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Rep. Jack Bergman: When will Americans be free from COVID-19 restrictions? | Opinion


When I ran for Congress in 2016, I made it very clear that one of my main goals was to get the federal government off the back and out of the pockets of Michigan residents.

COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in all our lives and caused our dedicated experts, doctors and nurses to learn on the go. They’ve been working tirelessly to mitigate virus spread, find answers and develop vaccines and treatments. Yet through this process, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our “government experts” have entered the twilight zone of federal rule and policymaking.

Many Americans feel as though we are indefinitely stuck in an uncomfortable and unsustainable new reality with no way out. These feelings are largely because our leading government scientists refuse to chart a clear course back to normalcy.

After all, we were told by leaders and experts more than 400 days ago that we simply needed 15 days to slow the spread. Then we were told we should not wear masks. Oops, now we must wear masks everywhere. Our restaurants and businesses must close — unless of course, you are a big-box store.

Then the experts said: Even with a vaccine, we still need to stay away from others; our restaurants can now be partly opened — but they must close at 10 p.m. Wait, now 11 p.m. is OK.

Our 2-year-olds need to wear masks now, although the CDC has “given us permission” to ride our bikes or walk outside without a mask.

These government regulations have been largely political. Over the last year, nearly every bureaucratic or government entity has failed to consider the hopelessness and damage they are inflicting.

Just a brief look into the permanent destruction done to the restaurant and tourism industries alone shows the devastating mark these shutdowns have caused. Michigan has had some of the longest shutdowns in the United States — causing more than 3,000 restaurants to close. Yet, the CDC recently pushed our governor to shut things down instead of focusing on vaccine availability and charting a realistic path forward for us.

In a recent hearing, the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci responded to the question of “When do Americans get their freedoms back?” by saying, “When we get the level of infection in this country low enough that it is not a really high threat.”

Since when was “not a really high threat” a scientific metric? This wouldn’t cut it in a business deal or our daily lives, so why should we allow this from our government?

Americans want accountability and real answers, but the tone-deaf response we get is finger-wagging about avoiding our normal lives, while Michigan bureaucrats and elected officials head to Florida.

The hopelessness and mistrust are only compounded when leaders like Fauci and President Joe Biden continue to push strict masking in most cases, even after getting vaccinated. Any reasonable citizen will question why it is necessary when we are told the vaccines are safe and effective.

After front-line workers became eligible to receive their vaccines, I made the personal decision to get mine — and I believe it truly is a personal decision. But the continued COVID theater by bureaucrats and politicians only compounds many Americans’ hesitancy to make these decisions.

Freedom-loving Americans are left to wonder: How and when do we get back to normal? Small businesses demand an answer. Working families demand an answer. Students demand an answer. Americans demand an answer.

Congressman Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, serves Michigan's 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.