Senate declines to declare Monday COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day

    Tiona Barksdale-Matthews mourns her older sister, Laneeka, while visiting the Detroit Memorial to Honor Victims of COVID-19 on Belle Isle. | Ken Coleman

    State Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) on Thursday offered a resolution on the Senate floor to recognize Monday as COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day, but the GOP-led body declined to take up the measure that only has Democratic sponsors.

    “COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the globe and has had catastrophic effects on human life, our community, and our economy,” Sen. Polehanki said. “Each life lost to COVID-19 has left a hole in the hearts of loved ones, family members and surrounding communities.”

    Part of the resolution reads: “Whereas, Each life lost to COVID-19 matters and leaves a hole in the hearts of loved ones, family members, and surrounding communities; and Whereas, Public health guidance and policies targeted at prevention such as social distancing, wearing masks in public, and staying home help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, prevent illness, and lessen the burden on individuals and society; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate, That the members of this legislative body designate March 1, 2021, as COVID‑19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day.”

    As of Thursday, 585,352 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 15,453 have died from the virus. There are 28.4 million confirmed cases in the United States and 507,465 deaths.

    “We cannot ignore the tragic reality this pandemic has had on our nation, our state, and our local communities,” Polehanki said. “This is the least we can do for those we have lost and those who were fortunate enough to survive.”

    Senate Resolution 19 also urged Michigan residents to continue taking preventative measures — such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and following public health orders — to mitigate spread of the coronavirus and protect essential workers and vulnerable populations.

    The Michigan Advance submitted a question to GOP leaders at a virtual press conference earlier this month if they would hold a memorial for those who have died in the pandemic, but the question was not taken up.

    The Senate returns in session Tuesday. SR 19 has been referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.