LaSata to Whitmer: Stay home order risks further EEE infection

LANSING, Mich. — Southwest Michigan could see a spike in Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) this season because of executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Sen. Kim LaSata said in a letter to the governor on Monday that the failure to allow Michigan residents to follow Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) guidelines to kill and prevent mosquitoes further threatens their health and safety.

“The governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order completely disregards the very real and imminent threat of mosquito-borne illnesses, like EEE, which ravaged Southwest Michigan communities last year,” said LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “I strongly urge the governor to revise her executive order to allow residents to adequately follow MDHHS and CDC mosquito prevention guidelines.

“The revision should, at minimum, classify lawn care and landscape professionals as essential workers, classify insecticides and repellents as essential items, and extend the licenses and reciprocity of pesticide applicators.”

LaSata’s concern stems from last year’s EEE outbreak, and because of the relatively mild winter that could lead to another.

MDHHS prevention guidelines include using insect repellent and taking steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside homes — steps that many people rely on lawn care and landscape professionals to do. In 2019, the Whitmer administration urged Michigan residents to cancel, postpone or reschedule outdoor events scheduled at or after dusk, especially those that involve children, to reduce exposure to EEE.

“Last year, half of all Michigan residents who died from EEE were from the 21st Senate District,” LaSata said. “People being treated for EEE often require intensive care in a hospital and ventilator assistance — methods that are also being used to treat COVID-19 infections. To help prevent another EEE outbreak and further strain on our medical resources, the governor must revise her executive order today.”