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I have been part of the Grand Traverse Board of Commission Watchdog Group for a couple years. There have been very few of their actions worth celebrating. Commissioners Coffia and Huntley (the Democratic minority) have repeatedly been outvoted by what we have come to call the 'Gang of Four' (the radical right Republicans).

Below is a version of the comments I made at the BOC meeting, December 2, 2020.


I speak today in hopes of changing this board’s attitude toward COVID’s effect on our community.

After County Health Officer Wendy Hirschenberger’s recent updates, a Commissioner asked ‘how many of the deaths are older people with preexisting conditions?’ It’s as if to say, ‘as long as the people who die are old and not well, it doesn’t really matter.' Being one of the 30% of the county residents who are over 60, I resent that attitude.

It’s not just old people who die. One of my neighbor’s son-in-law was exposed to Covid and, seven days later, was hospitalized on a ventilator. After fifty long miserable days, he died. Before this exposure, he had been a healthy, middle-aged man - like most of you


There are limited resources in our area to treat Covid patients. Last spring, staff and supplies could be moved around the country to help with outbreaks. Now, no area has enough resources to get through what they are facing. Some Michigan hospitals are offering up to $100/hr in an effort to get qualified critical care nurses.

Munson medical staff will soon have to triage who benefits from their limited resources. Should they save a person who has been running mask-less around the community, irresponsibility exposing unsuspecting people like my neighbor’s son-in-law? And, should they then leave someone like me, a healthy senior citizen, on a stretcher, in the hallway, to die?

Healthcare workers at Munson continually tell me how angry they are that the people who will expect to benefit from their care won’t hear their cries for help. “Why won’t they listen when we tell them how bad this is?” "Why do they refuse to wear a mask?"

I’d like to share something a nurse-practitioner friend of mine recently posted on Facebook.

'So, a few more folks died from COVID the last few days I worked, but don’t worry, they were old, so it’s no big deal – right? I’m sure that will comfort their families.

By the way, for all you brilliant statisticians out there who keep saying 99% recover, 1% of the population of Grand Traverse County is about 1000 people. Add Leelanau and Benzie and that’s another 400 people.

If you don’t think this will eventually reach you, or someone you finally care about, you’re dreaming.' (end quote)

You seem to have the idea that being a responsible, caring citizen is an infringement on your personal freedoms. Law schools put it this way – Your right to swing your arm ends when your hand strikes the side of my face. Similarly, your right not to wear a mask ends when you are the reason someone like me is going to die.

The Grand Traverse area has been fortunate that our numbers of cases and deaths do not match those of the larger cities downstate. However, the statistics are undoubtedly understated. When my daughter's family got Covid, she was the only one tested. The doctor said, since all four of them were symptomatic, they would just assume they all had it. So, one positive test really represented four positive cases. Consider that the next time you hear updates for our area.

Pray that, when you or someone you love, contracts this disease, the medical staff at Munson has not reached the point where they have to decide which patient will benefit from the limited resources, including staff, that is available.

Trust me, you will feel differently when you realize someone you have loved is being held in a cooler truck outside the hospital because there is no more room in the morgue.


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