Mich. lawmakers raise concerns after governor uses emergency system for mask alert

On July 14th, an emergency alert notification was pushed to the phones of Michigan residents.
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 6:42 PM EDT
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DUNDEE, Mich. (WTVG) - If you were in Michigan at about 4:44 PM Tuesday, July 14, 2020, you may have gotten an emergency push notification on your phone. It was an alert sent out by the Governor’s Office stating: “Fight COVID by wearing a mask.”

A statewide alert from Michigan's Governor's Office reminded people to wear masks.
A statewide alert from Michigan's Governor's Office reminded people to wear masks.(Tony Geftos)

State Representatives Jason Sheppard (R - 56th District) and Bradley Slaugh (R - 90th District) are speaking out. They’re not taking aim at the mask order itself. They’re taking issue with the way the emergency cell phone alert system was used to spread the word.

“Every time it comes up, I’m thinking an Amber Alert or some other major issue. I’m not thinking a mandatory mask wearing executive order,” said Rep. Sheppard.

“We lost credibility in the process of [issuing the alert],” said Rep. Slaugh, “and I think that we need to be really careful that we don’t lose the credibility for the system by simply crying wolf.”

MI Gov. Issues Cell Phone Alert for Masks
MI Gov. Issues Cell Phone Alert for Masks(Tony | Tony Geftos)

Representative Slaugh says he heard so much negative feedback, he immediately requested legislation. It would limit the use of cell phone alerts to urgent messages, such as missing children or public emergencies with potentially imminent danger.

“I had several people yesterday from my constituency say, ‘I’m going to shut the alerts off,’” continued Rep. Slaugh.

He says it’s not about wearing a mask, it’s about trusting the alerts. When there’s an emergency involving safety in the future, Representatives Slaugh and Sheppard are concerned those who silence the alerts won’t get a timely warning.

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