade Commission files Complaint against Cambridge Analytica.

7/25 House Oversight votes to obtain private communications from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

7/26 Pilots for Jeffrey Epstein subpoenaed.

7/26 IRS sends letters to 10,000 holders of cryptocurrencies about potential violations.

7/26 Rep Martha Roby (R-AL) announces retirement.

7/27 Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) opposes additional funding for House Oversight, of which he is Ranking Member.

7/28 Coats resigning soon as DNI, John Ratcliffe suggested as replacement. Ratcliffe was made US Attorney for EDTX by Michael Mukasey, unregistered FARA agent for Turkey (money laundering and black ops against Fetullah Gulen) …and Prevezon, the firm represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya – present at June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting – accused of laundering the theft of Bill Browder’s tax money to Russia, for which Sergei Magnitsky was murdered.

Ratcliffe left the US Attorney’s office to join FARA agent for Qatar and Malaysia John Ashcroft’s law firm, alongside Trump spokesman and Nigerian FARA agent Mark Corallo.

7/28 NYT reports that Trump partner Tom Barrack is under investigation for helping Saudi Arabia and UAE to influence U.S. nuclear policy toward the Middle East, as well as changing the GOP 2016 platform to keeping pages related to Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11 attacks classified.

UAE suggested edits to Trump’s 2016 “America First” policy speech through Barrack and campaign chair Paul Manafort.

7/29 Trump signs 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Bill.

7/29 Rep. Cummings releases House Oversight documents about corporate and foreign attempts to influence U.S. nuclear policy toward Saudi Arabia.

IP3 International and Barrack’s Colony Capital collaborated with (Kushner funder) Leon Black’s Apollo and Trump donor Steve Scharzman’s Blackstone to acquire Westinghouse in order to nuclearize the Middle East without requiring a pledge to keep from making nuclear weapons.

7/30 Republican election fraud in North Carolina (NC-09) ends in multiple indictments.

7/30 Judge at SDNY dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump, Russia, et al. with prejudice because foreign powers cannot be sued in civil court.

7/31 Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission announces investigation into casinos, Chinese organized crime, and Chinese intelligence service influence Ops in Australia.

7/31 Chinese billionaire indicted by US Attorney’s Office CDCA, faces 465 years in prison for money laundering, scheme to smuggle aluminum into the United States.

7/31 Trump calls Putin to discuss helping to fight Siberian “wildfires.” White House offers no readout; Kremlin readout says Trump promised a return to fully bilateral Russian-American diplomatic relations.

7/31 FVEY intelligence alliance announces inititiative to hold tech firms accountable for global child rape trade.

8/1 New York Attorney General announces one-year change in law starting August 14 allowing victims to report sex crimes irrespective of when they occurred.

8/1 Boris Johnson ally Sir Lynton Crosby revealed to be behind Facebook disinformation campaigns, not just for Brexit, but for Saudi Arabia and Malaysia as well.

8/2 John Ratcliffe removes name for consideration as Director of National Intelligence.

8/2 US pulls out of Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

8/6 Jon Huntsman resigns as U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

8/6 Reps. Nadler and Johnson request that National Archives release records related to Brett Kavanaugh’s White House service from 2001-2006.

8/7 Australian and New Zealand announce partnership with NATO.

8/10 Jeffrey Epstein dead from apparent suicide in jail cell at Rikers.

8/12 Russia reports explosion of nuclear reactor in White Sea.

8/12 Melania Trump friend Stephanie Wilson Wolkoff hands over documents about her $35 million work on the Trump inauguration to DC Attorney General.

8/12 ODNI complaint filed over urgent matter that needs to reach Congressional committees.

8/14 Former president of Colombia Andres Pastrana claims Jeffrey Epstein traveled to Cuba at the invitation of Fidel Castro in 2003.

8/15 Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopoulos accuses General Electric of financial fraud bigger than Enron’s.

8/15 Dan Coats resigns as DNI.

8/16 John Fry, indicted ex-employee of IRS-Criminal Investigation, pleads guilty for transmitting classified Suspicious Activity Reports about Michael Cohen to Michael Avenatti, who trafficked them to Buzzfeed.

8/23 Deutsche Bank settles with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over nepotistic hiring of children of Russian and Chinese elites into positions for which they did not have requisite skills.

8/25 Trump mentions buying Greenland from Denmark without mentioning that China had been seeking to purchase similar plots of land for fossil fuel development.

8/26 FEC vice chair Matt Petersen resigns, leaving only three commissioners, depriving it of the quorum it needs for votes.

8/27 Third-most powerful Vatican official, Cardinal George Pell, found guilty of child rape.

8/28 Boris Johnson threatens to prorogue UK Parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit at all costs.

8/28 Hong Kong-Los Angeles undersea data cable project backed by Facebook, Google, and a Chinese partner potentially blocked for national security reasons.

8/28 Ecuadorian government levels corruption charges at former president Rafael Correa, who offered Julian Assange diplomatic asylum in London.

8/29 Jeffrey Epstein’s attorney engages same criminal defense firm as Harvey Weinstein and Martin Shkreli.

8/30 DC super lobbyist Vin Weber resigns from Mercury Public Affairs after Rick Gates’ testimony at Greg Craig’s trial claims that Weber knew Putin-connected Ukrainian non-profit for which Paul Manafort worked was a front for Russia.

8/30 Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) announces retirement from Congress.

8/30 Trump shares classified satellite imagery over Iranian missile launch on his personal Twitter.

9/3 Boris Johnson loses majority in Parliament.

9/3 State attorneys general and DOJ investigate Google for antitrust.

9/4 Senate examined Russian-owned American Ethane details with China.

9/4 Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) announces retirement.

9/5 Australia’s ASIO intelligence agency declares foreign interference and espionage a great security threat than terrorism.

9/9 House committees investigating Rudy Giuliani attempt to get Ukraine to influence US elections.

9/10 APNSA John Bolton resigns.

9/12 House Judiciary approves new investigative powers in impeachment inquiry.

9/13 UK rebuffs Hong Kong’s attempt to acquire London Stock Exchange.

9/14 Canada announces RCMP intelligence official arrested on national security offenses tied to US investigation.

9/14 Drone strikes at Saudi oil fields as Saudi Aramco prepares IPO.

9/15 Australia concludes China hacked its Parliament.

9/16 Massive Russian breach of FBI communications at the highest level revealed; hacks data back to 2010.

9/16 Russia offers missile defenses to Saudi Arabia 9/18 Benjamin Netanyahu fails to maintain majority in Israeli Knesset.

That’s a shallow view of the last 2 months. This is crazy.

Cohen

Michael Cohen has agreed to cooperate in an investigation into whether the Trump Organization falsified business records, a source familiar with the situation told NBC News.

Cohen signed a proffer agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which is investigating the Trump Organization, the source said. The agreement stipulates that he will cooperate with the office in its investigation. https://www.cnbc.com/…/michael-cohen-cooperating-in…

Trump

Here’s what is publicly known about this mystery debt: On the personal financial disclosure forms that Trump must file each year as president, he has divulged that he owes “over $50 million” to a company called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. The forms note that this entity is fully owned by Trump. In other words,Trump owes a large chunk of money to a company he controls. https://www.motherjones.com/…/donald-trump-has-never…/

Germany

 Instead, those interested in promoting liberal and democratic societies should shift the discourse away from the radical-right playbook. Politicians should stand up against the racism, sexism and homophobia promoted by these parties and should emphasize how these parties fail to provide solutions to the pressing policy questions of our time. In the long term, parties must address the increasing inequalities produced by the socioeconomic transformations of our time — inequalities that will not be solved by adopting policies from the radical right. https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/why-germany-europe…/