Believe it or Not: Things you need to know about Tom Barrett, Michigan Republican Who Opposed Governor’s COVID-19 Orders.
Facts about Tom Barrett, Michigan Republican Who Opposed Governor’s COVID-19 Orders:
om Barrett is a Republican state senator from Michigan, who was vocally opposed to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus safety restrictions and tested positive for the virus on Aug. 2.
Barrett is a member of the Michigan Army National Guard, according to his website, and he was tested in advance of a training event.
“Despite taking reasonable precautions, I was notified this afternoon that I tested positive during a routine screening on Friday, July 31,” Barrett said in a statement, WILX reported.
The state senator’s diagnosis came as Whitmer tightened virus-related restrictions statewide that week — restrictions Barrett had been a vocal critic of. He even sponsored a bill in hopes of curbing Whitmer’s ability to continue a declared state of emergency, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Barrett Says He Has ‘No Significant Symptoms,’ But Will be Self-Isolating for a Time
In his statement to the press, Barrett said, “Thankfully, I do not have any significant symptoms at this time and I will be self-isolating, according to medical guidelines.”
“I have done my best to make contact with those I have been around in the past couple weeks so that they may also seek medical advice,” he continued. “I look forward to resuming my normal work schedule as quickly as possible.”
Barrett was seen on camera wearing a mask during several recent legislative sessions, despite his critiques of Whitmer’s coronavirus response as an example of overreach, local ABC affiliate WOOD TV reported.
Barrett told the Detroit Free Press that his diagnosis hadn’t changed his mind on state restrictions during the pandemic: “How we govern our state is not something that should change based on someone’s unique circumstances like mine,” he said.
He marks the third Michigan lawmaker with a confirmed case of coronavirus, according to WOOD TV.
2. The State Legislature Cancelled Its Sessions for the Week After Barrett Announced His Diagnosis
The Legislature announced Monday that all business would be canceled after Barrett went public with his positive test result, the Washington Post reported.
There was a vote scheduled for Thursday and committee hearings for Wednesday and Thursday, the outlet reported.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has been on Barrett’s side in pressuring Whitmer to ease restrictions and allow businesses in the state to open.
“We stayed home from work, from school and from church,” Shirkey said in a video he posted to Twitter on July 31. “Michganders did all this because we understood the goal: to protect our loved ones and ensure workers on the front lines could help critically ill patients when needed. That was over four months ago. Cases are down, hospitalizations are down, deaths are down and the curve has been flattened. Yet our governor … insists that Michigan is still in a state of emergency.”
In a statement, Shirkey wished Barrett a “speedy recovery” and said the senate would “evaluate the need for changes to the legislative calendar in the coming days.”
3. Barrett Sponsored a Bill Trying to Curb Gov. Whitmer’s Ability to Declare Michigan in a State of Emergency
Whitmer signed an executive order in late April extending her emergency powers in face of the pandemic, after she was unable to get legislation through the Republican-controlled legislature, the Hill reported.
“By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk,” Whitmer said.
Barrett, Shirkey and other GOP lawmakers in Michigan co-sponsored a bill trying to curb her powers, but she vetoed it on May 5.
A petition to end Whitmer’s state of emergency by repealing the decades-old law behind it has been circulated by the Republican-backed group Unlock Michigan since her May veto. Shirkey supports the petition, the Free Press reported.
Unlock Michigan still has volunteers out in force collecting signatures in hope of submitting the petition for passage by the GOP-controlled legislature, according to the group’s Facebook page.
4. There Are 2 Democratic Legislators Who Have Been Diagnosed with COVID-19; Barrett Is the 1st Republican
Barrett is the first GOP state senator in Michigan to be diagnosed with coronavirus, according to Michigan Live.
Democratic Reps. Karen Whitsett and Tyrone Carter, both of Detroit, tested positive in April, and both recovered, the outlet reported.
Whitsett was criticized, then censured by her caucus, after she went to the White House and met with President Donald Trump to discuss her recovery, Detroit News reported. Whitsett credited the controversial anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine with saving her life, a Democratic leader told the paper.
Rep. Isaac Robinson, also of Detroit, died in March at age 44. It’s unknown whether he had coronavirus, but family members told media outlets that he died of a COVID-19 related respiratory illness, Hour Detroit reported.
5. Michigan Reported 426 New Coronavirus Cases Sunday & New Restrictions Went Into Place Last Week
As of Sunday, Aug. 2, coronavirus cases in Michigan climbed to 82,782, with 426 new cases reported over a week, Click on Detroit reported. The state has seen 6,206 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Whitmer told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on July 31 that she would be tightening restrictions in the state in order to “nip this in the bud.”
“If we want to have any shot of getting our kids back in schools safely in four weeks, our actions today are going to dictate whether or not that’s possible,” she said. “That’s why we have to tighten things up now.”
Whitmer added that since the state eased some restrictions two months ago, numbers had begun to climb again and some citizens were being “lax” about precautionary measures. New indoor gathering caps and closures on some bars were reinstated “so we don’t have to contemplate going back to a shutdown or back a phase in our re-engagement plan,” she said, according to the Detroit News.
Heavy reached out to Whitmer’s office for comment on Barrett’s diagnosis and the Unlock Michigan petition, but had not heard back as of Monday evening.