Gov. Whitmer defends Michigan health director vacationing out of state amid COVID surge

Director Elizabeth Hertel traveled to Alabama without being full vaccinated

Gov. Whitmer defends state health director vacationing out of state amid COVID surge

LANSING, Mich.Gov. Gretchen Whitmer faced backlash after two of her aides traveled out of the state on spring break.

The issue began last Friday when pictures appeared online of Whitmer’s Chief Operating Officer Tricia Foster on vacation in Florida. The state said she was fully vaccinated but the governor had just spoken of personal responsibility that day, even cautioning against travel to Florida a week prior.

READ: Aide to Gov. Whitmer travels to Florida despite Governor’s travel warning

On Wednesday, Whitmer was asked about Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel spending spring break in Alabama without being fully vaccinated.

“There have never been travel restrictions in Michigan, there just haven’t been. What we have done is to ask people to be smart to get vaccinated to mask up,” she said. “What directors do on their personal time is their business.”

But The Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley said, “There were travel restrictions in Michigan. We opposed them, we objected to her shutdown orders that prevented travel within the state ... There’s also been plenty hypocrisy out of the governor’s office.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey told The Detroit News that he was OK with Hertel’s vacation, and House Speaker Jason Wentworth agreed with Whitmer on rejecting new COVID restrictions.

READ: Michigan urges spring break travelers to get tested for COVID, offers pop-up sites

READ: Michigan residents trying to fly back from Florida hit with delays, cancellations

About the Author:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.