The Mackinac Center for Public Policy joined with media leaders and groups across the state to call for increased transparency from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. In an open letter spearheaded by the Michigan Press Association, the coalition expressed the need for timely and consistent information on information about COVID-19 outbreaks in schools.
The letter points out that health departments at both the state and local level have failed to provide essential details regarding COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. As more Michigan students return to in-person instruction in the coming weeks, it’s critical for parents and the public to have accurate and up to date information regarding outbreaks.
As the letter states:
“Respectfully, school-related COVID outbreak information belongs to the taxpayers who pay for it, especially parents with school aged children. It is the duty of state and local health departments to protect public health. This includes the duty to inform the public of health risks transparently, rapidly, and fully — including the existence of COVID outbreaks in schools at the beginning of this very challenging school year.”
While many media outlets have tried to obtain this information through Freedom of Information Act requests, they face obstacles from the state, often resulting in lengthy delays. In the past few weeks, the public has learned significantly more about school outbreaks from word of mouth and social media than through anything officially released by state or county officials.
Hours after the letter was sent, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service announced that it will report the name and location of schools where outbreaks occur, as well as the number of active cases at each school. This is a positive step forward, but additional transparency is needed. Families deserve transparent and timely information about these outbreaks.
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