What Whitmer said about other states playing sports with worse COVID-19 trends than Michigan

‘No one wants to engage additional things in our economy more than I,’ Whitmer says

A football on the sideline of a football field. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) (Brett Carlsen, 2018 Brett Carlsen)

LANSING, Mich. – Many other states around the country have more alarming coronavirus (COVID-19) trends than Michigan, but they’re playing high school sports while Michigan is not. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked about that during her Wednesday briefing.

At the start of the questions portion of her briefing, Whitmer said,” When it comes to battling COVID-19, we all have to be on the same team.”

Whitmer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and Dr. Deborah Birx all noted during the briefing that Michigan is doing much better than other states in terms of COVID-19 trends. That prompted the question: Then why are they playing high school sports while we’re not?

Here’s the exact wording of the question, which was posed after Whitmer told Michiganders an announcement about reopening gyms and resuming organized sports would be made “in the coming days.”

“You say you want everyone to be on the same team, that we have to work together. Both you guys today and Dr. Birx this morning said Michigan is doing better than many other states. Our numbers are lower than surrounding states, but then we have players and coaches and parents all sitting here seeing all those states playing sports and being able to bowl and all those things. What do you say to them when they feel like they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, doing what you ask and not getting the credit for it?”

Whitmer reiterated that more information would be released soon and suggested that stricter guidelines are the reason Michigan has fewer cases of COVID-19 than many of those other states.

“I would just acknowledge that the reason that we are in a stronger position is because we’ve been following the science,” Whitmer said. “We’ve been very smart about promulgating protocols. We’ve been working with leaders in these various parts of our economy to ensure that when they are engaged, they can do so safely.”

Even though Michigan’s numbers are lower, there are concerning trends in parts of the state, including the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region, according to Whitmer and Khaldun.

The governor said being mindful of the science and keeping certain parts of the economy closed could be more beneficial for the long-term health of Michigan and its economy.

“The thing that is so important is that people continue to do what it takes to be safe,” Whitmer said. “That means mask wearing. No one wants to engage additional things in our economy more than I. This has been a tough time for every single one of us, and the more normalcy we can have, the better for all of us. But it’s absolutely hand-in-hand with the number of COVID-19 cases across the state and whether or not we all mask up.”

If Michigan residents want to see more of the economy reopen -- including gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and children returning to school in person -- they have to keep following COVID-19 safety rules such as wearing a mask and keeping their distance, according to Whitmer.

Numbers by region

The overall number of positive COVID-19 cases per million people per day in the state of Michigan is at 59, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said. That number has declined in the last week.

The region with the highest case rate is still the Detroit Region, which is currently at 66 cases per million people per day. Khaldun said the case rate in the Detroit Region is declining, however.

The Grand Rapids Region is at 59 cases per million people per day. Khaldun said the case rate is increasing.

In the Saginaw Region, officials are reporting 56 cases per million people per day, and that number has decreased, Khaldun said.

The Kalamazoo Region is at 50 cases per million people per day, but the case rate is trending upward, according to authorities.

Case rates in the Traverse City Region and Upper Peninsula have increased over the last week to 40 cases per million people per day, she said.

Both the Jackson and Lansing regions are under 40 cases per million people per day and declining, Khaldun said.

The overall positive test rate in Michigan is at 3.1%, which has decreased in the last two weeks, she said.

Michigan is performing 30,000 tests per day, which was fifth in the United States last week, according to Khaldun.

More coverage

Here’s much more recent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer’s handling of pandemic:

Reopening Michigan:

Health questions, advice:




Individual stories:


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.