January 23, 2021
By Mike Kruzman / firstname.lastname@example.org
A local lawmaker’s online office hours were dominated by vaccine talk, with a side of student mental health and election controversy.
Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township hosted her monthly office hours event online, Friday. She was joined by Livingston County Health Department Director Diane McCormick, and Medical Director Dr. Juan Marquez.
Dr. Marquez said that while we aren’t at the low case and positivity rates we were at in the summer, the numbers are coming down from our mid-November high. He commended the schools for largely being able to stay open with minimal outbreaks and no widespread transmission within them or on bus transportation.
McCormick tackled the vaccine questions that are on more and more minds. To date, Livingston County has received 2,300 first doses, and has just received a shipment of 1,300 second doses. McCormick said the information coming down to them is makes it difficult to plan in advance, with not knowing how many they are getting until they are nearly on the way. They just learned that their allotment next week will be 700 doses, when they requested 3,000.
McCormick said there are approximately 35,000 to 40,000 older residents eligible to get the vaccine in Livingston County, but they just aren’t getting the doses. She pointed out this is a problem everywhere, though, across Michigan and the country.
McCormick said they are continuing to forge relationships with local partners like St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Meijer. She shared optimism for Meijer’s efforts at preparing, believing they will be able to handle mass vaccination clinics when supply allows at all 3 Livingston County locations. McCormick was also hopeful for 2 one-dose vaccines that are working their way through the pipeline- one from Johnson & Johnson, and one from AstraZenica, that could be ready by March. She encouraged those interested to fill out the health department’s Vaccine Interest form on their website. Those unable to access it can call 2-1-1 and an operator can access the site and will fill out the information for you. As they receive shipments, the health department will randomly draw names from those in an eligible phase and contact them for a vaccine appointment.
Theis also took questions about student sports and why some aren’t being allowed to compete. Theis said she understands the disease is dangerous, but that they also need to recognize that it affects different groups differently. She said students are losing scholarship opportunities that they and their families may be depending on because high schools in Michigan aren’t being allowed to compete athletically to the extent that they are in other states.
Theis also fielded a question from Judy Daubenmier, who chairs the Livingston County Democratic Party. Daubenmier asked, “Given the violent insurrection in our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, are you willing to state that Joe Biden was fairly elected president on Nov. 3 an(d) that he is the legitimate president of the United States and will you make that statement to your supporters.”
To that, Theis responded, “Joe Biden has been sworn in, is president of the United States. There’s no argument about that. My realm of influence is with the oversight committee. I’ve spent over 20 hours in reviewing oversight. I’ve spent between 60 and 80 hours reviewing other documentation associated in Michigan. I can tell you what I saw in Michigan. I can’t tell you what I happened in the rest of the country. So, to simply dismiss everyone’s concerns and pat them on the head and tell them ‘It’s okay, trust me, everything went fine, it’s the best that ever happened…’ That’s not fair to them. It’s absolutely essential we take a look at this, and that we take a look at the election process from stem to stern and make sure everything is being done that can possibly be done. It’s not like election integrity hasn’t been an issue historically. It always has. Our Lt. Gov. ran on integrity, Janice Winfrey ran on integrity. It’s not new, it’s something that needs to happen and something that should be addressed. It’s something that should have been addressed a while ago. That we’re looking at it closely right now is a wonderful thing, and to the extent that it helps people feel much more comfortable with the process when we’re able to come out with the answers to the questions, then I think that absolutely ought to happen.”
Another participant asked her to justify signing a letter urging Congress to not certify the electoral college votes from Michigan. Theis said that was wrong and that she did not sign such a letter. She said, “the letter I signed informed Congress that we asked for an audit prior to the electors being certified that did not happen.”