May 20, 2021
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Press Conference Transcript May 20: Mask Order Lifted July 1
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s May 20, 2021 coronavirus press conference. She announced that the outdoor gathering limit will be lifted on June 1, and the mask order will be lifted on July 1. Read the full transcript of her COVID-19 news briefing speech here.
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (06:10)
All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome. It is May 20th, Thursday, and I am joined today by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Mayor Maureen Donker, Jim Federline, the Dow chairman and CEO, Matt Felan the president of Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, and Chris Mundhenk, the general manager for the Dow Diamond. We are so happy to be here today.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (06:35)
Before I jump in, I just want to thank Dow for the incredible help that they’ve given the state of Michigan as we have navigated everything from historic flooding, to the need to get PPE and develop PPE here in Michigan, to their participation with the Michigan Economic Recovery Council and for loaning us a lot of their math geniuses to help us with our modeling. I’m just so grateful that they’ve been such an incredible partner.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (07:04)
Good afternoon. Today, I am going to provide an update on masks and then we will walk through some of the changes to the Back To Normal plan about building back our economy.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (07:16)
To date, Michigan has administered almost 7.9 million doses of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines to more than 4.6 million Michiganders ages 16 and up, with 57% of our eligible population receiving at least one dose. Cases and test positivity have declined for five straight weeks, hospitalizations have declined for three weeks in a row, and our COVID metrics are trending downward in Michigan and, of course, across the country. This is great news. Over 60% of American adults have gotten their first shots and almost half are fully vaccinated nationwide, so life is getting back to normal.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (08:04)
Last Thursday, the CDC released new guidance on masks based on the strength of vaccines and preventing infection and spread among vaccinated people. Now, the guidance stated that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or socially distance outdoors or indoors other than in certain medical spaces. We have adjusted our mask policy to match the CDC recommendation, so now in Michigan, fully-vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors or indoors unless required by their work or business.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (08:44)
Our recovery continues to pick up steam. Michigan’s unemployment rate is now 4.9%. That’s over a full point below the national average. In the past year, unemployment in Michigan has fallen by nearly 80% and we have added 968,000 jobs over the last year. But we still have work to do. We are still short of where we were before the pandemic and our economic recovery is going well, but we need to do and continue to do a lot more to invest in our families, small businesses and communities to help them succeed.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (09:24)
As with every decision that we’ve made throughout the pandemic, we are leading with science and data to keep you and your family safe. But the way to put this pandemic behind us is for everyone to get their shot. The vaccine is the best way to keep you and your family and the most vulnerable among us safe from COVID-19.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (09:47)
Recently, the Pfizer vaccine, manufactured right here in Michigan, was authorized for children ages 12 to 16. Tens of thousands of kids have already gotten their shot to protect themselves from COVID and its variants, and I encourage all parents with kids in that age range to speak to your doctors about this vaccine.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (10:11)
While millions of Michiganders have already gotten vaccinated, I know that many people still have questions, or some just want to wait it out. I want to speak to those people and answer some of their questions.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (10:25)
First, these vaccines are safe. Over 160 million Americans have taken it. It’s been rigorously tested and is trusted by doctors. Like other vaccines before it for polio and smallpox, the vaccine represents hope and healing. And even if you’ve had COVID, you should still get vaccinated to protect yourself from variants and repeat infection. If you received a monoclonal-antibody treatment, you should still get your shot, but you need to wait 90 days after the treatment. If you want to know more, I encourage you to speak with your family doctor and learn how vaccines can save your life and the lives of the people you love.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (11:07)
Now, let’s talk about some changes to the Back To Normal plan. As you can probably imagine, when the CDC came out last week with new mask guidance, we had to go back to the drawing board.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (11:20)
Come on, that’s kind of funny. You’re not paying attention.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (11:22)
All right. We went back to the drawing board. Originally our plan had four steps, each of which was tied to a percentage of Michiganders receiving their first shot plus two weeks. The first step started at 55%, and we hit that number pretty quickly. That means that we take the step on next Monday of getting people back in workplaces.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (11:45)
The following steps would have happened every 5% as our vaccinations grew. On May 10th, when we [inaudible 00:11:51] at 55%, we now will see MIOSHA take action to allow offices across Michigan to allow in- person work at workplaces. Next Monday, we’ll have a lot more detail to share on the MIOSHA rules for COVID-19 workplace safety.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (12:10)
Now, based on the new mask guidance, we have two steps to get back to normal. On June 1st, all right, June 1st, all outdoor capacity limits will be lifted including here at the Dow Diamond. You can come and cheer on the Loons. We will maintain …
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (12:27)
All right. The Dow Diamond folks are really excited, and I am too.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (12:33)
We will maintain our mask rule as already announced, but otherwise lift all mitigation measures on outdoor gatherings and only retain a 50% capacity limit on indoor establishments. That means that an indoor social gathering like a wedding or a funeral or a conference or a graduation party will be allowed to resume at 50% capacity through the month of June. In June, people who are not yet fully vaccinated are-
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (13:03)
In June, people who are not yet fully vaccinated are required to continue to mask up when they are indoors. MDHHS will officially release the updated order on Monday, so you can check it out that. On July 1, that is when we will take our final step. We will lift the broad mask and gatherings order, and we’ll no longer impose broad mitigation measures during the pandemic. Unless of course, unanticipated circumstances arise. We do not expect that to happen. We look at this as the last moment of these types of orders. We will be able to sing at church, dance at weddings, cheer at games, hug each other, and laugh together. I know that that is welcome news to so many. We may have one or more targeted orders in place to protect vulnerable populations, but for the most part, life will be back to normal and we can have the kind of Independence Day we’re all looking forward to.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (14:03)
After a year of living with COVID and with masks and distancing and hand-washing, I know how jarring any change to our daily lives feel. In this time of transition, I’m asking that people extend one another a little bit of grace. As we return to normal, we should remember that tough times don’t last but tough people do. We’ve gotten through this pandemic because of each other, because of our fellow Michiganders. As daily routines start to look more normal, we should recognize that everyone processes change at different speeds and in different ways. And so for the next few weeks and possibly months, some Michiganders will feel safer with a mask, even if they’ve been vaccinated, and that’s okay. Other Michiganders who may have been vaccinated are ready to go mask free, and that’s okay too. Either way, there should be no shaming or guilt tripping. Instead, I encourage people to have a conversation with their family doctor about the safe, effective vaccines, ask your questions, and learn more about how incredible they are and how they can help us get back to normal.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (15:09)
So personally, since I am two weeks past my second dose, I’m going mask free because I know it’s safe for my family, for me, and those around me. We should trust one another to make choices that are best for us. On July 1st, the broad mask rule will be lifted, but I want to be clear about the fact that businesses and workplaces are well within their rights to require masks as patrons go in. So, let’s give them our support as they navigate what’s best for them and their workforce and their patrons. There will ultimately come a day when masks will be distant memories, maybe in boxes in our basements, but until then, we’ve got to transition back to normalcy together and give each other some grace.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (15:54)
Now, as our economic recovery continues, our task is clear, build back better. Right now we have an opportunity to make transformative investments in Michigan’s fundamentals, in our schools, in our small businesses, in our communities. We have over a billion dollars in federal COVID relief funds sent to us by the Trump administration. You heard that right. Last year, they sent it to us and they’re still awaiting action in the legislature. I want to thank Midland’s Senator, Senator Stamas, and our Appropes chair, for helping get dollars out the door for Michiganders. And I look forward to continuing our partnership to do just that. We also have billions headed our way under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which includes $5.7 billion to the State of Michigan, $4.4 billion to local governments, and $3.9 billion to Michigan schools.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (16:48)
We need to think big right now, think outside the box. If we use these resources effectively, we can create thousands of good paying jobs for Michiganders and put us on a path to prosperity that far outlast our recovery from COVID. In addition to these federal funds, we also have the state budget, and I laid out my budget priorities back in February. My budget proposal focuses on people, projects, and potential. Largest investment in K-12 education in our history, without raising taxes, invest $370 million to lower childcare costs, in some cases, down to zero for 150,000 Michigan families, beefs up the Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners, puts $300 million toward fixing bridges, $290 million in the MI Clean Water Plan to build up water infrastructure and create thousands of good paying jobs. So to meet this moment, we have to work together in a civil bipartisan way. We got to get these billions and aid out the door for Michiganders now.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (17:56)
Our jobs numbers are headed in the right direction, and we still have work to do to get back to our pre-pandemic levels of employment and beyond. I look forward to getting these budgets done and spending these federal dollars in the smartest way to benefit all Michiganders. In the weeks and months ahead, as we emerge from this pandemic, my administration will double down on the kitchen table issues that have guided our agenda from day one, a great education for every Michigan child, better paying jobs and path to education and skills, clean air and water, reliable roads and bridges, and much more. I am excited about the opportunity in front of us, and I’ll continue to work to make sure we realize our potential. So with that, thank you. I’m going to hand it over to the lieutenant governor, and then we’ll go from there. Thanks.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (18:55)
Thank you, Governor, and good afternoon, everyone. I also want to acknowledge and thank Governor Whitmer for her leadership. I also want to acknowledge Jim Fitterling, Dow, the mayor, others who have joined us here today for this important announcement about how we’re going to move forward together, the pathway to the back end of this pandemic. I’m really thrilled to be here in Midland, here at the Dow Diamond. When we marked the one year anniversary, excuse me, of our first COVID cases, we stood in stadiums like this that were empty, addressing the hardships that we have been through as a state. But all of us, even at that moment when we were low, we had hope, hope that we’d be able to fill stadiums like this one, stadiums like the Breslin Center, stadiums like The Big House, to enjoy a musical or a play at the thousands of theater venues across the State of Michigan, or like the Fox Theatre in my hometown of Detroit, and of course enjoy the sports that we love and that connect us across any device.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (20:10)
With every passing day, we move closer to reaching and reclaiming that sense of normalcy that we have all been craving. We must continue to encourage every person in Michigan who’s eligible to make the choice to get vaccinated. This is the safest, this is the pathway for us to make sure that we can protect one another in addition to protecting ourselves, and that we can enable the opportunity that we know lies before us. In this particular area, I know that we’re no stranger to coming together, because we faced unimaginable circumstances here in Mid Michigan. Shortly after the flooding that happened in this area, I was able to come out and personally tour where the dams fell. I was inspired to see how quickly the people of Midland and Sanford came together to support one another. I was actually equally inspired by the way that people from every corner of the State of Michigan really stepped up to stand tall for their Michigan neighbors, and friends, and family, and yet strangers, because they knew that that helping hand was necessary. I’ve also visited Sanford Park for cleanup project and toward the M30 bridge that was rebuilt in partnership with community and with the Michigan Department of Transportation. I’m thankful for those employees and team members who worked tirelessly to repair that bridge and do so, so quickly, recognizing how critical that infrastructure is to this community. So many people have opened their doors to friends and family in need of shelter, in need of support. It’s like everyone coming together after this historic flooding event to start the next chapter, and the people of Mid Michigan have stepped up and begun writing. And that’s why one year later, Governor Whitmer and I are here to show, not only that we continue to maintain support, but that support is not going anywhere.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (22:22)
Now, since the start of the pandemic, the governor had been focused on trying to do the right things, on acting quickly, on following the science, on listening to experts. And because of not only governor’s leadership but because people across the state, elected appointed leaders, community leaders, individuals have stepped up, Michigan is on our way to getting back to normal and rebuilding and re-imagining our economy. We have so many resources that the state has contributed and committed to supporting not only the survival, but supporting those who are going to be coming out bigger and better after this pandemic is over, whether it’s programs like our Small Business Restart Grants, programs to support restaurant owners and workers, programs to support the first responders and the people who’ve been working all weird during this pandemic to make sure that we could continue life and sustain it.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (23:22)
We are looking forward to continuing those investments and leveraging every resource so that we can emerge from this pandemic stronger and better connected than ever. We’ll leverage all of the resources of state government to rebuild this economy back better, harnessing every economic tool at our disposal, and working with leaders in government, leaders in the private sector and beyond to create an environment where entrepreneurs, where people with ideas no matter where they live in Michigan, can bring those ideas forward into reality, to create good paying jobs and opportunities for all Michiganders. Just yesterday, we saw how Michigan’s economy is moving forward. As our unemployment rate is lower than national average, we’ve added jobs for three consecutive months. 968,000 jobs have been added over the past year. That is real progress, progress toward getting Michiganders and our economy back to normal.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (24:23)
The governor will remain focused on economic recovery resilience, and most of all opportunity for all, but one of the most important steps, which we cannot reiterate enough is making the choice to get vaccinated. Since I last spoke with the press corps, I’ve had a chance to receive my second dose in Flint, Michigan. I’m proud now to be counted amongst the people who have gotten both shots. This is our best shot to be free from this pandemic and the quickest way to getting our country and our communities back to where we want them to be, where we can hug one another, we can get back to work, we can go to restaurant, we can send our kids to school to play sports without the thought and the fears that we’ve all had to live with.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (25:12)
But even now, there’s still conversations to be had with people who have questions. Those questions are okay, and those questions have answers. It’s important to recognize that we all have the power to encourage someone to make that choice, and that every person in Michigan who has not yet chosen to get vaccinated is just one conversation away. That’s why we formed the Protect Michigan Commission to connect people with the information and resources from credible sources that they could trust, from community resources that people have relationships with and have had self-regenerations, to use that credibility, to demonstrate the credibility of the vaccine. And this effort has required the biggest, broadest coalition of leaders for anything we faced in Michigan-
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (26:03)
Broadest coalition of leaders for anything we faced in Michigan. It’s the largest and most diverse commission that we’ve appointed and it’s working, as people choosing to get vaccinated every single day. So I want to challenge Michiganders, especially those who have already gotten at least one vaccine dose, to talk about your experience. To let people know whether you had questions, whether it took a little convincing to get you to that decision point. The vaccine sites that I’ve toured, speaking with nurses who come out of retirement to help this effort they talk about calming and comforting people. As they sit down to get their vaccine dose. Those nurses are public servants. They are heroes and miracle workers because they are helping people get back to normal.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (26:53)
So I want you to make sure that you’re using every resource you have, that you send a text message to someone today. That you sent a Facebook message to someone today. That you have a conversation on the phone or in person with someone today. Because we all know people who may not have yet made that choice. But if we make every effort we can get to and beyond having 70% of people in Michigan vaccinated, we can see the finish line coming into focus and now we got to give it everything we have. This is essential and it’s the most important choice that people in Michigan can make right now. Along with our partners in the federal government, Governor Whitmer and I have committed to making sure that we can grow our economy back stronger and better. We’re going to use everything at our disposal to make that happen.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (27:41)
This has shown us in this pandemic that Michiganders really can do anything. We are capable of any and everything when we come together and work together to do extraordinary things. We’ve seen that spirit here in Midland, in a matter of hours this community came together to start recovering from a once in 500 year flood to mobilize and evacuate to safety, tens of thousands of people with not a single casualty. That is the embodiment of hope, determination, and grit. That is in the DNA of every person who calls Michigan home. So I hope that every person who’s watching from around the state can channel that energy that is so present and is represented by these people and these leaders in this part of our state today.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (28:34)
So thank you all for having me today. Thank you all for really, truly standing tall for one another and standing tall for the state of Michigan. And let’s remember to reach out to one another, to take care of one another, to be there for one another. Let’s make sure every Michigander knows that every other Michigander has their back. And now it’s my honor to turn the podium here over the mayor of this great city.
Speaker 6: (29:05)
Hello. I think our Lieutenant Governor just did a wonderful job telling our story. And I wanted to take this opportunity to thank our Governor and her team for coming here today to check on us a year after we went into this catastrophic disaster. And I also want to say, thank you for being there for us a year ago, as we were trying to figure out how we were going to respond to this. I think what you see is a wonderful example of the grit that we have as a community. We have come a long way in that last year. This is a wonderful example of neighbor helping neighbor, of family, friends, and yes, as the Lieutenant Governor said, even strangers coming from across the state in our country to help us.
Speaker 6: (29:56)
For us, we feel that we truly are the kind of community that everyone would want to live in. And I have to say after seeing the response that we got from our state and country, it was really very humbling for us to see how we help one another as a state and as a country. We’ve come a long way in this year and we have a long way yet to go. But hearing that we’re going to be opening up even more is so important to us as we go through this recovery. We are looking forward to moving forward, but it’s going to take us some time, but I know that we can do it.
Speaker 6: (30:39)
Seeing I have this opportunity, I just need to say to my fellow citizens of Midland County, how proud I am of all of you. And I hope that you are proud, also, of what you have accomplished in this past year. My thanks to all of you and it is incredibly humbling to serve you as your mayor. So now it is my opportunity to introduce to you Jim Fitterling our wonderful president and CEO of Dow, one of the organizations that was incredibly important in this recovery effort, Jim.
Jim Fitterling: (31:20)
Good day everyone. Governor Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist, thank you again for coming to Midland today, and I should say many times over this past year. And thanks for participating in the pulling our weight cleanup event in Sanford this morning, I think it was a very great way for you to connect with the community.
Jim Fitterling: (31:37)
This community has endured a lot and it has come a long way, but as you saw, we still have a lot of work to do. One year ago you and I were in Lansing and a Dow introduced a return to the workplace playbook to allow employers to be able to go to work safely. And here we are a year later and we’re getting ready to open wide up in the state of Michigan. That night, when I drove back it was heavy rainstorm and the dams breached the next day. We would see each other again at the end of the week, when you came up. And I remember in your press briefing then you struck a very optimistic tone that this is a strong community, and we get through it together. In times of crisis, the spirit of community comes through and it did across all five of these counties that were impacted. And as you saw while touring Sanford this morning, that’s exactly what is happening.
Jim Fitterling: (32:31)
A special thanks to the thousands of volunteers all over these five counties. To all the Dow employees and retirees who were part of that effort, who continue to give selflessly to help the communities and families affected by the floods. To all the foundations. To all the civic organizations. And to people, volunteers from all over the state of Michigan that came up here to help people in need clean out their basements, get what furniture out and get things ready to be cleaned up and start their lives again. Your announcement today about opening up the state is a big step toward reclaiming part of our lives that many of us took for granted prior to the pandemic, and it’s time, it’s time for us to get on with life.
Jim Fitterling: (33:16)
Here in the Great Lakes Bay Region we’re excited to have the Great Lakes Loons back in action at Dow Diamond this summer, something that didn’t happen last year. And we’re looking forward to welcoming fans back in July for the Dow Great Lakes Bay invitation. I want to thank your team for working with us and all of the other LPGA and PGA sponsors across the state to help us come up with a way to bring fans back to those events.
Jim Fitterling: (33:41)
This is also welcome news for many of the businesses that have struggled over the past year with restricted hours or closures. They’ve been on the front lines of battling COVID and they’ve made sacrifices for the community that should not be overlooked or forgotten. We are all optimistic about a world with fewer COVID restrictions, but we all need to do our part. And as Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist so eloquently said, we are blessed to have access to life-saving vaccines in this country, and the United States is leading the way in vaccination. You can be vaccinated today across the state of Michigan because these vaccines are available now and they are safe and they are effective. I would encourage you to get the vaccine like I did. It will be the best thing you can do for yourself, your friends, your family, and the state of Michigan.
Jim Fitterling: (34:40)
A team of Dow supply chain experts has worked with the state for the past several months to make sure that they could help get the data and the modeling they need to make critical decisions to do things like get those vaccines distributed all over this great state.
Jim Fitterling: (34:56)
We’re very fortunate to have a strong community here and have community leaders with us who have led every step of the way so that we can get to this point. We’re all committed to working with the Governor, our policymakers, and our local businesses to come out of this stronger. And we have a path forward to build back these dams and get back to everything being normal in this region. Again. So Governor, Lieutenant Governor, thank you again for being in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Thank you for being in Midland. You’re welcome here any time. And I’d like to bring Matt Felan, the President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. Matt.
Matt Felan: (35:39)
Good afternoon everyone. Great for you to be out here today. I too would like to recognize the Governor and Lieutenant Governor who have been frequent visitors here to the Great Lakes Bay Region and specifically to Midland and Sanford, following what has been an epically difficult year.
Matt Felan: (35:55)
Today, I just wanted to recognize people across the Great Lakes Bay Region who have heated the guidance and advice of the Whitmer administration to get vaccinated. When I was driving over here, I wanted to get the latest numbers to really get a good idea of what our region is doing. And as of this morning, 59% of adults in Midland County have received their first vaccine, 56% of adults in Bay County, 51% of adults in Saginaw County and 48% of adults in Isabella County. This is about the people in the Great Lakes Bay Region and across the state of Michigan taking matters into their own hands. I would really like to thank our citizens across this region, who said we want to defeat COVID and get a return to normalcy. It’s through their willingness and their desire to put this behind us, that they’ve gotten this vaccine and put us in a wonderful position to have a full ballpark again, on June 1st.
Matt Felan: (36:57)
I share the message of the fellow leaders today in that we still have more work to do. What’s great is these numbers are only going to continue to rise over the course of the next several months. I’ll be honest it’s a surreal feeling to be up here maskless. to hear that in just a few weeks this stadium will be packed. And to understand that by July 1st, we can all return to the normalcy that we once had.
Matt Felan: (37:23)
I’ll say the other part about people across this region is that they are ready to return to their normal lives. There’s so many things that they want to do. And number one is get back to work, get back to their offices, get back to producing. We as a region and a state have a tremendous opportunity to grow our economy, but it only happens if we go back to work. And I have the pleasure of wearing multiple hats and one of those hats is a school board member. And I can tell you it’s been an extraordinarily challenging past year for students across the Great Lakes Bay Region and the state. They are eager to learn. They are eager to get back to normal. And hopefully for the work that we all do and increasing vaccination through the course of the next several months, we’re going to go into a school year where our kids can get the type of education that they so badly deserve and need.
Matt Felan: (38:15)
So again, I want to thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for being here today, for their leadership on this issue and for putting us really in the right direction as we head into the summer months. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to the guy’s home that we’re in the new President and General Manager of the Great Lakes Loons, Chris Mundhenk.
Chris Mundhenk: (38:43)
Thank you Matt. On behalf of the entire Loons organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League and Minor League Baseball, welcome to beautiful Dow Diamond. We’re thrilled to share this extraordinary day with you all. And a day that’s not just extraordinary for the Loons and our incredible fans-
Chris Mundhenk: (39:03)
It’s not just extraordinary for the Loons and our incredible fans, but every outdoor entertainment venue in the great state of Michigan. 429 days ago, on March 16th, 2020, our community stepped into the batter’s box and encountered an opponent we had never seen before. And one that we thought could only exist in textbooks. The COVID pandemic forced us to make tough decisions, and put our lives on hold so we could keep our friends, our families, our colleagues, and even strangers safe from an opponent that we could not see. We traded bleachers for couches, catcher’s masks for face masks, and live sports and entertainment for binge watching TV. From Sherman Field in Houghton, to Comerica Park in Detroit. From LMCU Ballpark in Grand Rapids to Dow Diamond here in Midland, sports fans from all across our state put their fandom and rivalries aside and came together as one team, Team Michigan. And today we have won the game.
Chris Mundhenk: (40:24)
The list of people to think for getting us to this moment is long, but every single one of you deserves our sincere thanks and gratitude for your leadership, dedication, and perseverance over the past 14 months. To Governor Whitmer and her team, thank you for your leadership, poise, and professionalism through every tough decision made to keep Michiganders safe. To sports fans all across the state, thank you for supporting your hometown teams even when you could not attend a game. Your unwavering support during this challenging time has helped ensure that field lights stay on and your teams remain a pillar in your community. Our sports teams are so excited to be welcoming back full crowds to our facilities once again, for our players to once again hear the roar of the crowd, and for our staffs to rekindle valued friendships with our fans. To my fellow Michiganders, thank you for doing your part to keep each other safe. When asked, you stayed at home, you masked up, you got vaccinated, and now we can come together once again.
Chris Mundhenk: (41:55)
Lastly, the greatest thanks to our front line and essential workers. To the healthcare workers in our hospitals, the grocery store workers that kept our shelves stocked around the clock, the teachers who never gave up on educating our children, and everyone in between, we will forever be indebted to you. Your bravery and sacrifices are the reason we are all here today. I could not be prouder to call the great state of Michigan home. We are Michiganders. We are resilient. We are back, and together, we are going to be better than ever. Thank you.
Chris Mundhenk: (42:46)
And at this time, in honor of this moment, an important moment for us as well as all the other sports teams throughout the state, we’d like to offer our gratitude and sincere thanks to our governor and lieutenant governor and present each of you with a Loons jersey.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (43:04)
All right. Thank you. Thank you. Well, thank you. I’m so grateful for all of the participants today and the incredible work that is happening in Sanford to go and help a little bit of the cleanup and to take a tour with Delores in Sanford and walk through the town with Jim. I mean, it was just really heartwarming to see how a community can come together after all these crises that converge. So it’s always inspirational to come to this part of the state. So let’s jump in. Eric, I’m going to call on you first, because you laughed at my joke earlier.
So far, the [inaudible 00:43:59] back to normal plan was a way of using vaccines as an incentive, or using reopening as an incentive to get vaccines. Now, with that not being tied to those metrics, what is your confidence [inaudible 00:44:14] and what happens if we never do?
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (44:15)
Well, I’m hopeful that we get to 70%. the more people that get vaccinated, the better for all of our sake, and here’s why. When this virus continues to spread, it can mutate. And at some point, maybe there’ll be a mutation that our vaccines aren’t as good against. And that’s why getting more people vaccinated is good for everyone. So our efforts to do that are not stopping. In fact, we are doing more mobile units than ever, getting to people where they are. But we also know that the brilliant down modelers told us that about this time we would see supply eclipse demand and it would slow down. And in fact, that’s exactly what we’re seeing. And that’s why getting people’s questions answered, meeting people where they are, these are critical components to us increasing the number of people that get vaccinated.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (45:03)
I also want to encourage people who are not vaccinated. I mean, the rule is if you’re indoors, you need to wear your mask. That falls away July 1st. It is still going to be the smartest policy to stay safe if you are someone who is not vaccinated, to mask up when you’re indoors, especially with people from outside your household. We’re hoping that we will get to 70%. We’ve got a lot of partners, whether it’s health systems or employers who are working with us to do just that. But at this point we know the CDC changed the landscape. It was a little bit of a surprise, good news to be sure, but we had to recalibrate our plan, and that’s what I think you see.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (45:44)
Now I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people who say, “Can we have a million dollar raffle like they’re doing in Ohio?” Trust me, I’ve heard a lot of people are interested in that. Michigan law precludes us from doing that, but we are investigating if there are additional ways that we can encourage people to get vaccinated. But the most powerful reason is because it’ll keep you safe. It’ll keep your loved one safe, and they’ll help us all have confidence as we’re out in the public. Yes.
Speaker 7: (46:09)
Governor, why are you making this change? Why do you feel confident to make this change now, and what does this mean for curfews [inaudible 00:46:18].
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (46:17)
So the curfews are dropped as well. What we know is that when the CDC came out with this new rule, they have confidence that the science bears out that if you are vaccinated, you are safe to go without a mask in all places. That is great news. It also was confusing to a lot of people, and that’s why we wanted to make sure that our policies mirrored the CDC’s recommendation and that we gave people clarity. So June 1 and then July 1, those are the two steps, we’ve collapsed the back to normal, because it just became very clear that it was important for us to give people sure dates and confidence that we can be safe doing this. And so that’s why we’ve reconfigured the plan. Yes.
Speaker 8: (47:04)
Governor, when you say June 1 is 50% capacity, is that what the restaurant curfew is lifted, June 1? And can you clarify [inaudible 00:47:16] some of my colleagues were confused, July 1 when you say the final step to lift the broad mitigation measures, does that mean 50% capacity [inaudible 00:47:30].
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (47:29)
Yes and yes. All right.
Speaker 9: (47:33)
Governor, my question is, so looking at the idea that no one has to wear a mask from July 1st, gives the impression that [inaudible 00:47:44]. But what does it say to businesses especially that want to check vaccine cards? Do you have any comments on that? [inaudible 00:47:59].
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (47:59)
So first I think it’s important to acknowledge, the safest thing you can do is get vaccinated. And then you can enjoy all of these things that we’ve all been just so eager to re-engage. Second, if you are un-vaccinated, you choose not to get vaccinated or you’re unable to get vaccinated for some medical reason, we’re going to strongly encourage people to continue to mask up, especially when they are indoors with people outside their household. But that’s going to be encouragement, that will not be through some sort of an order that comes from the state. Remind me of the second part of your question.
Speaker 9: (48:30)
Any comment on [inaudible 00:48:32].
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (48:31)
Oh yes. Well, we want to make sure part of our call is to extend some grace to one another and to respect businesses who decide that they want to continue to have some form of mask requirement. Some businesses may have an employee who’s going through chemotherapy and is immune compromised and they want their customers to make sure that they’re masked up so that that employee is safe. We need to extend the grace and show some respect to these businesses and ask that everyone do exactly that and follow the needs and the lead of individual business rules. They still are within their right to do exactly that. Yeah, Rick. Oh, sorry. I’m on a roll. Rick, go ahead.
Just a few weeks ago, all the metrics [inaudible 00:49:22]. I appreciate the CDC changed [inaudible 00:49:30].
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (49:32)
I mean, the CDC change was based on their most recent understanding of the science. And so when they promulgated that, it wasn’t just confusing for Michiganders. I’ve talked to enough of my colleagues across the country on both sides of the aisle, and everyone had to move quickly to give some clarity and to make the state rules sing on the same page with the CDC guidelines. That’s precisely what we’re doing. Now, the CDC has driven a lot of our policies over the course of the last year and a half. They are the ones who are conversant in all of the studies. Certainly, Dr. Khaldun and our incredible experts here in Michigan have been a part of that conversation as well, but we’ve been following the CDC in large part. When they came up with this new policy recommendation, we wanted to make sure that the people of Michigan had clarity, but to be certain the best way to stay safe is to be vaccinated, and that it continues to be the case. All right. I’m going to do one more. I know you’re trying to cut me off. Yes.
Speaker 10: (50:36)
The legislative proposal to require the governor to alert the legislature if they travel outside of the state, what are your thoughts?
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: (50:42)
I think that that’s gamesmanship. It’s not productive, and it is probably not constitutional as well. All right. Thank you everybody. Thank you.
Speaker 11: (50:52)
Thanks for coming out. And you did a great job.