Do as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says, or as Henry Ford health care workers do?
Whitmer has declared it permissible to allow gatherings of up to 250 people outdoors in Michigan providing they observe the six-foot distancing rule. It’s my understanding the rule is based on sound medical knowledge and insight on how best to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Walking past the Lafayette Greens Urban Garden on Lafayette and Shelby in downtown Detroit the other night I spied a cocktail party on a terrace. It’s great seeing people out and about again, but these partiers weren’t social distancing or wearing masks. These folks are tempting a visit to Henry Ford, I thought.
I got that right. Some were from Henry Ford’s Otolaryngology Department, which deals with conditions of the head and neck. They were toasting someone who completed a fellowship. Otolaryngologists are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 via close contact with ears, noses, and throats.
David Olejarz, manager of media relations for the Henry Ford Health System, said the party was not sanctioned by the hospital.
"We are not currently hosting or sanctioning any public gatherings," he said in an email. "This was a private, off-campus, outdoor event planned by some of our staff members to celebrate with families and close friends. We have a universal mask policy and social distancing in place at all of our facilities. Additionally, our employees are screened daily and we have maintained priority testing for team members."
It should be noted that researchers estimate the rate of asymptomatic infection is at least 30 percent.
Health care workers have been heroes in this battle. I totally appreciate it. Everyone else does, too. They certainly deserve a night out, having a cocktail, yukking it up, celebrating goodness.
But there’s already too much popular resistance to social distancing and wearing masks. If health care workers are seen defying Whitmer’s edict, it can only fan more opposition.