VanderWall bill would prevent requiring children under 5 to wear masks

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Health Policy and Human Services Chairman Curt VanderWall introduced legislation Thursday in response to one of the governor’s latest ill-advised mandates.

Senate Bill 428 would prevent the state and local health departments from requiring the use of masks for children under the age of 5.

“Whether Gov. Whitmer’s order that children as young as 2 wear masks is rooted in science is questionable, at best,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “But what isn’t up for debate is that it’s completely lacking in common sense. It just won’t work.”

On April 16, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued the order requiring children aged 2 through 4 to wear masks.

But the World Health Organization recommends against a child aged 5 years and under being required to wear masks, based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the inability of children to appropriately use masks.

“Local experts also have weighed in in response to this order,” VanderWall said. “An infectious disease specialist at Michigan State University said he doesn’t think it’s going to be practical. He’s right. Parents know how hard it can be to get a 2-year-old to follow the simplest of instructions, let alone trying to have them keep a mask on.”

VanderWall said that as more and more Michiganders are vaccinated or are immune from the virus, the governor should be loosening restrictions, not creating new ones with little hope of success.

“Every silly order like this one issued by the governor causes Michiganders to doubt the importance of all health measures needed to combat COVID-19,” VanderWall said. “There are effective actions to take to keep us safe. This isn’t one of them.”

The Senate is expected to consider SB 428 next week.