Gov. Whitmer says she ‘won’t be bullied’ into reopening Michigan ‘before it’s safe’

Whitmer says coronavirus (COVID-19) spike could lead to more businesses closing

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her May 29, 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had some strong words about the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Michigan, saying she “won’t be bullied” into reopening the state before she believes it’s safe.

“I want to reengage this economy more than anyone, but I’m not going to do it if it is too risky to do so, and that’s why we’re seeing focus on the epidemiology,” Whitmer said. “I’m not going to be bullied into moving before it’s safe, and if we have to move back, we’re going to.”

Whitmer spoke amid a slight rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Michigan. She said it’s possible parts of the economy could begin to close again.

“We’re going to continue to monitor the numbers,” Whitmer said. “If they keep moving up, we’re going to dial back if we have to. That’s the last thing any of us want.

“I took a lot of heat. When we brought that curve down we saved thousands of lives. I’m prepared to take heat if that’s what it’s going to take to keep people safe.”

Whitmer reiterated that she had planned to move the entire state to phase five of her reopening plan by the Fourth of July, but instead moved backward by shutting down indoor bar service.

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“COVID-19 is still very present here in Michigan and across the country, obviously,” Whitmer said. “We have taken herculean effort to push our curve down. We’ve saved thousands of lives. Michigan had been on the forefront. We’ve done an incredible amount of work and I would hate to think that this sacrifice that we have made would be made in vain because some people are losing interest or are dropping their guard. We’ve got to double down right now more than ever.”

Much of Michigan’s spike has been traced back to certain exposure locations, such as at Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in East Lansing. The outbreak at the bar has been linked to 138 cases so far.

Here are some of the other confirmed outbreaks and exposure locations:

As a result, the Lansing and Grand Rapids regions have been upgraded to higher risks than the rest of the state, as their rolling seven-day average of new cases skyrocketed from below 10 cases per million population to north of 50, at one point.

“Gyms are not open,” Whitmer said. “Theaters are not open. There are a number of other business entities that are not reengaged yet. In so far that we have reengaged hair salons -- that’s something that if we see some outbreaks, we may have to disengage on that front.”

The governor’s office sent Local 4 the following statement on Tuesday:

Gov. Whitmer will continue to monitor the data. If we see a second wave of COVID-19 coming, we may have to move backward in the MI Safe Start Plan, which is the last thing any of us want to do. We must remain flexible and nimble and plan for various scenarios. COVID-19 is still very present in Michigan, and this is not a time for Michiganders to let their guards down. We must continue to do everything in our power to flatten the curve and prevent more spread.”

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.