National Guard aids Sparrow Hospital Wednesday as ‘traffic jam’ protest planned against Whitmer

By: and - April 14, 2020 6:07 pm

Sparrow Hospital, Lansing | Susan J. Demas

The Michigan National Guard is providing aid to Sparrow Hospital, putting up a COVID-19 screening tent on Wednesday for patients entering the building.

Sparrow had smaller shelters used for screening, but members of the 110th Civil Engineering Squadron, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base were requested through the City of Lansing Office of Emergency Management and the State Emergency Operations Center to help Sparrow.

“The Michigan National Guard is able to support state and local agencies with numerous professional capabilities when called upon,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “We are proud to assist our neighbors during this statewide response to COVID-19.” 

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The tent will be used to intercept the spread of COVID-19 by screening walk-in and ambulance patients. Using a controlled environment, the hospital can make the building safer before patients can go through the door.

Members of the Michigan National Guard have been serving the state since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month called up guard members, such as in setting up the field hospital at the TCF Center in Detroit. All over the state, guard members are helping with medical screenings, constructing care facilities and aiding in logistics.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Michigan has more than 27,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths. Michigan has the fourth-most cases in the country, behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Whitmer last week extended and strengthened Michigan’s stay home order through April 30, something GOP legislative leaders have blasted. They have joined groups such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in calling for many businesses reopening sooner to restart the economy.

On Wednesday, roads near Sparrow Hospital may be blocked by cars of conservative activists coming to the Capitol for an event called “Operation Gridlock.” The event is organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the DeVos-funded Michigan Freedom Fund is listed as a host.

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About 4,000 people on Facebook said they’re planning to cause a “traffic jam” on the roads around the Capitol building in a protest of Whitmer’s stay home order, even though traffic is light with only essential businesses like hospitals, grocery stores and gas stations currently open. Protesters said they will be bringing signs and honking horns. Another 16,500 said they are interested in coming.

A Sparrow spokesperson said Monday that the hospital expects little impact from what they hear from first responders and the police. 

Whitmer said on Monday she understands people may be frustrated about the stay home order, which went into effect on March 24. 

“If it makes you feel better to direct it at me, that’s OK, too,” she said. “I’ve got thick skin.”

Polling taken April 6 to 8 from the progressive Center for American Progress showed 71% of Michigan voters approve of how Whitmer is handling the COVID-19 crisis and 29% disapprove. 

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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols is a former Michigan Advance intern. She is a Michigan State University graduate who has reported for several publications, including MLive and Michigan State University’s award-winning student paper, the State News, where she covered the many tendrils of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 22-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ+ people, the state budget, the economy and more. She previously served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 90 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 5,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 80 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two kids along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.