I have potentially been exposed to COVID-19. Now I have to self-quarantine. And it makes me frustrated that more isn't being done.
My purpose here is to share why I think more needs to be done, and to urge you to contact your representatives and ask them to protect us now.
I have heard many similar anecdotes in past days, but I will share mine.
I attended an event on March 15th. For days leading up to it, I pleaded with the event coordinators to cancel. While precautions were taken, they still held the event in contradiction with the then current state recommendations.
I had previously been asked to assist, so despite my reservations, I attended explicitly for the purpose of trying to keep people safe. I did just that. I helped clean surfaces, removed items that would lead people to congregate together, and spoke to many about the importance of social distancing.
We later learned that one of the people who regularly attends these events tested positive and is now in the ICU. Holding this event was a mistake. It may prove to lead to the infection of many others and further spread of the virus.
This is a perfect illustration of why our government has a duty to protect its citizens from the poor choices of others when the consequences of those actions are so dire.
If someone wants to be irresponsible and not wear a motorcycle helmet, the potential harm is only to themselves, and perhaps those close to them.
Yet if someone has Coronavirus symptoms and acts irresponsibly and goes out, or if businesses and events will not close to protect people from those who are not yet showing symptoms, it can lead to a chain reaction of illness and death.
This is why I am so frustrated with our government. It has been clear for some time that quick, decisive, early, and firm action is necessary to prevent infection, flatten the curve, and save lives.
What is happening was completely predictable, both from earlier diseases going as far back as the 1918 Flu, to just looking at what was already happening in Europe and Asia. We could clearly see what works and what doesn't, and the consequences for each path.
Yet our leaders at the city, county, state, and federal levels have all been slow to act, continue to fight turf wars, and send mixed messages. I see administrators and politicians unwilling to take their own initiative to save lives and instead look for political cover from the next level up to avoid being the source of unpopular decisions.
It is no wonder, then, that our businesses and civic leaders make the wrong choices when left on their own, and why many in the community are still in denial of the severity of this situation.
I feel the following actions must be taken immediately:
- Close all non-essential businesses and services.
- Whenever possible, essential businesses should be drive up only.
- People not performing essential roles should be required to remain at home, although essential travel and walks in neighborhoods and open spaces should be permissible with proper social distancing.
Please ask your representatives to take these steps.
I know this is scary. I know the economic harm these steps will cause. But the experiment is already running. If we don't act, we'll be able to look back at the states that took earlier and more drastic actions and compare and see how many lives were unnecessarily lost in Michigan.
For me, my family is without symptoms. We have no underlying conditions. We have a strong support network and are well supplied. I am not concerned for us, but I am concerned for our vulnerable populations for whom these choices could mean life or death.
Dennis S. Hennen
Berkley City Council
March 23rd Addendum to clear up misconceptions:
- I attended to try and protect those I love and care for from doing even more stupid things. I was partially successful. It was a difficult decision but ultimately came down to trying to save lives. Yes, this appears hypocritical.
- I practiced social distancing and hand hygiene at the event.
- My wife, my only family member, chose to attend despite my recommendation.
- My wife and I have been in quarantine since the event so we have put no one at risk. This quarantine was simply a result of doing what I advocate - staying home.
- I did not learn about the positive COVID-19 case until 4 days after the event. All in attendance were notified at that time. Our quarantine is now imperative.
- I did not post until 3 days later to ensure I was not making a post based on my emotions.
- At this time my wife and I show no symptoms.
- I do not do this for pity or publicity. I do it to try and use what small bully pulpit I have to save lives, even if it is an unpopular stand and costs me re-election.
- Serving Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, and Troy.
- Serving Berkley, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, and Royal Oak Township.
County Commissioner Woodward
The city does not have the authority to take the actions I recommend, but they can pass a resolution to urge the higher levels of government to use their authority.
Berkley City Council
- email@example.com (includes the Mayor)