With public hearings in Kent and Ottawa counties lasting for hours over the use of masks in schools, public health officials say the debate has gotten out of hand.
“It’s a constant threat of violence,” said Linda Vail, the chief medical officer in Ingham County.
Vail is one of many appointed public health officials to receive threats of violence. She’s had intimidating letters sent to her home, and says she fears going out in public with her grandchildren because of the way she is treated.
Vail isn’t alone. A woman from Grand Blanc was arrested after authorities found what they call a “credible threat” on the life of a public health official in Genesee County.
Vail claims it’s due to the politicizing of the mask debate that it’s gotten so out of hand.
Joined by other public health officials, an organization called Public Health Over Politicians has issued a statement saying another coalition, Unlock Michigan 2, is responsible for creating a dangerous atmosphere.
Ron Armstrong, a spokesperson for Unlock Michigan 2, says those threats are completely unrelated to their coalition, and anyone who makes those threats does not represent their organization or views.
“That is absolutely wrong for anyone to make any kind of a threat against anyone, for any reason, or any decision that they make as a political or a health care official,” Armstrong said. “We absolutely do not condone anything of that sort.”
Armstrong says the goal of Unlock Michigan 2 is to impose a new check and balance to the public health officials. Last year, the original Unlock Michigan petition gained more than 539,000 signatures in 80 days. It was aimed at removing the governor’s ability to make sweeping emergency orders, and eventually played a role in the repeal of the 1945 Emergency Powers Act.
Armstrong says public health officials have been instructed by the state to issue mandates, but could not provide any evidence of this.