Chamber Presents Poll Findings to Rep. Stevens and Municipal Leaders

Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, presented findings from the Chamber’s May Michigan Priorities Poll to U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI 11), and municipal leaders from her district, which encompasses parts of Oakland and Wayne Counties.

“As Michigan works to expand vaccination rates across the state and support economic growth, it is important for the Chamber to work with local, state, and federal leaders to help accelerate a post-pandemic recovery, said Williams after the meeting. “Providing data and economic analysis of what is happening on the ground throughout the state will help our leaders make sound public policy decisions.”

Key Points Shared at Municipal Leaders Meeting

Policy Could Make Small Boosts to Vaccination Rates

Our poll indicates that the number of individuals willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine has increased significantly from December of 2020, but only marginally since February 2021. There remains a stubborn 20% of Michiganders who do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances.  It appears that most existing policy interventions will have a marginal impact without innovative thinking.  We also know that COVID safety was cited as the number one barrier to getting people back into the labor force (22.9%).  Data helped shape the Chamber’s thinking around our creation of the vaccine incentives for 1 million Michiganders to get vaccinated in our 100k by Labor Day Return to Work Plan.

Unemployment Benefits Are a Modest Part of Our Labor Challenge

Michigan’s labor market is tight.  Our unemployment rate outpaces the national average by 1.2% and our Unemployment Insurance system has been stressed to unprecedented levels since the onset of the pandemic.  Getting people from UIA into jobs serves a social good and state budget savings, but our labor market is only going to get healthier when we attract more people into the market.  The poll told us this, 4.2% of people employed before the pandemic left the workforce altogether and skewed towards workers at the end of their careers.  In order to address Michigan’s labor challenge in the short and medium term, policymakers should focus on expanding the labor market.  We suggest incentives like $2,000 Return to Work grants, coupled with $1,000 grants for employers that can be used as either incentive to bring people back into the workforce or retrain them. We acknowledge $400 million this plan would cost is a significant figure and seems counter intuitive to some. However, when you consider that Michigan spent an unprecedented $22 billion on unemployment during only the first 6 months of the pandemic, it is a fiscally responsible one-time investment to grow the workforce.

Voters Want Convenient, Secure Elections

The Chamber has been clear on our principles for any changes to elections laws that:

  • The 2020 election was well executed, fair, and lacked meaningful levels of voter fraud. Therefore, changes to voting rules and processes must be made carefully and not create unreasonable impediments for voters.
  • Improving security coupled with more customer-centric voting processes need not be a partisan issue; as the Democratic governor and Republican legislature of Kentucky recently demonstrated.
  • Some elements of our society face higher hurdles to vote, including restricted personal resources and more difficult polling place access – and these issues must be addressed. Making voting more difficult is contrary to the ethos of both social and technological advancement.
  • Michigan businesses compete nationally and internationally for diverse talent to remain competitive. More restrictive voting rules send an unwelcoming message to prospective talent and hinder our state’s economic competitiveness.

Rep. Stevens and municipal leaders were grateful for the Chamber’s analysis and work.

Aaron Burrell Named a “40 Under 40” Honoree by the National Bar Association

DETROIT, Mich. – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Aaron Burrell (Member, Detroit) has been named a “40 Under 40” Honoree by the National Bar Association.

National Bar Association’s “40 Under 40” honors the nation’s top lawyers under 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, including in innovation, vision, leadership and legal and community involvement. Honorees represent a cross-section of legal professionals, including big firm, solo and industry practitioners, government lawyers, judges, academicians, corporate counsels, elected officials, and various other lawyers, all of whom are helping to advance the goals and mission of the National Bar Association.

“I’m honored to be a part of the National Bar Association’s exemplary 2021 Class of 40 Under 40,” says Aaron.

Aaron is a Member of Dickinson Wright and serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. He serves on the board of directors of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and Oakland County Bar Association. He has served in leadership positions in numerous organizations including the State Bar of Michigan, the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, and the National Bar Association. Aaron is recognized by numerous publications as a leader in his field including Diversity MBA Magazine, Profiles in Diversity Journal, Crain’s Detroit Business, Michigan Lawyers Weekly and Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Stars.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. The firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

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Butzel Long attorney and former AILA Michigan Chair celebrates AILA Platinum Level Award, highest honor achieved by a Chapter; Bushra Malik also featured during AILA (virtual) Annual Conference

DETROIT, Mich. – Bushra Malik, Butzel Long attorney, shareholder and outgoing Michigan Chapter Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), is celebrating the Chapter receiving the AILA Platinum Level Award, under her leadership. It is the highest award given to a Chapter by the professional organization. The AILA award program recognizes AILA Chapters for their dedication, outstanding efforts, and achievements throughout the year.

Moreover, Malik also was a featured speaker during the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Virtual Annual Conference on June 10, 2021. She was a discussion leader in a panel program titled, “NAFTA/USMCA: The Current State of Play at the Southern and Northern Borders.” Panelists discussed how to navigate the policies of our neighboring countries that further complicate options for border crossings.

Malik currently serves on the AILA Department of State National Liaison Committee. Malik’s other AILA leadership roles have included serving as Chair of the Global Migration Section. Malik also previously served on the AILA Customs and Border Protection National Liaison Committee; was the Program Chair of the 2015 AILA Global Immigration Forum; and has presented at numerous AILA National, AILA GMS and AILA Rome District conferences. She also previously served as the Chair of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Liaison Committee for the Michigan Chapter of AILA.

She practices in the area of immigration law, focusing on the representation of multinational and domestic clients’ inbound and global migration needs. Her experience includes Employment based (Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Researcher, Multinational Manager, and PERMs) and Family based Permanent Residence Petitions, Non-Immigrant Petitions (H-1B/Specialty Occupation, J-1/ Exchange Visitor, L-1/Intracompany Transfers, O-1/Extraordinary Ability, TN/ NAFTA); Employer Compliance (I-9 Audits and H-1B Public Access File Audits); J-1 waivers; Compliance under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiate (WHTI); U.S. Passports; complex naturalization matters; and currency seizures.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

Windsor, Detroit business groups call for U.S. to open border


Windsor Star

By Trevor Wilhelm 

With businesses, jobs and social connections on the line, Windsor and Detroit business groups have joined together in calling for the U.S. to follow Canada’s example and reopen the border to non-essential travel.

Sandy K. Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said Monday that Detroit and Windsor are part of “one of the most highly integrated bi-national economies in the world.”

“Those of us who have the luxury of living on this international border know the importance of not just business trade but social interaction across the border,” he said. “We probably have a heightened sense of the importance compared to maybe some other parts of the country. And we see the economic impacts more readily than other parts of the country. So we hope by adding our voice to this that folks will pay attention.”

The Detroit Regional Chamber, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and Canada-U.S. Business Association (CUSBA) have issued a joint statement urging the U.S. to “reciprocate” Canada’s recent announcement that it will ease pandemic border restrictions.

It really impacts the retail, restaurant and hospitality industry the most

“Our respective nations’ social and business fabric are inextricably intertwined — especially in the automotive, mobility, technology and health care sectors,” the three organizations said in the shared statement. “Safely easing border restrictions will aid North American competitiveness in the global marketplace as well as the economic well-being of individuals and businesses in both Canada and the United States.”

Representatives of the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce couldn’t be reached for comment Monday after releasing the joint statement.

CUSBA president Mark High, based in Michigan, said getting the U.S. to ease restrictions is just as important to many Windsor businesses as Canada reopening its borders.

“It’s very vital for the Windsor community in particular for them to get access to the U.S. There are lots of Windsor businesses that are built on the fact that they’re a Detroit a suburb, certainly in automotive but in other things,” he said.

“The Canadians want to come over to get access to their customers and their suppliers.”

Non-essential travel across Canada’s land border has been banned since March 2020. The Canadian government announced last week that it plans to reopen its border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents starting Aug. 9.

Travellers will have to provide proof that they were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before entering the country. Entry to Canada will also require a negative COVID-19 test.

Following that announcement, the White House declined to commit to reopening its border to Canadians. The American border will remain closed until at least Aug. 21.

That was unexpected, said High.

“The countries generally co-ordinate on things like this,” he said. “So it’s a little surprising that the U.S. wasn’t ready to move forward. Kudos, I guess, to the Canadian government with moving ahead unilaterally anyway. But so often the countries co-ordinate on various levels with diplomatic matters and commercial matters, so it was a bit of a surprise.”

Travel restrictions in place for the last 16 months have caused social and economic devastation on both sides of the border, putting people out of work and separating families.

Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) has taken a huge hit totalling between $27.9 billion and $37.1 billion, according to the joint statement. In 2020, Canada lost between 400,000 and 500,000 jobs.

The U.S. Travel Association estimates that each month the border is closed, it costs the U.S. economy $1.5 billion in potential travel exports, the statement said.

Before the pandemic, Canadians spent more than $16 billion a year travelling in the U.S., the business groups said. In 2019, Canadians took more than 20 million trips over the border. In 2020, the number of trips plunged to 4.2 million.

Allowing cross border travel to resume in each direction is necessary to “accelerate the economic recovery in both nations,” the business organizations said.

“It really impacts the retail, restaurant and hospitality industry the most,” said Baruah. “Things like the casinos and the restaurants, places like that, certainly get a good percentage of their business from our neighbours in Ontario. Those are the sectors — small business, retail and hospitality/tourism — that were most negatively impacted by the pandemic and are the ones that kind of need the most assistance now as we come out of the pandemic. So easing the border restrictions would be a step in the right direction.”

View original article here

US-Canada couple denied border exemption; business leaders urge reciprocity


The Detroit News 

By James David Dickson 

River Rouge — Karissa Baker saw it before she heard it: her boyfriend Jacob Temple was denied passage Monday morning into Detroit from Windsor.

Temple, 29, attempted to invoke a medical exemption when trying to cross the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel from Windsor to Detroit.

Temple doesn’t need a doctor himself, but wanted to be with Baker, 30, on Tuesday when she undergoes testing in Brighton to get answers on the gastrointestinal issues that have bothered her for the past two years.

Baker watched on her iPhone as her boyfriend’s location showed, briefly, that he crossed from Windsor to America. For 40 minutes, she watched the dot sit at the customs station and not move.

When the dot finally did move, it was headed in the wrong direction, back to Canada.

“People say ‘you know what you signed up for,'” Baker said. “But the border has never been closed like this. We didn’t sign up for a long-distance relationship.”

While vaccinated Americans will once again be permitted to cross into Canada for non-essential travel Aug. 9, non-essential travel from Canada to the U.S. remains banned through at least Aug. 21. American officials have given no word on when that ban will be lifted.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, said Monday that she’s working with the advocacy group Let Us Reunite on a congressional letter to President Joe Biden urging him to “right this wrong” and allow for medically necessary travel and for family reunifications.

“At bare minimum, the U.S.-Canada land border must be open to vaccinated individuals or those with a recent negative COVID-19 test for family reunification and medically necessary travel,” Tlaib said in a Monday statement. “The current situation, in which people like Karissa and her family (Temple) remain separated, is too painful.

“The goal certainly is to get us to a place where vaccinated and COVID-19 negative individuals can cross the border with relative normalcy,” Tlaib added. “That determination must be made by public health experts.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said restrictions on non-essential travel at land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico were being extended to decrease spread of the virus, including the Delta variant. Essential travel, including the return of American citizens, has always been allowed.

“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably,” the department said in a statement last week.

When his travels began Monday morning, Temple put himself at “50-50” odds of a successful crossing.

He called ahead the day prior and explained his situation. He brought along a note from Baker’s doctor, about why she’d need his help getting home after her appointment, during which she’d be sedated.

None of it mattered, he said. The answer was no. Temple was turned around and sent back to Windsor.

“We’re vaccinated, we wear masks, we’ve done our part,” Temple said. “But they’d rather me fly in a plane with people than drive across in a car, by myself.”

While the U.S. land border is closed to Canada except for “essential” travel, and some other exemptions, including medical, plane travel has been allowed throughout the pandemic.

Kris Grogan, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the lack of a familial tie is likely why such a trip would be considered non-essential, and outside of the exemption.

Biden’s move on US-Canada border could have more to do with Mexico border


Detroit Free Press

By Todd Spangler 

After last week’s surprise announcement that the U.S. border with Canada would remain closed to nonessential travel until at least Aug. 21, quiet speculation — and consternation — has been rampant that problems along the southern border may be to blame.

The concern is that, even though Canadian vaccine rates have surpassed those in the U.S., the Biden administration is wary of opening the northern border while keeping those same restrictions in place along the border with Mexico, where vaccination rates are lagging.

Relaxing restrictions along the southern border is also complicated by the extraordinary number of people trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico, which is at levels not seen in decades, and pressure on President Joe Biden to revise rules that allow asylum seekers to be turned back because of COVID-19. But treating the two borders differently presents political problems, given that Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are close trading partners and that many Democrats believe the U.S. should be more welcoming to immigrants fleeing violence in Central America.

Some in northern border states, including Michigan, still feel they’re being unfairly penalized — with family unable to visit or businesses losing out on Canadian customers and tourists — for political reasons, not heath ones.

“It’s tough governing. Difficult decisions have to be made,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, when asked how Biden might balance those interests. A leader of a group of American legislators that coordinates cross-border issues with Canadian lawmakers, he has been advocating a reopening of the border to vaccinated Canadians and critical of Biden’s response.

“We know the southern border crisis isn’t purely about Mexico … these are people from around Central America (trying to enter),” he said. “The northern border issue (where there isn’t the same level of attempted entries) is a different type of issue and shame on them for not being able to recognize that.”

Biden administration mum

Huizenga has heard concerns from colleagues on both sides of of the border that southern border politics may be slowing a northern border opening, even though few are saying it publicly. The Biden administration last week declined to comment on the speculation for the Free Press.

But sources either directly involved in the push to open the border or with close contacts in both countries told the Free Press that worries were high that the situation along the southern border — and the divisive politics involved, with Republicans chastising Biden for taking a tougher public stand against illegal entries — was playing a role.

It’s not just Republicans, either. After the Canadian government announced it would allow vaccinated Americans to enter beginning Aug. 9, many believed the Biden administration would follow suit.

Instead, citing concerns over the delta variant of the virus — but despite low levels of hospitalizations among the vaccinated and current rules that already allow Canadians to fly into the U.S. — the Department of Homeland Security said last week it was keeping the land border restrictions in place until at least Aug. 21.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said he was “extremely disappointed.” U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat who represents the Buffalo area in New York, lashed out, saying the administration has given no reasonable justification for the continued closing.

 “We’re left to speculate without any clarity from the administration the arbitrary decision to keep the border closed,” Higgins told the Free Press last week. “The irony is if you fly from Toronto to Buffalo, it’s OK. How does that make sense?

“For 16 months, we have been told to follow the science. If you look at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) COVID guidance, it says, if fully vaccinated, you can resume pre-pandemic activity.”

Legislators may push for answers

Higgins said that while he can’t say for certain that it’s issues along the southern border that are keeping the northern border restrictions in place, he acknowledges the speculation is there and growing. Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial calling it “Biden’s Canadian COVID blockade.”

The newspaper also published a story last week with one unnamed official speculating that southern border issues were at least in part responsible for the continued northern border closing.

Higgins and Huizenga both said they expect those who have been pushing for a reopening of the border to increase efforts to get congressional committees to demand a better answer from the administration. U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, blasted the Biden administration and was one of the few to link the northern border issue with the southern border.

“These decisions are clearly not founded in any concern for public health,” he said. “This inequity is nonsensical and continues to hamper local economies.”

Meanwhile, Biden’s top official on the question — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — was asked about the Canadian border Tuesday when he came before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is chaired by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.

“Travel restrictions … continue to present significant challenges,” Peters told the Free Press on Monday. “That is why I have continued to urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to provide increased transparency on pandemic-related travel restrictions.”

Peters didn’t ask specifically about the Mexican border but urged Mayorkas to consider relaxing restrictions on Canadians that are having a “serious” impact on Michigan and other northern border states.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., also told Mayorkas the argument for keeping vaccinated Canadians out of the U.S. didn’t make sense. “I don’t understand the public health analysis… I would urge you to take the steps you need to take to open the border to vaccinated Canadians as quickly as you can.”

Mayorkas reiterated that it was health reasons, and noting else, that was keeping the restrictions in place.

In Michigan, members of both parties have called for the border to be reopened.

While essential travel such as cross-border trade and health care visits have been allowed since last year, there are still reportedly billions being lost by businesses that count on Canadian travel, not to mention less regular business visits — say, by salespeople — that may be more difficult to explain to border agents in order to cross.

Bill Anderson, the head of the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor, said a “lack of direct interaction” between businesses is taking its toll. “They’re the ones that really suffer a lot from this. … They’re losing orders because it’s not easy for them to go back and forth.”

U.S. slow to lift other restrictions also

At the Detroit Regional Chamber, which represents businesses in southeast Michigan, President and CEO Sandy Baruah said the impact on major businesses in metro Detroit hasn’t been great because travel deemed essential has been allowed.

But he acknowledged some businesses have been affected. “Certainly we would like to see it opened up,” he said. “We’re advocating the U.S. government should follow suit (with Canada).”

Baruah, who was an assistant Commerce Department secretary and acting head of the Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush, said while he has no inside information about deliberations, he wonders whether the Biden administration’s hesitance may have to do with more than just the southern border.

The U.S., he noted, has been slow to lift restrictions on incoming entries from many European countries and elsewhere, including those that allow vaccinated Americans across their borders.

Whatever is the case, Huizenga said few officials accept the Biden administration’s argument that new variants and continued risk from COVID-19 justify the continued closure of the Canadian border.

“Flat-out no,” he said when asked whether he took the administration at its word. “I think that’s a convenient excuse. When you dig in a little bit, it unravels.”

View original article here 

CDC Reverses Course on Indoor Masks in Some Parts of US

The Detroit News
July 27, 2021
Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed course Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.

Citing new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

MORECDC change on masks brings U.S. back in line with WHO and foreign governments

In other developments, President Joe Biden said his administration was considering requiring all federal workers to get vaccinated. His comments came a day after the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require its health care workers receive the vaccine.

Biden dismissed concerns that the new masking guidance from the CDC could invite confusion, saying Americans who remain unvaccinated are the ones who are “sowing enormous confusion.”

“The more we learn about this virus and the delta variation, the more we have to be worried and concerned. And there’s only one thing we know for sure – if those other 100 million people got vaccinated, we’d be in a very different world,” he said.

The White House quickly pivoted on its own masking guidance, asking all staff and reporters to wear masks indoors because the latest CDC data show that Washington faces a substantial level of coronavirus transmission.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday it’s a good idea to mask up indoors, but she has no intention to bring back the mask mandates imposed earlier in the pandemic.

“I am going to be very thoughtful of how I utilize the mask. It still remains a very good tool to keep people safe, (but) not everyone can get vaccinated,” Gov. Whitmer said at a Tuesday press conference in Detroit. “So wearing a mask is an act of care for others who can’t get vaccinated.

“I do not anticipate another pandemic order not in the near future and maybe not ever,” Gov. Whitmer added. “The fact of the matter is we now know a lot more about this virus. We have vaccines.”

About 53.8% of Michigan’s adults 16 years and older are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department’s website.

The Governor required masks under a 1945 emergency powers law that was later ruled unconstitutional and has since been eliminated under a petition initiative approved by the Michigan Legislature. But the state health department has the ability to require masks wearing under epidemic orders.

Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun backed the CDC’s measure without indicating if the state would follow suit.

“I am supportive of today’s @CDCgov guidance,” Khaldun tweeted Tuesday. “Universal masking in schools and masks indoors in public spaces even if vaccinated when transmission is high is what we need to do right now to get ahead of this Delta variant. And please, most importantly, #GetVaccinated ASAP.”

Michigan State University Epidemiology Professor Dr. Nigel Paneth said there is a small subset of people who are vaccinated who may not have sufficient antibodies to ward off COVID-19 infection. Given the current increase in cases, it’s wise to resume wearing masks indoors, he said.

“I’ve started wearing a mask too, when I go into a store or a market,” Paneth said. “There are still people getting infected, and there are still people dying.”

The CDC’s new mask policy follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South. The nation is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. That includes 60% of U.S. counties, officials said.

Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. So-called breakthrough infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.

The data emerged over the last couple of days from over 100 samples from several states and one other country. It is unpublished, and the CDC has not released it. But “it is concerning enough that we feel like we have to act,” Walensky said.

Vaccinated people “have the potential to spread that virus to others,” she said.

For much of the pandemic, the CDC advised Americans to wear masks outdoors if they were within six feet of one another.

Then in April, as vaccination rates rose sharply, the agency eased its guidelines on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to cover their faces unless they were in a big crowd of strangers. In May, the guidance was eased further for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

The guidance still called for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters, but it cleared the way for reopening workplaces and other venues.

Subsequent CDC guidance said fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks at schools either.

For months COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations were falling steadily, but those trends began to change at the beginning of the summer as the delta variant, a mutated and more transmissible version of the virus, began to spread widely, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates.

Some public health experts said they thought the earlier CDC decision was based on good science. But those experts were also critical, noting that there was no call for Americans to document their vaccination status, which created an honor system. Unvaccinated people who did not want to wear masks in the first place saw it as an opportunity to do what they wanted, they said.

“If all the unvaccinated people were responsible and wore masks indoors, we would not be seeing this surge,” said Dr. Ali Khan, a former CDC disease investigator who now is dean of the University of Nebraska’s College of Public Health.

Lawrence Gostin, a public health law professor at Georgetown University, drew a similar conclusion.

“It was completely foreseeable that when they (the CDC) made their announcement, masking would no longer be the norm, and that’s exactly what’s happened,” Gostin said.

The CDC may be seen as “flip-flopping,” he said, because there’s been no widely recognized change in the science, he said. Furthermore, it’s not likely to change the behavior of the people who most need to wear masks.

“I don’t think you can effectively walk that back,” he said.

The changes were sure to renew mask debates in school districts across the country.

In South Florida, the Broward County school board postponed a meeting Tuesday about whether students should wear masks in the classroom this fall after about 20 anti-mask protestors refused to don them.

The delay angered the protestors, who called on Gov. Ron DeSantis, a strong mask mandate opponent, and the state government to override any mandates imposed by school districts.

“We need a special session of the state Legislature to ban this kind of crap right now,” said Chris Nelson, 38, founder of an anti-mask group called Reopen South Florida. He threatened to go to board members’ homes to confront them directly.

“If we can’t be heard in public areas, and peacefully, we will go to where they are, and we will let them know how we feel about this, because we will not stand for children being masked for another year,” he said.

Walensky said she is aware of the criticisms and concerns, and she acknowledged that many Americans are weary of the pandemic and do not want to return to prevention measures. But she said new scientific information forced the decision to change the guidance again.

“This is not something that I took lightly,” she said.

Ken Thigpen, a retired respiratory therapist who now works for a medical device manufacturer, is fully vaccinated and stopped wearing his mask in public after the CDC changed its guidance in May. But he started to reconsider in the last week after his job took him to hospitals in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida, where he witnessed medical centers getting inundated with COVID-19 patients.

“That delta variant is intense. It is so transmissible that we have to do something to tamp it down,” he said.

“I loved it when I could call the hospitals and they said, ‘We actually closed our COVID ward today or we are down to two COVID patients,’” he recalled. “And now we are opening the wards back up, and the numbers are going nuts.”

View the original article.

Paul W. Smith

Your morning on the Great Voice of The Great Lakes at WJR kicks off with Emmy award winning Paul W. Smith, Monday through Friday, from 5:30-9 a.m. Whether he is interviewing the head of a major local company, the governor, a celebrity, or other listeners, Smith has a warm and conversational style that keeps listeners tuned in. Dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as “the king of talk radio in Detroit,” Smith has interviewed every American president since Gerald R. Ford. Smith is the only broadcaster who has been asked to fill in for three of the biggest names in the business – Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. Smith has been named “Best” morning show broadcast personality by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. Smith was proud to be named a “Michiganian of the Year” by The Detroit News, and most recently he was inducted into The Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, following his earlier induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago.

Detroit Regional Chamber Political Action Committee Announces Endorsements for Detroit City Council Primaries

DETROIT (July 28, 2021) – The Detroit Regional Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) today announced its endorsement of Detroit City Council candidates in advance of the Aug. 3 primary elections.

“Collaborative and thoughtful leadership on the City Council that works closely with Mayor Duggan will be critical in addressing the challenges that Detroit faces,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “In a crowded primary field, the Chamber PAC believes that these candidates embody the energetic and pragmatic approach to governance necessary to position the city for sustainable and equitable economic growth.”

The endorsed City Council candidates are:

At Large
Coleman Young II
District 1
Councilmember James Tate
District 2
Councilmember Roy McCalister Jr.
District 4
Toson Knight
District 5
Council President Pro Tem
Mary Sheffield
District 6
Hector Santiago
District 7
Frederick Durhal III

The Chamber PAC Board of Directors regularly meets to identify and support pro-business candidates and policies that support the Chamber’s public policy priorities. After careful consideration, the Board made the endorsements based on responses to a Chamber PAC survey, input from PAC members and individual interactions. The Chamber PAC Board is comprised of business leaders representing bipartisan views and reflecting diversity in industry, business size, and location. The Chamber PAC historically makes bipartisan endorsements based on alignment with the Chamber’s legislative policy priorities.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber
Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out by creating a business-friendly climate and providing value for members. The Chamber also executes the statewide automotive and mobility cluster association, MICHauto, and hosts the nationally recognized Mackinac Policy Conference. Additionally, the Chamber leads the most comprehensive education and talent strategy in the state.

Marc Siry

Marc Siry serves as vice president of strategic development as part of Comcast Business’s Complex Solutions team. In this role, Siry helps to develop and launch new strategic products for Comcast Business customers. Siry is currently focused on developing concepts in the areas of cybersecurity, digital health, connected mobility, and smart cities.

Previously, Siry served as senior vice president of media products and advanced technology for NBCUniversal. Siry’s team created the technology, tools, and capabilities that enable NBCUniversal businesses to reach, serve, and monetize their audiences in a digitally connected world. He provided support for coordinating product strategy, development, design, and technical architecture for critical systems. He also worked to evaluate emerging platforms, sharing knowledge and best practices across NBCUniversal and business partners.