Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA) asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to deem all construction field operations – including work fixing roads and bridges – throughout the state as non-essential so employees can stay home and be protected from the COVID-19 virus.

“Last week our members were continuing to perform work on our state’s roads and bridges and they found that many of their employees were very concerned about their well being. A lot of these jobs, while they are outside, can be in close quarters and so they had employees that had a hard time going back to their families explaining why a road project in the middle of nowhere was considered a critical infrastructure project,” Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs for MITA said.

The request was made after the MITA Board of Directors passed a resolution to protect the health and safety of frontline employees.

In addition to potentially increasing the spread of the disease, continued industry operations would put a drain on the scarce supply of necessary medical equipment like N-95 masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, when hospitals and other health care providers are experiencing severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

MITA has encouraged all members who have excess PPE to donate these goods to local hospitals or other health care facilities.

“We had a lot of contractors and a lot of members who kept hearing the president and our governor say we need any of those businesses that have extra protective equipment and they’re going out and sending their own employees out with it when our individuals and our citizens on the front line of all this could really use them,” Binoniemi said.

If companies do suspend operations, it could mean lost income for some employees, but Binoniemi said those workers still have options.

“Some of the new governmental unemployment benefits are gonna be helpful for those employees. We definitely have some members that would like to continue to work and with Detroit being the new hot spot, we have our members in that region who are very concerned for their employees and they think this is the appropriate way to keep their employees safe,” Binoniemi said.