As Governor Gretchen Whitmer relaxes her overbearing coronavirus mandates in the state of Michigan, some residents are breathing a sigh of relief and ditching their masks with a side snark.
Fewer than 35 percent of residents in Luce County are fully vaccinated and only about 40 percent have had an initial dose of the vaccine. However, in other parts of the state, the percentages are higher.
“We saw that same hesitation when we would hold drive-through testing events last summer and last fall in our counties,” noted Kerry Ott, who is the public information officer for the Luce, Mackinac, Alger, and Schoolcraft (LMAS) health department. “And it was always, our slowest one was Luce.”
While authorities bemoan the slow vaccination rate, it comes down to individual choice for each American as it does across the nation. A vaccine passport or card is not required and many places are operating on the honor system in the state.
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As the mask mandate was lifted, some are claiming that cases started to rise in Luce County and so did the positivity rate. But those claims seem to be mixed. There is also no data that is readily available that shows masks have anything to do with the proclaimed increase.
“A lot of people are using the phrase, ‘I identify as fully vaccinated’ and taking their masks off,” Ott stated. “I’m not kidding. …They’re not vaccinated, but they’re going to take their masks off.”
Because the mandates are now loosened, which is perceived as a constitutionally good thing, businesses can only ask if a person has been vaccinated and take them at their word for it. Ott noted: “We’re just repeating what is in the governor’s orders. We’re not asking for people’s [vaccination] cards. We’re just asking for them to self attest their vaccination status. And if they say yes, we’re telling the businesses, ‘Then take them at their word and move forward.’”
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There are concerns not only about customers but employees as well: “I have another business that’s got concerns because they have staff that they know are not vaccinated, who now are coming to work without their masks on, [saying] ‘Oh, yeah, I am.’ So it’s difficult.”
However, overall cases in the state seem to be declining and the concern may be overblown.
Raymond Mahaffey, aka Chef Ray, who is the chef at Timber Charlie’s which is a popular restaurant in the county, isn’t that worried about COVID: “Ultimately, it’ll all work itself out,” he commented. “It’s time to let nature take its course.” He’s fully vaccinated. Many residents appear to share his sentiments.
There are only just over 6,000 people in the county. Three people have allegedly died from the virus there.
Mahaffey says that his restaurant is “blessed to be open.” But it has literally come at a high price given Whitmer’s mandates and their costs. He allegedly believes a quarter of his staff are home on unemployment because they have been incentivized to do so.
The price has been too high to pay for something that’s just another version of the flu, Mahaffey contends: “Can you imagine if they said, ‘OK, we’re going to close the school for three months, and the kids are going to suffer because guess what? Somebody got the flu,’” he posited. “…We got little kids in school that are passing [the virus] around, and they’re as healthy as can be, but they’ve tested positive.”
“There is no reason [for this] a year later, with the numbers being so small [here],” Mahaffey said. The restrictions have “been nothing but political. It’s been crazy. And we can’t wait to get it over with.”
Distrust of the government runs deep not only in this county but across the nation. Conspiracy theories range from the vaccine altering DNA to an effort at depopulation. The left has done nothing but exacerbate those fears with heavy-handed mandates and threats instead of facts and freedom of choice.