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What to know from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 briefing

Whitmer addresses sports mask requirements, frontline workers

LANSING, Mich. – As Michigan begins to slowly reopen, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held another coronavirus (COVID-19) briefing Thursday.

Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of MDHHS, addressed her order requiring masks for fall sports, and in an unexpected turn, asked mothers and fathers to forego playdates.

On Thursday, Whitmer started her briefing by closing the loop on a proposal she made earlier in the spring. She wants frontline workers to have a reward for their service, and came up with “Futures For Frontliners.”

The program is modeled after the GI bill and will use $24 million from the Federal Cares Act.

Whitmer estimates 625,000 Michiganders will qualify for tuition-free college. Frontline workers -- part- or full-time -- who put in hours between April 1 and June 30 will qualify. Workers must apply by year’s end.

“Historically, when Americans put their lives on the line for our country, the betterment of our country, to defend us from a common enemy, a grateful nation has afforded them educational opportunities to show our gratitude,” Whitmer said.

For many parents, Whitmer sprang a bit of a surprise through Khaldun.

“Part of the fun of childhood is having gatherings with friends and playdates,” Khaldun said. “This social interaction is important for our children. I completely understand that, but please, consider not having those playdates as you normally would. Try to be creative and have video conference calls with your children.”

Whitmer put out a new executive order Wednesday night telling fall sport athletes they have to mask up while they play.

“It’s important that we can engage in some of these things that make life feel a little more normal, but we still have to be very smart about it for our student-athletes, for their families and for our educators,” Whitmer said.

Officials with the World Health Organization say children shouldn’t play sports while wearing masks because they restrict breathing, and the Cleveland Clinic reports running with a mask can cause chest pain, dizziness or lightheadedness.

In response to those opinions, Khaldun said wearing a mask is simply the safest way to play.


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