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SBAM Statement on the Issue of ‘Shelter in Place’

March 22, 2020

Statement from SBAM President Brian Calley:

“Everyone can agree that the most important thing we can do for our people is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ‘flatten the curve.’ It is also important that the public health response not jeopardize the health and well-being of the population in ways that add to the dangers our society already faces.

“A broad ‘shelter in place’ order will have unintended consequences. Identifying ‘essential services’ is not as easy as government officials may think. Just keeping the food supply effectively operating under the best of circumstances requires thousands of economic activities that span the globe to work efficiently. It is not likely that the state could anticipate and exempt all the economic activities required to keep the shelves stocked. This is especially likely to be problematic considering the substantial and immediate increase in demand such an order would cause on an already stressed system.

“Further, there are many businesses that can operate with little or no risk of spreading infection. Other activities, if not given a reasonable lead time, will experience severe economic devastation that will reduce their viability. The actions taken today will impact the future recovery, and therefore the resources that the state has available to support the health and well-being of Michiganders for years to come.

“To be clear, if the Governor decides that a broad shelter in place order is required, and that all other options available to her will cause more harm than such an order is sure to cause, we will recommend widespread compliance. But we urge a reasonable lead time to prepare for the devastation such an order is guaranteed to cause.”

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