Jun 1, 2020
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Press Conference Transcript June 1
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Monday, June 1 press conference. Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order and will allow bars and restaurants to open June 8. Read the full transcript of her news briefing speech here.
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (00:28)
Good afternoon. It is Monday, June 1st. I am joined today by the lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist and our chief medical executive, Dr. Janae Khaldun.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (00:38)
The past three months has been hard. It has been tough, and it has been uniquely hard on the state of Michigan. We have collectively been devastated by a global pandemic, one that has killed more than 5,000 men and women in this state. Now we are seeing the historic inequities of racial injustice coming to a tipping point in communities across America, including communities here in Michigan, not to mention the fact that we’ve been through a 500-year flooding episode.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (01:11)
I want to begin by once again acknowledging the disproportionate adversity people of color, African-American communities are facing, whether it’s because they’ve been hit hardest by the spread of COVID-19 or because the death of George Floyd has once again shown a light on the systematic cycle of injustice in our country. To the overwhelming majority who have taken to the streets and protested peacefully, protesting, historic inequities, black Michiganders, and those across the country are facing, I hear you. I see you. I respect you, and I support your efforts to enact real structural change in America. I cannot begin to understand your level of exhaustion, the constant stress and pain in the African-American community, but I know that it is understandable and it is justified.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (02:14)
I also know that the pain of the convergence of these two crises, the health crisis and the social crisis will be felt by those who can bear it the least, communities of color who’ve paid a dear price for a virus that exposes chronic disparities in health outcomes, the poor who will surely struggle to overcome these crises and black businesses and communities that will be destroyed in the wake of people coming into communities under the guise of support, but who are instigating violence and vandalism.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (02:54)
We must all, collectively, be the solutions to the problems that we are confronting. We’ve got to summon the courage and the self-discipline to confront these crises in nonviolent ways so that we can be impactful and make the change we want to see, keeping the focus on justice for George Floyd and his family and loved ones and those who came before him and the many whose names we may or may not know, and for those who continue to live in constant fear. We must pursue action and reforms that will address the immediate pain and the systemic injustice.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (03:36)
To the organizers of the demonstrations, please continue to demonstrate and designate a route and timeframe and encourage everyone to be safe and do everything you can to ensure safe social distancing and wear your masks. To everyone who can check in on your loved ones and make sure they’re okay. Come August and November, vote for someone you believe will enact real cultural change in our sheriff’s and mayor’s offices and our district and state attorney’s offices. These actions will make a difference. We will get through this. We will see real change when we lock arms together and work together.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (04:21)
Now, I want to shift gears and talk about steps that we are taking here in Michigan to continue re-engaging sectors of our economy. While this has been a challenging time, we’ve made some sacrifices when it comes to the global pandemic and we’re seeing our numbers continue to improve, and that is cause for feeling optimistic.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (04:44)
This morning, I took a few moments to read a powerful essay written by our former president, Barack Obama, about how we can make this moment a turning point for real change in our country. We all need optimism. I felt hopeful and inspired in a way that I hadn’t for a while. Then I joined a call with my fellow governors a couple hours ago with the current administration, and it was deeply disturbing. Instead of offering support or leadership to bring down the temperature of protests, the president told governors to put it down or we’d be overridden. He said governors should dominate protestors or you’ll look like a bunch of jerks. That’s what he said to the nation’s governors a couple hours ago. He repeatedly and viciously attacked governors who are doing everything we can to keep the peace while we’re working to save lives in a once-in-a-generation pandemic.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (05:48)
I generally don’t discuss what is said on those calls regardless of how outrageous some of it is, but it already seemed as though much of it was in the press before the call had concluded and, two, I think these dangerous comments are gravely concerning because of the clear signal that it says that they’re determined to sow seeds of hatred and division in a time where we need to bring the temperature down. I fear that it will only lead to more violence and destruction, and we must reject that way of thinking.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (06:21)
This is a moment that calls for empathy and humanity and unity. This is one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history, but as Americans, we have to remember that the enemy here is racial injustice, not each other. Let us heed the powerful words of President Obama in that essay, to channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained and effective action. It’s time for us all to pull together and do the hard work of building a nation that works for everyone.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (06:57)
Here in Michigan that means we’re in a position where we can turn the dial a little bit more in re-engage sectors of our economy and do it in a safe manner because of the sacrifice that you’ve already made. We can’t let our guard down, but now we are in a position to move forward.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (07:16)
Today, I signed an executive order moving the entire state of Michigan to Phase Four of the My Safe Start Plan. I’ve also rescinded the safer-at-home order, provided that Michiganders can continue to do their part wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands and keeping COVID-19 from spreading again. Later this week, I plan to issue an executive order to move Regions Six and Eight to Phase Five. It will depend on the numbers, of course, and we’ll be watching it closely.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (07:51)
Local leaders always retain the ability to keep restrictions in place if they think they need them. I encourage local leaders to work with DHHS and the state emergency operation center, to work with their local public health, and to work with their local hospital systems as they make those determinations. But the data has shown that we’re ready to carefully move our state into this next phase, but we owe it to our frontline heroes to make sure we get this right. On behalf of our healthcare workers, our first responders, our grocery workers, childcare, utility workers, and everyone else who’s been working to keep us safe from the beginning, we all have to keep doing our part.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (08:38)
The shift to Phase Four will occur in stages. Effective immediately groups of a hundred or less can gather outdoors so long as they maintain strict social distancing. Outdoor fitness classes are permitted so long as participants can remain six feet from one another. Office work that is not capable of being performed at home can resume, though you’re still expected to work from home if it is possible. Drive-in movie theaters can start operating. House cleaning services and other in-home services can also resume.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (09:17)
On Thursday, retailers that have been closed can reopen with capacity limits. On this coming Monday, restaurants can reopen for indoor and outdoor seating, so long as tables can be kept six feet from one another. That means you must maintain social distancing in these places and wearing your mask and making sure that you continue to do your part. In restaurants, it’ll be 50% or less of capacity, so long as you’re maintaining that six feet.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (09:53)
Day camps can resume their activities subject to further guidelines on how we will keep our kids safe. That is next Monday.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (10:03)
You can find a full list of businesses that may reopen in the full executive order at michigan.gov/coronavirus. In fact, what you’ll see is a list that cannot reopen, and that’s precisely what we’re trying to do here. Before we have said the vast majority need to stay home except for a handful of exceptions that we’ve grown. At this point, we’re saying you can return to some more normal life, unless you are in this particular part of the economy. We’re trying to flip our mindset here, and I think that that is really good news.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (10:41)
As always, businesses that are permitted to reopen must have strict safety measures so that they can protect their workers, their customers, and their families and clients. It’s good news. We still have a strict responsibility to make sure that every one of us is doing our part to lower the chance of a devastating second wave. May was hard. April was hard. The last part of March was as well. We don’t want to repeat this in the fall, so please take your role seriously and keep doing your part.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (11:18)
We need to continue following the data, especially in the Grand Rapids region. But if the current trajectory continues, I anticipate in the next few weeks, we’ll be able to announce the rest of the state moving into Phase Five. No one wants to move backwards, but if we see a spike coming, we may have to. So please keep doing your part. If you choose to go to a restaurant or to an outdoor fitness class, be smart. We all have a responsibility here.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (11:50)
While Michiganders are no longer required to stay home, we must all continue to practice social distancing and encourage those who meet the criteria to get tested for COVID-19. It is important that we continue to ramp up and get tested. Last week, I signed an executive order that expands the types of medical personnel that can order a test to include nurses, physician’s assistants and pharmacists. We create a new category of community testing sites that offer testing to anyone with reason to be tested without an advance order and without charging an out-of-pocket cost to any Michigander. Dr. Khaldun has also announced expanded criteria. Michiganders eligible for testing include someone who exhibits any symptom of COVID-19, has been exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms, has been working outside their home for at least 10 days or resides or works in a congregate setting, like a longterm-care facility, prison or jail, homeless shelter or migrant camp. If you go to a community testing location, medical personnel will be able to order testing upon your arrival.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (13:03)
Medical personnel will be able to order testing upon your arrival. A person who wishes to be tested may call the Michigan coronavirus hotline at 888-535-6136, or visit michigan.gov/coronavirustest to find an appropriate testing location. Getting tested is simple. I went to the Sparrow Drive-Thru testing site in Lansing. It was quick, it was simple, and while the pictures looked funny, it was painless. So if you fit this expanded criteria, please get a test.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (13:37)
On Thursday I called the federal government to ensure flexibility, and financial support for states like Michigan, so that we can recover from this pandemic. We also need help from the federal government to encourage everyone to get tested. We need the White House to create a specific longterm plan outlining how the federal government will ensure we have the adequate testing supplies we need, so we can gather the data that we need to make informed decisions about re-engaging our economies across the country. And we would all benefit from a guarantee of free testing nationwide, coupled with robust federal messaging campaign, to ensure Americans get tested. Most people don’t know that they can get tested now, or they’re afraid the process will be painful, invasive, or costs them too much money. When in reality, it’s simple, and it’s quick, and it’s in many locations, free. We’re taking a big step forward today in Michigan. There’s a crucial individual work we have to do to avoid a second wave. And so it’s on all of you to do your part. My message to you is stay smart, stay safe. And if you fit the criteria, get tested. It’s on all of us to get this right. We’ve come a long way together. And there’s no doubt, we’ve made a lot of sacrifice. And it’s been tough. It’s been hard on our communities, and our small business owners, and our neighbors, and our loved ones. We’ve lost too many to this virus. So I want to thank you, repeatedly day after day, those of you who’ve done your part to get us to this moment. And to the brave, heroic men and women on the frontline who never left and took care of us in our greatest time of need, even at your own expense. I’ll continue to work around the clock on your behalf. Thank you. We would not have gotten here without your bravery, your compassion and your leadership.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (15:34)
So it is June 1st, and I want to end today’s remarks by wishing Happy Pride to Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community. Remember to celebrate safely, practice social distancing, and wear your masks. With that, I’ll turn it over to the Lieutenant Governor, Garlin Gilchrist.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (16:06)
Thank you, governor. And I also want to acknowledge and show gratitude for the service of Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, our state’s chief medical executive. Another amazing leader that we are blessed to have here in the state of Michigan. As a black man in America, it is hard enough to breathe on most days, but the last few months, this has become even more difficult. The scab covering the wounds of oppression has once again been ripped off. Black people across our nation are suffering and suffocating from an injustice that we know all too well. Our administration, the most representative of our state’s people in our state’s history feels this. And we are here to heal. We are simultaneously facing two of the most consequential crises of our lifetimes; COVID-19, and the persistence of police brutality. As always the pain of the convergence of these crises is being felt by those in the communities that can bear it the least.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (17:16)
George Floyd’s final words have become a rallying cry for a nation that has not been able to breathe. In fact, black communities are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from generations of saying that we cannot breathe. We can’t breathe when the knee of injustice is pressed against our necks. We can’t breathe when a virus that is disproportionately killing our brothers and sisters is present. That is why it is more important than ever that we dedicate each breath to peaceful action. To the overwhelming majority of the people of Michigan who have taken this moment to demonstrate, who are doing so peacefully through the peaceful, impactful nonviolence that has precipitated change throughout our nation’s history, thank you for stepping up in that manner. Please remain vigilant, please practice social distancing, please wear your masks, if you do choose to demonstrate.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (18:24)
These experiences are not unique to me. And they aren’t unique to the city of Detroit. They’re not even unique to the State of Michigan. These are experiences that many people have felt for our entire lives. The experience that we are faced with, that we are forced to endure, because the people with the most power, the people who make the rules have not shared the same experiences that we have. Yet when our nation is at its greatest need for a unifying voice, the rhetoric from our nation’s highest office has been one of division, distraction, and destruction. During this tremendously tumultuous time I often think back to the words of WEB Dubois, which he wrote more than 100 years ago. He said that the most difficult social problem in the matter of the Negro’s health is the peculiar attitude of the nation toward the wellbeing of the race. There have, for instance, been few other cases in the history of civilized people where human suffering has been viewed with such peculiar indifference.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (19:39)
The struggles that we face under the systems that we operate, they didn’t just happen. They weren’t ordained by God. Rather, they were designed by men. They’re designed by people who are indifferent to some of these situations. But what that means is that a different, a larger, a more representative set of people can make a different set of choices, can establish and design a different set of systems that lead to a different set of outcomes and opportunities. As a collective group of people, we have the ability to challenge and change systems, to overcome and eliminate the struggles that too many people in our community space. And just like every other challenge that we’ve encountered throughout the years, we can force change when we come together to pursue solutions.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (20:34)
So when we look at what we need to do next, you must remember that our parents and grandparents set out a blueprint toward justice. And this critical moment, we must recognize our power. And this collective moment, we must organize our power. And in this consequential moment, we must use that power to pursue actions and reforms that will address the immediate pain, as well as the systemic injustice. If we are going to design a system that works for everyone, that this is the charge that I give to you. As we march, we need to think about what we need to do to become further engaged. As we get engaged, we need to think about what we need to do to make our voices heard. And as we make our voices heard, we must think of what we need to do to take this energy everywhere from our census forms to the ballot box.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (21:29)
This is why representation matters. We cannot do this alone. When you see who I am joining on the stage here, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, only the second woman to occupy the office of the Governor of the State of Michigan, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, an incredible black woman who is fighting the COVID-19 as our state’s top medical professional, and myself, the first black person that occupy the office of Lieutenant Governor. When we have complete and full representation, we then get the policies and programs that are able to address the complete list of concerns that people have.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (22:07)
The Michigan coronavirus task force on racial disparities, which I chair on the request of Governor Whitmer, has been the direct result of this diverse and representative leadership, the most diverse leadership team, responding to coronavirus and COVID-19 in the country. We’ve taken action along with Dr. Khaldun to significantly broaden the testing protocol. As our testing capacity increases, meaning more testing for more vulnerable people. We have scale models for flexible, accessible testing, including drive-thru pop-up testing and targeted, identified, vulnerable, impoverished communities like two that I visited just yesterday in Westland and in Albion, new brick and mortar test sites, at least 2014 of which are in the hardest hit zip codes in our state. And a coming expansion of mobile drive- to testing, which will literally take testing where it’s needed most. We have named and given guidance to how we can combat implicit bias when it comes to decisions related to testing and treatment, including issuing a policy of non-discrimination when it comes to how those choices are made. And we’re putting people on the path to longterm care, recognizing that they will be coming into contact with a doctor, perhaps for the first time or the first time in a long time during this pandemic. This will enable the management of the conditions that have proven dally when mixed with coronavirus, but are manageable when you have a relationship with the physician.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (23:38)
I guess in closing, I want to speak to all of the people who are screaming for justice and equity, particularly young people who are issuing this call. Like those I joined on the West side of Detroit yesterday afternoon. To everyone who feels unheard, I hear you. These have been my experiences too. To everyone who feels unseen, I see you. These have been my experiences too. To everyone who feels silenced. I will use this position to help uplift your voices. This will take time. But we can, and we will scale this mountain of suffering, with our paths lit with a light of compassion, with our feet driven by the grit that we will not accept failure, ultimately reaching the summit of equality that recognizes that we are all human beings, valuable and capable of pursuing our dreams right here in the State of Michigan, and everywhere where we can pursue our potential around the country, and around the world.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist: (24:50)
Thank you so much. And now it is my honor to bring forward Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (25:02)
Good afternoon. Thank you, Governor Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist. I want to also take a moment to recognize the protests across the country and here in Michigan, about the murder of George Floyd, police brutality, and racial injustice. My condolences go out to the family of George Floyd, and the families of all the other black and brown people, who have been unjustly targeted and killed because of their race. As a black mother with three children, I know the distress of not knowing if someone will see your child’s life as less valuable because of the color of their skin. I’ve seen the disproportionate impact that racism has had on health outcomes for people of color, not because of genetic differences, because of differences in unequal access to adequate housing, healthcare, education, and jobs. This directly contributes to health disparities, including what we are seeing with COVID-19 where African-Americans make up only 13% of
Dr. Joneigh: (26:03)
… Of COVID-19 where African Americans make up only 13% of Michigan’s population, but they are 40% of deaths. Racism is absolutely a matter of public health and as a society, we must do better. I stand with those who are peacefully striving to advance justice, not just for my children and family, but for black and brown people all across the country. So now let’s talk a little bit about where we are with Michigan’s response to COVID-19. Today we are announcing 57,532 cases and 5,516 total deaths. We’ve seen as the governor mentioned, encouraging trends with rates of cases declining across the entire state, while there is still variability across regions of the state, overall we are seeing about 12 new cases per million people per day. Across the state about 12% of people tested, have tested positive for the disease, but in the past two weeks that number has been much lower at about 5%.
Dr. Joneigh: (27:05)
And because of these trends, we’re able to move regions of the state forward with next steps in the MI Safe Start Plan. And if we all continue to do our part, we’ll be able to prevent people from getting sick and dying, and we we’ll be able to maintain the capacity that our healthcare systems have so that they have enough beds and PPE and equipment and medications to be able to care for patients. And we will be able to continue moving forward, not backward with re-engaging our economy. But let me be very clear the threat of the disease has not gone away. There is no vaccine, there’s no antiviral treatment and we do not expect to have one for several months and just one person can still infect many, many more people. So it’s incredibly important that as businesses open up, they do so in the safest way possible following the safety protocols and guidance put forth by public health officials. It’s incredibly important that people continue to socially distance, wear a mask, not gather in large crowds and wash hands appropriately.
Dr. Joneigh: (28:13)
And especially for those who are most vulnerable to severe disease from COVID-19 like the elderly and those with underlying chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease strongly consider still not going out unless you absolutely have to, to protect yourself. So one of the most important things we have to do, especially as more and more people are coming out to work is to make sure we are catching any new cases as quickly as possible. We need to get these people tested and we need to make sure they’re isolating and quarantining as quickly as possible. To help meet this goal last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the Labor and Economic Opportunity department and the University of Michigan School of Public Health and College of Engineering launched the MI Symptoms web portal. This portal will allow people to track their symptoms and quickly be connected to public health officials so they can get tested and get access to important resources.
Dr. Joneigh: (29:14)
It is also a very important tool for the state to monitor any uptick in symptoms. So the more people that are logging on and using this application, the more we’ll be able to understand where the disease and outbreaks may be so that we can stop the spread. So I encourage everyone to go to our website, it’s www.misymptomapp.state.mi.us and start using it to track your symptoms. You can also access this on our web portal. You can access this web portal and other important resources on COVID-19, including our new data dashboard and resources on how to get tested www.michigan.gov/coronavirus. So I’m glad that we’re moving forward with the next steps of the MI Safe Start Plan but I continue to ask everyone to please remain vigilant as we fight this disease together. And with that, I will turn it back over to governor Whitmer.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (30:10)
All right, Dr. Joneigh [Inaudible 00:0014], I know you are going to get some questions. All right, with that, I’m happy to open it up.
Speaker 3: (30:24)
Governor, what concrete measures does your administration plan to take or propose to stop police violence in Michigan? Do you support legislation from Senator Jeff Irwin that would require training on implicit bias and deescalation tactics for incoming law enforcement officers?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (30:42)
I think that there is a lot of merit and that could be one piece of what ultimately should be a multifaceted piece. I have had a lot of conversation with the Colonel of the state police about this with the tag about this with my administration has been talking with the ACLU and Black Lives Matter. I think that there is a lot of interest in making sure that we get this right and making sure that we’ve got a table that is a real representation around it because one of the things that I have been inspired by is the absolute embrace of solving this problem that I see by law enforcement, by many leaders in law enforcement.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (31:26)
We saw a really remarkable thing happened, sheriff Swanson, what he did in Genesee County I know it went viral and nationwide and Barack Obama even mentioned it in the piece that he wrote that I mentioned in my opening remarks. I think that there are a lot of people of goodwill who want to solve this problem and that it probably looks like a multifaceted agenda that I would anticipate that the Lieutenant governor will be on behalf of the administration taking the lead on, because I think it’s a natural extension of the work that he’s doing with the racial disparities taskforce.
Speaker 4: (32:07)
Governor, back to the phone call with the president, just what was going through your mind during this exchange, if in fact it wasn’t exchange? And also what concerns do you have about how this might affect requests for a disaster assistance vis-a-vis floods and also help with federal help with the budget deficit?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (32:30)
Okay, let me answer that on a couple of different fronts. First and foremost, we have found our federal partners to be very good to work with. By and large, they’re the same kind of dedicated public servants that state employees are. And working with our counterparts has been productive. Have we gotten everything that we need? No, no state has. The fact of the matter is there are a lot of miscalculations that happened early on and have precluded us from having the kind of supplies we have even to this day we do not have everything we need to ramp up to our full capability in testing. We’ve gotten some shipments of swaps. We’re grateful for them, but they don’t meet the needs that we have in Michigan so that we can fulfill the real promise of 25,000 a day tests. We’re capable of doing that today. We just don’t have the supplies and that the supply chain problems are an issue that they have ongoing.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (33:34)
Now, with regard to this phone call with the president, it was galling because we are at a point in time where people need hope and unity and a strategy to pull people together and to save lives. And I’m frustrated because what we see as rhetoric that feeds into that anxiety, that understandable exhaustion that my African American friends talk about every time they talk exhaustion is the overwhelming word that people use, because these are problems that we’ve been confronting and it’s exacerbated by what we’re seeing on COVID-19 and how it impacts communities of color. So I was very frustrated and I can tell you, I’ve had a lot of conversations with my colleagues who feel the same way.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (34:25)
To assert that we should be dominating and if we don’t, they’re going to come in and do what is … the antithesis of what we need right now as a country, which is a leader who can bring us together, can focus us and say, we’re going to get through this and give us the kind of pep talk the nation needs. It just sows more seeds of division and it’s makes it more dangerous. And that’s what we’re trying to … governors across this on both sides of the aisle are doing everything we can to save lives and keep our economies going and to do so safely and avoid a second wave. Every ounce of energy I have is going into that. Am I afraid by being critical of the white house, that will preclude us? Listen, I have worked incredibly hard. They have been helpful and I show my gratitude, but when they’re wrong, I have a duty to say we deserve better.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (35:18)
And what was on that call had already leaked out to the press. I was just wanting to put my thoughts on it. I believe that they will help us. They have to help the States. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our state budgets. And if the U.S. Senate and the white house don’t act to help us, the people that have stayed on the front lines throughout this crisis are the ones that may be hurt by it. Because when you look at trying to make this budget balance, we know the biggest expenditures are healthcare, public health and safety and the education of our kids. We can’t afford to make those cuts and that’s why the federal government is going to step up. I believe that they will. I do not believe this will change that Michigan is counting on the feds to deliver as, as every other state in the nation.
Speaker 5: (36:08)
Good afternoon, governor, one of the things that we’re starting to see particularly on the border area of Michigan is many people are going to Ohio and Indiana to get haircuts nail appointments and the like. Sending Michigan dollars to other States. And in as much as we are now moving to stage four hair salons still are not part of that. And so it begs the question, what do you tell those people who are going to Ohio and bringing their money, they’re going to Indiana bringing their money there, what they should do here? And more than that, how do we jumpstart this economy knowing that the difficulty we have with our budget?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (36:42)
Yeah. So, I mean, we’re taking a big step forward today it’s undeniable. The fact that we’ve gone from a moment where we’ve said everyone needs to stay home, except for these essential things to know, it’s okay to reengage except for a few of these things that still are too risky. That’s our judgment, my hope is that we turn that dial in two weeks and take that next step, two to three weeks is what we think we need to see in terms of data. And I’m concerned, people who are going to Ohio might be bringing COVID-19 back I’m worried about that. We know that their numbers have been increasing while ours has been decreasing. What we’ve done in Michigan has worked and it has set us apart from other states. That’s precisely why we’ve got to do this right. And so I tell people, if you’re like me, you need a haircut desperately, couple more weeks of this and we may be back in a place where we’re able to do that safely.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (37:37)
It’s still going to require strict protocols. It’s still going to require every one of us keeping our guard up and doing the right thing. But we may be taking that step. And I’d like to do it before independence day weekend, but we got to follow the data. And so if you’re one of those people that’s going to Ohio, I hope I pray that you are doing your part not to bring COVID-19 home. And that if you haven’t resorted that Google how to do a haircut or throw your hair in a ponytail or curl it and get through the next couple of weeks and we can resume some of these things.
Speaker 3: (38:11)
Governor you’ve mentioned the importance of public officials turning down the heat when these protests are happening. And I wanted to see if there’s anything that your administration is doing to help turn down the heat in these areas where some of the protests that started out peacefully devolved into violent demonstrations. And also just ask if you approved of how mayors in Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids handled the situation.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (38:41)
So I’ve been talking regularly with the mayors of those three cities in particular, I’ve talked with mayor Duggan, I have talked with mayor Bliss and mayor Schor, I walked around downtown Lansing this morning at the early hours to take in. I actually met with mayor Schor when I did this morning. I think that it’s really important that-
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (39:03)
I think that it’s really important that everyone with a platform try to bring the heat down. And that’s why I was so disappointed in the call with the White House earlier today. We are in the midst of a global pandemic and we’re confronting decades anxiety and anger about police brutality in the same moment, not to mention a 500 year flooding event. And yet, every one of us with a platform, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, whether you’re on the federal level or the state level or the local level, should be doing everything we can to bring down the heat. I have engaged with ecumenical leaders and legislative leaders. I think that every local leader should be having conversations with their networks and with their members and with their constituents. We need to seek to understand one another. We need to give people hope and listen and be true allies.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (40:07)
When I see some of the things play out across the state, as soon as it gets dark, I’m very troubled by it because by and large, not the peaceful demonstrators who are upset about George Floyd and all of our nation’s history around police brutality. There’s people with different agendas who are abusing someone else’s pain in order to inflict damage on a community. And I don’t think that’s acceptable. And I think that it’s on every single one of us to do our part, to keep that from happening. And so we’re working very closely with these local leaders. We are lifting up those who are really making a difference and I think, like the sheriff that I mentioned from Genesee County, is there are a lot of wonderful stories that are playing out in the midst of all of this pain. And we need to lift those up.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (41:05)
Videos on Twitter of a man giving a pep talk to … Let’s say middle-age African American man giving a pep talk to a younger, a 16 year old African American young man. We need to seek these out. We need to lift these up and we need to stay focused on what really is the issue that we’re combating and recognize the enemy is a virus. The enemy is the virus of social injustice. We are not one another’s enemy. We have to get through this and we will get through this together.
Speaker 6: (41:43)
Governor, what discussions, if any, have you had with the legislature’s Republican majority leadership regarding some commonly agreed upon actions to address frustration and police brutality?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (41:58)
We actually have a call scheduled for the morning, tomorrow morning.
Speaker 7: (42:02)
Governor, can you talk a little bit more about your nursing home policy? Where that stands and do you have any regrets for making these nursing homes with COVID positive and COVID negative patients? Fire marshals coming in and asking them to take down walls that were part of the separation? Where are we headed with this policy?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (42:20)
So I’m going to ask Dr. Khaldun to weigh in here. I’ll just start with this. This is a novel virus and novel simply means it’s new. It means we’ve never seen anything like this before, and we’re learning a tremendous amount in a short period of time. In the early days, I often would observe because some of the best science was saying COVID-19 can stay active and can be picked up from a stainless steel surface for days. That was the original science. That’s what they were saying. Now that seems less certain. The fact of the matter is we’re learning an incredible amount and we are trying to be nimble and move swiftly with the best science and best information that we have so that we can save lives.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (43:09)
With regard to our nursing home policies, we, I think have learned a great deal in the last 10 weeks. I think that if we could go back in a time machine and do some things differently, sure. There are things that we would improve upon. But every action we took was based on the best science and the best information available to protect people and to save lives. We have adjusted and made some changes and for that part of the conversation, I’m going to hand it over to Dr. J.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (43:41)
Thank you. And I’ll just reiterate what we said last week. It’s disheartening to see the deaths in our nursing facilities. It’s not just Michigan, but across the country where people are just grappling with this. We have, in the state, followed CMS guidance when it comes to nursing facilities the entire time. But clearly, there’s no question we need to do more, not just with our nursing facilities, but also with our data and reporting, which we’ve been very open and honest about. Right now, we need to make sure that our nursing facilities have appropriate staffing so they can take care of people. We’ve never forced any nursing facility to take patients that they did not feel like they could take good care of with the appropriate distancing and PPE. Right now we’re working on making sure there’s appropriate staffing, making sure there’s appropriate beds. Those regional hubs, we’re working with our healthcare systems to see if they can develop what we call swing beds, so the availability of beds in the hospital for people to be in, but we’ve got a lot more work to do, but we’re definitely working hard on it.
Speaker 8: (44:45)
A couple of questions about allowing more businesses to reopen. I wanted to see if you or the doctor could go into more detail on the criteria you’re using to one, get into the reopening process for phase four. What criteria would be necessary for phase five? And also what businesses would be potentially be reopened once we hit phase five, potentially by a 4th of July?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (45:13)
All right. So I know Dr. J can do a lot of this off the top of her head in terms of what businesses we can look at for will be opening in phase five. It would include theaters, indoor gyms, personal services, overnight camps. Those are some examples. When you have an opportunity to look at the order, you’ll see that they’re articulated because the general rule is now we can safely re-engage except for these particular things that are deemed a little higher risk. It’s really important that people continue to learn the protocols.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (45:47)
As restaurants are looking to reengage, I think a week from today, let me make sure I get it right. Yep. Right now is the time to make sure that they are learning the protocols, that they are studying them, that they’ve got everything they need to keep their workforce and their customers safe. This has been in practice in regions six and eight for a little while. Perhaps they can be talking with their counterparts in those parts of the States, so that if there are lessons to be learned, they can deploy them. None of us wants to be the ground zero where COVID-19 makes a big increase again and so I know that every business owner wants to make sure they get it right. The protocols are easy to access, and I hope that people will avail themselves of that. For small businesses that are seeking to get the PPE that they need, they can do it through the Pure Michigan Business Connect where we are connecting small businesses in Michigan who are making PPE with those that need to buy it.
Speaker 9: (46:50)
Governor, on the response to the flooding in mid-Michigan, what’s your current thinking about using an internal agency investigation into what happened and what went wrong with the Edenville Dam versus an independent outside inquiry into what went wrong?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (47:10)
We think that it’s important that we have the expertise in this area to do the initial investigation. I have confidence that we will get precisely that, and it will be above reproach. The fact of the matter is there’s a long history with these four dams owned by this particular owner. There are a long history with FERC. We are working in conjunction with our federal partners to make sure that we get this right. And I think that we’ve got to let the initial investigation get done by the expertise on the ground.
Speaker 9: (47:54)
Yes, Governor. One last question, as it pertains to the protests, many, many people, yeah, some had masks, but many did not. Massive crowds, lots of people together. What is your level of concern about what that means in terms of social distancing and what impact that might have on the state?
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (48:11)
High. I’ve got a high level of concern about it when people congregate without masks and they are projecting their voices. They’re expectorating, the aerosol from their speech is precisely how COVID-19 spreads. Study after study has shown that one choir practice got a whole choir sick with COVID-19. I mean, these are the actions that we have learned contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Not wearing masks and projecting, which is what was happening at the demonstrations is precisely how this passes. Now, I’ll say this, a lot of the early in the day events where it really was a peaceful protest, people were wearing masks. They appeared to really be taking the practices seriously to keep themselves safe. And I think that that was important.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer: (49:12)
But as nighttime came, as more people packed into smaller areas, as we saw the fewer masks being worn, I do think it’s concerning. And so, I say, my hope is that we are fully re-engaged by the middle of the month to the end of the month. We’re going to follow the numbers and if we see things start to spike, we’re going to slow down. We may even have to take a step backward. And I know none of us wants that so that’s why everyone’s got to keep doing their part. All right, thanks everybody.