Thursday, October 22, 2020

Students share feelings on Gov. Whitmer's stay home order then vs. now

July 7, 2020
<p>LEFT: Ann Street Plaza on March 25, 2020. East Lansing is largely silent amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Annie Barker</p><p>RIGHT: People walk around during the annual Winter Glow Festival on Dec. 1, 2018, at Ann Street Plaza. The free festival featured carriage rides, music, a holiday farmers market and other seasonal activities. Photo by Sylvia Jarrus</p>

LEFT: Ann Street Plaza on March 25, 2020. East Lansing is largely silent amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Annie Barker

RIGHT: People walk around during the annual Winter Glow Festival on Dec. 1, 2018, at Ann Street Plaza. The free festival featured carriage rides, music, a holiday farmers market and other seasonal activities. Photo by Sylvia Jarrus

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | and Annie Barker The State News

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first announced her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order would be put in place, it felt as though there would be an eventual end to the panic, we would see summer and be able to attend university in the fall freely. Everything felt under control.

However, as businesses slowly started to reopen, people began to go back to work, and luxuries such as restaurant and bar dining were allowed to be utilized again, the state of Michigan started to get antsy.

Now, with 170 cases of COVID-19 stemming from an outbreak at Harper's Brewpub and Restaurant and word of at least 10 cases stemming from a new outbreak at Riverfront Animal Hospital, according to Amanda Darche, public information officer at the ICHD, those dreams of normalcy are on a swift backtrack.

Ingham and its surrounding counties are at the highest health-risk of any Michigan area to spread COVID-19, according to the MI Safe Start Map.

In a response effort, Linda Vail, health officer at the ICHD, released a localized directive June 29 that set a stricter limitation on the amount of people permitted to be in an indoor dining area at one time — 50% or no more than 75 people, whichever is fewer and without exceptions.

Not even two days later, Whitmer announced that she was signing another executive order, in suit of her "MI Safe Start" plan, that would close bar and nightclub indoor services all-around in Phase 4 counties.

Similarly, while restaurants may remain open indoors and outdoors in these areas, alcohol is only to be served to customers who are seated at socially distanced tables or taking it to go for off-premises consumption. Common areas where people can congregate to dance or chat must be closed.

Among Twitter, the hashtag #MaskUpMichigan, has begun to spread as the idea of wearing a face covering, originally recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has either been ignored or argued as a political stance.

Some MSU students had mixed feelings about Whitmer's executive orders, whether from the beginning or as time progressed.

Psychology junior Lucy VanDyke is from Grandville, Michigan. Originally, she said she was onboard with and very supportive of Whitmer's orders.

While she wasn't a fan of being away from college, locked in her parents' house and unable to see friends, she knew something had to be done in order to keep people safe, and Michigan wasn't the only state taking preventative measures.

"For the first six to eight weeks of it, like until the end of April probably, I was definitely staying home, going out as little as possible and wearing a mask if I did have to go out, not hanging out with friends or anything," VanDyke said.

VanDyke has recently started interning at an assisted living facility.

Over the last four months of changes and critiques, Whitmer has made to her original order to keep up with the health-risk COVID-19 imposes, and VanDyke has begun to believe it's getting a little extreme.

"Seeing how depressed the residents are because they can't see their families, they just want to be able to go out and see each other but they can't," she said. "Obviously, we need to have safety measures, sanitization and things like that, but I think there should be more freedom."

She said she has even started giving up on the precautions imposed by health agencies like the CDC and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

"I typically wear a mask in public, and if I'm asked to wear (one) then I'll respect the store's guidelines on that. However, if it's optional, then typically I won't," she said. "(Also), I'll hang out with a couple of my friends, but I haven't really been to any big gatherings."

VanDyke said her family members all hold similar views.

Marketing freshman Hannah Diggs is from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Originally, she said she was shocked at the initial order given by Whitmer. Not because she disagreed, but because she felt the reaction came quite early compared to the rest of the country.

Everything felt so new and unprecedented to Diggs.

"I didn't leave the house, basically, for anything," she said. "I stopped working because I'm not an essential (employee), and I didn't hang out with friends."

And even after four months, she's still OK with Whitmer's work.

"I've seen the effect of when you don't follow rules like that and people's lives are cost," she said. "I, personally, am fine with it and I am still following it. Even though it's exhausting and I don't like the rules, I understand why they're in place and I don't have any issue ... because I know they're not for my safety, they're for the safety of other people more at risk than me."

Diggs said her brother and dad have the exact opposite views as she and her mom. She described the men as very economically-centered, big on needing things to be open and careless.

"If people die, they die," she said is how they feel.

They want the economy back, but are overlooking the cost that could have on the population, whereas she and her mom know they aren't in Whitmer's position for a reason and are choosing to respect the orders.

"We will recover from the economy downturning, just like we did years ago," she said.

Neuroscience junior Jada Archer is from Bay City, Michigan. Originally, she said she was scared, being on campus and having everything shut down abruptly, and unhappy because her freedoms became limited, but she knew it was necessary and that Whitmer had good intentions.

Since the start, Archer thinks that all actions Whitmer takes are impactful; however, she does recognize the public's frustration and how a lot of negativity has arisen from its roots.

"You see a lot people who are like, 'Why me? I can't (do this) and I can't (do that),'" she said. "It's like, you're not the only person that's affected by this. ... It's important to take a step back."

Personally, Archer said she hasn't been following the orders to her fullest capability, admitting to having hung out with a group of her friends when she wasn't technically supposed to. She does wear a mask, though.

Archer said that while some of her family members have been on vacation, blindly exposing themselves to the virus, for the most part her household is very paranoid and doing their best to stay careful.

"They feel that, every time they feel sick, it's COVID-19," she said.

As far as the measures Whitmer took, Diggs also understands why the governor gets so much hatred and why it's so easy to spout that hate, but she wishes people would realize we've never been, and probably will never be, in her position.

"The calls she made, we can't really blame her for, because she's doing the best she can with the information she has," Diggs said. "I think I would rather risk having this recession ... over possibly having thousands of lives cost."

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