Michigan Gov. Whitmer: We need robust testing, help from feds to do it

Michigan Gov. Whitmer talks to NBC about her state's COVID-19 response
Michigan Gov. Whitmer talks to NBC about her state's COVID-19 response

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeared on the Today Show for an interview Wednesday with Craig Melvin that focused on how the governor plans to reopen her state amid the coronavirus pandemic and what she needs to get it done.

Watch the segment above, and read the exchange here:

Craig Melvin (CM): I heard President Trump say from the Rose Garden yesterday that he will talk to all 50 governors in the coming days to authorize the reopening of these states. Have you had a conversation with the President yet?

Gov. Whitmer (GW): Not since the press conference last night. We do have phone calls where the nation’s governors are on the line with the White House regularly, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see one pop up on my schedule again this week. You know the fact of the matter is governors have taken the lead here where we needed to. It was important to shut schools down and do stay home orders in various states of our nation. It was the governors who took that initiative. It is the governors that are going to determine when it is safe to reengage sectors of our economy. That’s just how it is. And, we’re gonna work with everyone in the federal government who is gonna support the efforts, and this is got to be a partnership. We’re not one of other enemies, the enemy is a virus called COVID-19 that is ravaging are country.

CM: How are you going to go about deciding reopening Michigan. What factors are you going to consider?

GW: I think the same factors you’re hearing from governors across the country. It’s knowing that we got a decline in number of tests coming in positively. It’s that we get robust testing, and that is still a struggle across this nation. We need some assistance from the federal government when it comes to swabs and reagents and making sure that we get the kind of robust testing that we need so we get data that we can actually rely on. You know these are two of the most important factors, but as we are making this determination it’s got to be centered around public health and mitigating spread. Knowing that our hospitals are equipped and have the PPE that they need to meet the needs of the people that need help desperately and not in crisis mode, but in a manageable way. So, these are a few of the factors that we’re all going to be looking at, certainly I’m going to be looking at in Michigan and regionally and when I work with my neighboring Governors.

CM: What’s the thinking behind your particular stay-at-home order?

GW: Well, let me tell you this: Michigan has the third most COVID-19 cases in the nation right now. And, we’re not the third largest state in the nation. That tells you that we got a unique crisis on our hands and it demands a unique solution. So, we just had snow. I got snow on the ground here in Michigan. I got snow on the ground in Lansing and we’re expecting up to 30 inches of snow in the Upper Peninsula. The fact that we’re cracking down on people traveling between homes or planting or landscaping or golfing, really, for a couple more weeks is not going to meaningfully impact people’s ability to do so, because the snow will do that itself. But, the more people that are traveling, the more people that are touching that gas pump is -- we know that COVID-19 can last 72 hours on stainless steel -- so think about the people that have to touch that gas pump, the nurses and the police and the paramedics and the pharmacist and the food clerks that are the true superheroes right now. If we’re all traveling and touching the same, that means we’re spreading COVID-19 and might actually take people off the front line who we desperately need. So, unless it’s a life sustaining activity, we’re asking people to stay at home to do their part and for a couple more weeks to really buckle down. We’re seeing our curve start to flatten, but we all have to continue doing our part.

CM: Let’s talk politics, real quick. Your name has been mentioned a few times as a possible vice presidential candidate. If Joe Biden were to ask, would you accept?

GW: (laughs) You know, I got my hands full with COVID-19 in the state of Michigan right now. I am 15 months in on a job that I worked two years to get. I’m not focusing on the national politics at the moment. I think the world of Joe Biden, and I’m fortunate to have my name considered along with an incredible group of female leaders across this country. And, I’m confident no matter who he chooses, we’re going to have a strong ticket that is focused on the right things and prepares this country for challenges that we face.

CM: It’s noted that Gov. Whitmer did not say, no.

GW: (laughs)

Michigan expands COVID-19 testing is expanding testing criteria for coronavirus to include those with mild symptoms. It has put a COVID-19 test site finder here.

On Tuesday, the state of Michigan announced it is expanding testing criteria for coronavirus to include those with mild symptoms. It has put a COVID-19 test site finder here.

More: Coronavirus in Michigan

View more COVID-19 data for Michigan here.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.