Breaking: Entire Michigan congressional delegation sends letter asking Pence to grant emergency COVID-19 supplies

By: - March 26, 2020 8:57 am

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Michigan’s 16-member congressional delegation has written a joint letter to Vice President Mike Pence, urging him to immediately approve the state’s pending requests for critical COVID-19 supplies.

Pence is the point person for the President Trump administration’s response to COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus.

The letter obtained by the Advance, which was sent Wednesday, is signed by U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), along with U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Dan Kildee (D-Flint), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden Twp.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

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The delegation also had a call with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer late Wednesday to discuss the contents.

“Michigan now has 2,295 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the 6th most of any state. Today alone Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services confirmed 507 new cases. Tragically, as of the writing of this letter, 43 of our constituents have lost their lives to the virus,” the joint letter reads.

The members of Congress go on to write that while Michigan has taken “decisive action” to limit the outbreak and many companies and constituents are doing what they can, it is not enough and Michigan is in dire need of federal assistance.

“Michigan has received two allocations of PPE [personal protective equipment] from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). These shipments are well short of the requests and we believe inadequate given the circumstances. On March 19, Michigan requested 200,000 swabs from the SNS that to date have not been received.

“Your assistance and engagement are urgently needed to assist the State of Michigan and its health care providers in order to address this challenge,” the letter reads. “…We urge you to immediately approve Michigan’s pending requests for PPE and testing materials to the extent feasible and continue to work with us and the State of Michigan to meet the ongoing supply challenges we face.”

Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said in a statement that the office is working on getting a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declaration for Michigan.

“Our legal team is working urgently with the Michigan State Police to draft a comprehensive request based on our needs to the President to declare a major disaster declaration for Michigan. We have been disappointed to see that while the Trump Administration declared major disasters for a handful of states, the declarations were not accompanied by substantial federal resources,” Brown said.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.