Hank Cetola is a Professor Emeritus at Adrian College and the founder of Lenawee Indivisible. Here is his recent column.

Have you read about the three-tiered plan to reopen the state (http://gophouse.org/michigans-comeback-roadmap/) that Michigan Rep. Bronna Kahle and her Republican colleagues have presented? I realize that the economy is hurting, but this approach seems inadequate, premature and makes some assumptions that do not exist, such as the availability of tests and the ability to use contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus. Additionally, some of it seems quite illogical.

The virus does not recognize county lines nor will people from closed counties stop at the county line. So far, we in Lenawee County have a relatively low rate of positive cases (77) compared to surrounding counties. And, as I write this, we have had one death and our healthcare facilities are not overloaded. According to the “Comeback Roadmap,” it looks as if our county would be Tier 3-Standard Risk. Great news for people living in the surrounding counties, especially Washtenaw (912 cases, 40 deaths) at best Tier 2-Heightened Risk, because if their restaurants and movie theaters are closed, they can come to Lenawee county for a dinner and movie and potentially bring the virus with them.

Next, looking at counties that have a low number of cases and deaths to determine which tier they are in is problematic. All counties started with a low number of cases and no deaths. But, look what happened to Hillsdale County which three weeks ago would have been Tier 3 with only 19 cases. As of April 22, it has 97 cases and 12 deaths with the Stay Home, Stay Safe order in place. I can’t imagine what the number of cases and deaths would have been if this roadmap had been in place three weeks ago. The same could happen to other Tier 3 counties.

I do not understand why our representatives did not follow the very conservative American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) roadmap for reopening (https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/National-Coronavirus-Response-a-Road-Map-to-Recovering-2.pdf) that I sent to Rep. Kahle. Their phased-in approach makes much more sense because of one important piece of data: “The trigger for issuing a recommendation to step down from a stay-at-home-advisory back to ‘slow the spread’ [Phase 1] is when the number of new cases reported in a state has declined steadily for 14 days (i.e., one incubation period) and the jurisdiction is able to test everyone seeking care for COVID-19 symptoms.” And, Phase 1 still requires “Closing community gathering spaces such as schools, shopping centers, dining areas, museums, and gyms statewide.”

Although I rarely agree with President Trump, his three-phase approach makes much more sense. (https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6840739/Guidelines-PDF.pdf) This approach is like the one proposed by AEI in that it requires a “Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period,” massive testing, the ability to screen for asymptotic cases, and the ability to use contact tracing to contain the spread of the virus before going into Phase One. Phase One would still include school closures, although large venues such as sit-down restaurants and movie theaters could “operate under strict physical distancing protocols.” Massive testing in Michigan is necessary before we can think of dropping the stay-at-home order. Based on a Harvard study, Bridge magazine reports that “the United States needs to triple its level of testing to 152 tests per 100,000 people by May 15 to safely reopen the country. Currently, in Michigan, testing levels are at 45 per 100,000, based on a seven-day rolling average.” We have a long way to go.

I do not understand why Michigan House Republicans did not follow the AEI or White House guidelines. Is it because too many of our representatives do not understand or trust the experts? Is it because too many of them agree with the pro-white power, gun-toting, science-illiterate protesters? Is it because too many put profit before people? Whatever the reason, now is not the time to go back to business as usual. Too many more of our neighbors will die.

Hank Cetola is a Professor Emeritus at Adrian College and the founder of Lenawee Indivisible. He can be reached at lenaweeindivisible3@gmail.com.