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Vail Continues Push For Greater COVID-19 Compliance At Capitol

Linda Vail Zoom image
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, speaking with reporters via Zoom on Tuesday

Ingham County’s top health official is standing by her efforts to encourage compliance with COVID-19 safety rules at the capitol building in Lansing.

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield has canceled three legislative sessions in the wake of news that presidential attorney Rudy Guiliani was hospitalized with COVID-19 since his appearance at a lengthy capitol hearing last week. Chatfield says no health director has the authority to shut down state government.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail told reporters on Tuesday that she wasn’t trying to shut the capitol down, and lacks the authority to do that. “In some ways," Vail says, "my authority is being undermined as a health official when leaders of the legislature claim that there are no close contact because no one was within six feet of Mayor Guiliani.”

Guiliani didn’t wear a mask during the hearing, which lasted over four hours, and a number of people were potentially exposed to him. “We’re in a room," Vail explains, "indoors for a prolonged period of time. There was a crowd. I’m not sure of ventilation, but again, it was indoors. And, it’s also important to remember that the masks protect others to a larger degree than the wearer, although we do know it also protects the wearer to some extent.”

Vail says that based on Guiliani’s hospitalization this weekend, it’s highly likely that he was contagious while in Lansing.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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