May 1, 2020
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Press Conference Transcript May 1
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer held a May 1 press briefing on COVID-19. She extended Michigan’s state of emergency through May 28.
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Gretchen Whitmer: (00:09)
Good afternoon. It is Friday, May 1st. I am here today joined by of course Dr. Joneigh Khaldun our Chief Medical Executive, Ryan Maibach, the President and CEO of Barton Malow and member of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council and Pat Devlin, the Secretary Treasurer of the Michigan Building Trades. I want to start by thanking my new friend, ten-year-old Lauren from Washington Township for the mask that I’ve been wearing today. Lauren turned her scrunchie business in the basement of their home into a mask factory. She started it last year to raise money for the homeless community. She is a leader and an activist and when we started to see the spread of COVID-19 here in Michigan, Lauren and her mom, Amy, donated all their scrunchie supplies and turned it into masks for local nurses. They’ve donated over 150 masks and then started selling them to the community to raise money for their charities.
Gretchen Whitmer: (01:10)
They have made over 450 in a month. Lauren and Amy are a great example of the innovation and the hard work that Michiganders of all ages have. And I hope that one day we’ll see Lauren and Amy in Shark Tank maybe or perhaps standing at this podium one day. So I want to thank all of our dedicated Michigan state police officers and the House and Senate sergeants who kept people safe yesterday. I also want to make sure to thank the Peckham workers and staff who are cleaning and disinfecting the Capitol today. And as always, I want to thank the millions of Michiganders who did their part by staying home. Yesterday’s seen at the Capitol was disturbing to be quite honest, swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders. This state has a rich history of people coming together in times of crisis.
Gretchen Whitmer: (02:09)
Our brave soldiers fought to keep the union intact during the civil war. We came together as the arsenal of democracy to defeat the Nazis because we were united against a common enemy. Now we must channel that same energy against our common enemy, which is COVID-19. I know that some people are angry and I know many are feeling restless. I know that people are itching to get back to work and I get it and I respect it and it’s okay to feel that way. There’s nothing that I want more than to just flip a switch and return to normal, but that’s not how it’s going to work. Unfortunately, the only way we can get through this and take the next steps forward is if we all continue to do our part. I want to, again, thank all of the people who have turned into these press conferences three days a week.
Gretchen Whitmer: (03:04)
Those of you who are staying safe and staying informed are helping us get through this crisis and to protect one another. That said, I know that’s an incredible amount of information to digest and I know that staying informed can be heavy and can take a toll on your mental health. So if you need some help, the Department of Health and Human Services has launched the Stay Home, Stay Well website at michigan.gov/staywell or you can text the word restore to 741741. So I always want to make sure that as we do these updates, I acknowledge some great Michigan businesses that are stepping up and helping. And I had a call with Southwest Michigan business leaders yesterday and I want to highlight some of the work that businesses in that region are doing. Companies throughout Southwest Michigan, including Fabri-Kal, Schupan and Sons, Tekna and others have banded together to produce medical face shields for local healthcare workers.
Gretchen Whitmer: (04:13)
Stryker has developed an emergency relief bed to support bed patients, I’m sorry, both patients and healthcare workers during the unprecedented high demand for patient platforms in the midst of COVID-19 Schupan Aluminum and Plastic Sales in Kalamazoo is developing an acrylic box called the AeroGuard that gives doctors and nurses an extra layer of protection against COVID-19. And three Southwest Michigan companies received $235,000 in Pure Michigan Business Connect, COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants. Outerwears in Schoolcraft is sewing gowns and masks. Genemarkers in Kalamazoo is developing COVID testing products and Freeman Manufacturing in Sturgis, Michigan is making isolation gowns.
Gretchen Whitmer: (05:11)
I also want to thank Wacker Chemical Corporation for their donation of 5,900 KN95 masks and 170 pails of sanitizer to senior living centers, emergency service teams in Adrian, Scio Township and Pittsfield Township and other organizations. I also want to thank the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights and their hardworking members who have been proactive in identifying contractors certified to do the work safely, including at the TCF Alternate Care Facility in Detroit and their international organization that has put together online trainings for COVID-19 preparedness and infection control that are being utilized by labor unions across the country.
Gretchen Whitmer: (06:02)
Today I took action to lift some of the restrictions on the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. I signed an executive order to allow some previously suspended forms of work that are lower risk for COVID-19 exposure so that they can resume on May 7th that includes construction work, real estate activities and work that is primarily and traditionally performed outdoors. My public health team will be monitoring very closely to evaluate the effects of allowing these activities have on our public health. And I want to be clear, the Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect until May 15th. It will not be business as usual in Michigan for some time, but we are starting to turn that dial. I want to make sure that Michiganders know you still shouldn’t leave your home unless it’s critical to run errands, to get to the grocery store or to the pharmacy to engage in safe outdoor activities or if you’re going to work in one of these lower risk fields and when you do leave your home, please make sure to wear a mask, keep six feet apart from others.
Gretchen Whitmer: (07:14)
I want to also acknowledge that today’s order includes the restart of manufacturing for the express purpose of producing items that help businesses that are modifying their workplaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19 businesses such as examples like new partitions and cubicles, that type of thing. Furniture that will help keep people distant when they returned to the workplaces. If we all do our part to stay safe, we can lower the chance of a second wave of this virus and continue turning that dial and start to reengage other sectors of our economy. It’s going to be one step at a time in increments so we can stay safe and start to reengage. The executive order I signed today also sets forth protocols for businesses to take so that their workers are safe. Like I’ve said before, my number one priority is re-engaging sectors of our economy as we are looking at the number one thing is the health and safety of workers and their families.
Gretchen Whitmer: (08:17)
I’m using every tool in my toolbox to protect Michiganders from the spread of this disease and now as we phase in the re-engagement, our businesses will also need to use every tool at their disposal to protect their employees. The construction industry, for example, we’ll be adapting a set of best practices to protect their workers from infection practices that include things like designating a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies, conducting daily health screenings of their employees, creating dedicated entry points and if possible, or issuing stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers have been screened on a given day, identifying choke points and high risk areas and controlling them to enable social distancing and ensuring that sufficient hand washing or hand sanitizing stations around the work site. In addition, I’ve already also signed an executive order that prohibits businesses from retaliating against workers who are afraid to go to work or who want to stay home to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19 if they feel that they have been exposed.
Gretchen Whitmer: (09:29)
Work is going to look and feel a little bit different than it has in the past, but these necessary steps will keep us safe as we re-engage our economy. Like individuals across the state, the vast majority of businesses have done the right thing by protecting their workers and I’m grateful for their partnership. The action I’m taking today will ensure that the construction industry does move forward in a safe manner as well.
Gretchen Whitmer: (09:56)
This week I’ve stood with leaders in business, in labor and healthcare to talk about plans of how we reengage the Michigan economy and protect our people in the process. This is an ongoing all hands on deck effort that begins with experts from all backgrounds. As we navigate this crisis, we are united in a common goal, re-engaging Michigan’s economy safely in a way that protects our people. We’re all on the same team fighting against one common enemy, COVID-19. Today, you’ll hear from two leaders that my team and I have been working with to discuss these plans to reengage. Ryan Maibach is the President and CEO of Barton Malow. Pat Delvin is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Building Trades. These leaders will help to ensure that Michiganders who go back to work on construction sites do so safely without fear of catching the virus or spreading it to their loved ones at home. Today’s action marks another step forward in the reengagement process.
Gretchen Whitmer: (11:03)
These actions will continue to come in waves as we assess the data and consult with experts. I’ll not be making decisions based on an arbitrary timeline, or political or legal pressure. I’m not here to play games. My number one priority, as we work to reengage sectors of our economy, is Michigan’s health and safety. I’m working to protect both people’s lives and livelihoods. I’ll continue to work around the clock to keep you informed. And to be honest with you about what the data shows and what it means for the future of our state. To those of you who are gearing up to go back to work on May 7th please, do your part and remember to be safe. Stay home, if you test positive or experiencing symptoms. To those of you who are doing your part by staying home, keep staying home. And thank you. And of course those of you on the front lines every single day, thank you. You are the reason that we’re going to get through this. And with that, I would like to invite Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, to take the podium.
Gretchen Whitmer: (12:10)
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (12:19)
Thank you, Governor. So we continue to see a flattening in cases overall, and I attribute this mainly to, the efforts of Michigan residents, to stay home, to stay safe, and to limit their activities as much as possible. This includes, as the governor mentioned, wearing a face mask in public, staying a six foot distance away from others, and not going out unless you absolutely have to for things like food, medicine, or to do these low public health risk jobs. That’s why we are cautiously optimistic and able to take these incremental steps forward with reopening the economy and allowing some activities that are lower risk to public health.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (12:59)
Today, we announce 42,356 cases. An increase of 977 over yesterday, and 3,866 deaths, which is an increase of 77. We are still seeing many cases and deaths in our state every single day. And to be clear, we’re still in the early months of battling this outbreak. The threat of having an additional surge if we do not move forward carefully, is still a concern. We’re closely monitoring all regions of our state to make sure we have the capacity and resources to be able to handle any uptick in cases. To date, the vast majority of cases have still been in Southeast Michigan. However, while the rate of rise is slower in Southeast Michigan, we are seeing an increase in the rate of rise in other parts of the state, particularly in the Western part.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (13:54)
So let me talk a little bit more about that. Compared to last week, we had a 48% rise in cases in Kent County, 41% in Muskegon County, and 23% in Ottawa County. Testing has also increased in these areas, which is very good. We also know, that if we test more people, we’re going to find more disease and that is definitely what we want. Knowing where the disease is, is how we will help to stop the spread. We also know that in this area of the state, 10 to 20% of the tests done are coming back positive. And ICU bed utilization is about 70%. we are going to continue to watch this region of the state and we’ll be working closely with our local health departments to identify any pockets of outbreaks. So, what I just described is how we are going to be looking at the entire state, region by region and informing decisions regarding how we move forward in the safest way possible.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (14:53)
Nursing homes also remain a concern for us. Michigan last week, began requiring nursing homes to report their numbers of cases of COVID-19 to us. So far, 450 nursing homes have reported data, which is about 91% of the total number of nursing homes. Among those reporting, we have 3,047 cases of COVID-19, with roughly three quarters of those being in the Southeast part of the state. We must closely monitor these facilities because these residents are at higher risk for severe and possibly fatal complications from this virus. We have a proactive strategy to monitor and deal with COVID-19 in these places. We’re working closely with our local health departments and have committed $5.4 million, to expand testing and to fund teams of public health experts, and clinicians who will provide assistance to these nursing homes.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (15:48)
We’ve also identified regional hubs. These hubs, have the protocols, the staffing, and the personal protective equipment, to be able to take care of these nursing home residents safely. Focusing on our most vulnerable populations, will be a key strategy for our public health response as we move forward.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (16:07)
I also want to talk about our hospitals. We are pleased that our hospital capacity is improving over the past several weeks and particularly, in Southeastern Michigan. I’ve spoken to many physicians over the past several days, including healthcare system chief medical officers, and representatives from physician leadership groups in the state. I really appreciate all of the work they’re doing to keep their patients safe and to be able to respond to any potential surge in cases. The governor’s executive order on elective procedures was meant to protect hospital capacity, making sure that our hospitals have sufficient staff, beds, and personal protective equipment available to take care of patients.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (16:48)
I’m also a practicing emergency medicine physician and I know that decisions about patient care are best made between a physician and the patient. The executive order actually allowed for this flexibility. Allowing diagnosis and treatment for cancer, advanced heart disease, and other things that a physician determines is time-sensitive for their patients. And things that may have been time-sensitive six weeks ago, may not have been time-sensitive six weeks ago, may now be. And I encourage hospitals and doctors to think about how they can take the best care of their patients, working closely, with their specialists and hospital leaders.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (17:29)
In the upcoming days, I’ll be issuing more guidance on this, based on the input of these healthcare system and physician leaders. Regardless, I encourage anyone who believes they need to be seen for important and time-sensitive medical care, to reach out to their doctor to talk about getting that done. And certainly, if you think you are having an emergency, chest pain, difficulty breathing, worsening stomach pain, do not delay seeking medical care. Our hospitals are open, and they are available to take care of patients.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (18:01)
I remain encouraged, about our state’s prospects to fight COVID-19. But make no mistake, this will be a long term effort. COVID-19 will likely change the way we think about our lives, for the next year or so. And as we move forward with slowly we opening our economy and the days start getting warmer, please continue to have patience, and diligently, continue to practice social distancing to protect yourselves and your community. You can go outside, and please enjoy the beautiful weather. But wear a mask, if you are going to the grocery store. Maintain at least six feet of distance between you and others. And remember to always practice good public health hygiene like washing your hands frequently. We will get through this, but it will take everyone’s continued efforts for us to keep this virus from surging again in our state. Thank you.
Ryan Maibach: (19:01)
Good afternoon and thank you Governor. Thank you Dr. Khaldun. As was mentioned, my name is Ryan Maibach. I’m the President and CEO of Barton Malow, a Southfield, Michigan based contractor, doing work throughout North America on large scale projects.
Ryan Maibach: (19:15)
Gerry Anderson, Executive Chairman of DTE, and Wright Lassiter, the CEO of Henry Ford Health System, shared earlier this weekend on a news conference on Monday, the background on the Michigan Economic Recovery Council. Special thanks to Gerry for his exceptional leadership since this council was formed several weeks ago. [inaudible 00:19:35] noted on Monday, the council has two primary goals. The first is to put Michigan on a path, to full economic recovery as safely and quickly as feasible. The second goal is to ensure the recovery is staged carefully, in a way that safeguards both the health of the state’s residents as well as its workforce. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the council’s business advisory group, and was tasked with leading the council’s work and developing best practices for the construction industry.
Ryan Maibach: (20:04)
The construction industry in Michigan is diverse, with work ranging from residential, to commercial, to infrastructure, including work on roads and bridges. It includes several tiers of contractors, and suppliers, that tie together in an ecosystem, creating the built environment. It is also an industry with a strong safety culture. And we are accustomed to the various forms of PPE, as well as the adaptation of new safety protocol as needed. I’d like to thank Mike Haller, of Detroit-based Walbridge, who partnered with me in canvassing the industry over the past few weeks, as we work to develop practices that could apply across the entire spectrum of our industry. We communicated with several dozen industry groups representing about 20,000 different construction entities, employing most of the 225,000 Michigan citizens who work in construction. We also collaborated with a team of experts from the University of Michigan, who provided valuable input based on their data and experience. As well receiving input from the MCAC Healthcare advisory group.
Ryan Maibach: (21:09)
There are projects that were essential and remained open during this health crisis. And the practices successfully used on those projects, were very helpful to our work as well. I’d like to take a moment to thank those men and women who continued working on those essential projects, for keeping our infrastructure operating, safely and efficiently. As we resume our work in construction, we all need to embrace the responsibility that we have, to adopt these best practices, ensuring the safety of ourselves and those around us. Every one of us needs to understand, just how important it is to do that every day, with discipline, and with focus. With these measures in place on our projects, we are prepared to get Michigan’s construction industry safely back to work. And I’m looking forward to getting back to positively impacting people, and communities, through the projects we build. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (22:00)
Thank you, Ryan. Good afternoon. I want to first start off by beginning to thank the governor for her support for reopening the construction industry. The hard working men and women of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, through the Michigan, appreciate you and thank you very much. They want to get back to work. I’d also like to thank the members of the [Merch Construction Taskforce 00:00:42], including of course, Ryan Maibach with Barton Malow, who you just heard from. He mentioned Mike Heller and [Andy Wozniak 00:00:52] of Walbridge, [The Chrisman Brinker Group 00:00:54], I’ve been working diligently with them. And I definitely wanted to point out that Jerry Anderson has done a yeoman’s job chairing this committee. I want to also thank, President Steve Claywell with the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, and the construction trade labor unions and contractor associations who have added valuable input to the reopening plan announced today.
Speaker 3: (23:22)
As construction professionals, we work with the various levels of PPE and job site safety in our everyday construction work. COVID-19, brings another layer of workplace safety and PPE, safety glasses, masks, gloves, temperature testing and of course, social distancing, are all important and will be in place as we move forward. We can and we’ll do this, safely in a partnership with our contractors, our construction managers, our owners. We will rise to meet the challenge that COVID-19 brings to the job sites. Make no mistake, we will protect the hardworking men and women of the construction trades and return to work safely, so they can return home safely each night. Michigan construction companies unionized or not, throughout the state, will be committed to meeting the new PPE standards and CDC guidelines. This is an important element to keeping the curve flat and getting safely back to work.
Speaker 3: (24:38)
In closing, I’d like to thank the frontline workers for their service, thank you for all that you are doing. I’d also like to take a moment to thank the thousands of union construction, skilled trades men and women, who have protected and provided critical infrastructure during the COVID crisis. We honor the work you’ve been doing at locations like power plants, building field hospitals, at the water authority, airport, at the hospitals all over this state, this could be no longer… Our skilled trades at jails and courthouses, we appreciate your dedication and recognize the sacrifice this has been to you and to your families during unprecedented times. Your fellow brothers and sisters are proud of you, and thank you. And at this time, I’ll turn it over to the governor. Thank you, governor.
Gretchen Whitmer: (25:38)
Thanks so much. With that, I think that we will happily open it up for some questions.
Speaker 4: (25:58)
So, other than residential and commercial construction, do you anticipate any other sectors of the economy will open up by May 15th, including for example, medical procedures that your executive order currently proclaims non-essential?
Gretchen Whitmer: (26:13)
So, what Dr. J was just describing are, precisely, what those medical procedures are. So, our hospital systems have been able to start to safely re-engage on that front. We are encouraging anyone who has been holding off on surgery that really needs to be done, to get that scheduled and to proceed. Early on, it was really necessary because we had so few N95 masks, and gloves, and all of the important things that we needed to keep people safe as we were dealing with this influx of COVID-19 patients, so that we could use all of that PPE. Now, we’ve been able to build up enough that we can proceed with these other procedures, and we are encouraging hospital systems to move forward with that.
Speaker 4: (26:59)
And will that include elective medical and dental procedures as well?
Gretchen Whitmer: (27:03)
So, elective dental procedures, I think is a good question that hits home. I’m married to a dentist, and my husband has been scouring the ADA website to understand how to keep himself and his patients and his staff protected. And at this point, we know that the COVID-19 is spread through the mouth, and that’s what dentistry is all about. And so, we’re not releasing that at this juncture. We’re working really hard to ensure that we’ve got protocols to keep people safe. And if we continue to see our numbers drop, that will be in a future wave. But as for oncology surgeries, as for knee surgeries, those are things that should be scheduled and we’re encouraging people to get that done.
Gretchen Whitmer: (27:48)
Other parts of this order that are releasing sectors of our economy, realty, and the manufacturer of workplace retrofitting that needs to be done. So for instance, in work places where we need to build out for social distancing, we do have some furniture manufacturers in Grand Rapids, that can do some of that work. It doesn’t mean that their whole system is up and operating, but for the purposes of that, they can start to engage May 7th, as well.
Speaker 4: (28:20)
Gretchen Whitmer: (28:21)
Speaker 6: (28:24)
Governor Whitmer, can you talk about what kind of conversations you’ve been having with the auto industry and what you expect from them when they decide to reopen?
Gretchen Whitmer: (28:34)
With the oil industry?
Speaker 6: (28:35)
Auto industry, the Big Three?
Gretchen Whitmer: (28:36)
Auto industry. Sorry, I didn’t hear you correctly. So, I’ve had a lot of intensive conversations with the leadership of the Big Three, as well as the President of the UAW. I know that there are protocols that are coming together that they are deploying in other parts of the world, that have started to reengage post the COVID-19 crisis, that we are learning from and that I would imagine that they will emulate here in their plans, they’ve got a lot of these things built in. Working with the UAW, they’ve got to make sure that the employees feel like it’s safe to go to work. And I think that’s what we’ve demonstrated here in the construction industry, when you’ve got the building trades and some of the builders across our state working together to make sure that workers can have the confidence that they’re safe. So, we are… I’m staying close in those conversations and we are continually assessing risk and as our numbers continue to decline, that will be an upcoming turn of the dial, assuming everyone continues to do the right thing and we see our numbers keep going down.
Speaker 6: (29:40)
And then, can I ask you about schools? Do you have a plan, so far as when you will reopen schools?
Gretchen Whitmer: (29:47)
We have not announced anything with regard to when schools will resume in person instruction. The ongoing education of our kids, is something that we are well into, ISDs are leading that effort at the local level. We are working incredibly hard to supplement what they are able to do, so that every child is getting the education that they need. We also recognize that when our kids hopefully resume in person instruction in the fall and maybe some schools will choose to go back earlier than that, that we’ve given them that authority, assuming it’s safe to do so, that we will have those additional supports that they’re going to need to wrap kids around with additional educational support. We know that learning loss is a reality in any summer, but when you have kids out of the classroom, as long as as it appears that they might have to be, we’re going to have to have additional supports for our kids and our educators in our schools.
Speaker 5: (30:48)
Governor, the president tweeted today that the people that protested yesterday were good people and he urged you to make a deal with them. Can you respond to his tweet? And secondly, are you concerned that these protests are becoming more and more of an avenue for fringe extremist groups?
Gretchen Whitmer: (31:06)
I’ll just say this, the spirit of make-a-deal, and the spirit of the outreach that’s happened from the legislature about trying to negotiate sectors opening up, we’re not in a political crisis where we should just negotiate and find some common ground here, we’re in a public health crisis. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic that has already killed almost 4,000 people in our state. More people have died in Michigan from COVID-19 than died during the whole Vietnam conflict. The fact of the matter is, we have to listen not to pollsters and not to people with political agendas, but listen to epidemiologists and public healthcare experts, listen to our business leaders who are worried about making sure that they’ve got all the PPE and protocols to keep their employees safe. We will work together to determine when it is safe to start to reengage.
Gretchen Whitmer: (31:59)
This is not a switch that we flip, this is a dial that we turn. And we are driven by the data, we are driven by the outcomes for our people, we’re driven by the hospitalization rate. And as of right now, we’ve lost almost 300 people in the last 72 hours. We are not out of this crisis, and it is important that we do… We take the… We do the next right thing, and it’s going to be driven by the data, and it’s going to be driven by medical experts, not political polls, and not political pasturing, and not political maneuvers like you saw yesterday at the Capitol.
Speaker 7: (32:37)
Given the stay at home order, this may be a question for you and also Dr. Jay, why are some counties still seeing a rapid rise in cases? Is that because of facilities that have hotspots in those areas or is there any concern that people are not following the stay at home order?
Gretchen Whitmer: (32:52)
I’m going to let, Dr. J, come up.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (32:56)
All right. So, that’s a great question. So what we know is going on, particularly in our healthcare preparedness Region 6, this is the mid…
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun: (33:03)
Particularly in our healthcare preparedness region six, this is like the mid-Western side of the state. So there are a couple of work places, so food processing facilities that have some outbreaks there. And if we think that in some places it’s actually spread into the community as well, our local health departments are really on top of this. We’ve been communicating with them daily as far as expanded testing and making sure the appropriate protocols are in place. But some of it is really related to particular outbreaks and facilities.
Speaker 8: (33:32)
Governor Whitmer, are you worried at all about potential lawsuits over your emergency powers? And then what do you have to say to some businesses who are going with what the legislature is saying that this is not valid in starting to open up?
Gretchen Whitmer: (33:49)
So let me be very clear about one thing. The stay home stay safe order rests on my authority in the 1945 statute. Nothing’s changed on that regard. The fact that they chose not to extend the state of emergency is something altogether different. So no one should be rushing the gun and playing fast and loose when starting to restart sectors of the economy that haven’t been deemed low enough risk to do that yet. We’ll get there. And I just ask that people be patient.
Gretchen Whitmer: (34:16)
Now I want to acknowledge some of the maneuverings that happened yesterday. I mentioned earlier that what we saw yesterday was not what you see in the general public in Michigan doing. The vast majority of people are staying home and doing the right thing and that’s how we flatten the curve. What we saw yesterday was political gamesmanship without substance. And I want to walk you through why that is.
Gretchen Whitmer: (34:39)
It was first and foremost, contrary to the public health, did not extend a state of emergency. Even the Senate majority leader this morning on the radio said, “Yes, of course we’re still in a state of emergency.” But they chose not to extend it. Number two, the action that they did take is statutorily flawed. It is inconsistent with the Emergency Management Act in the bill that they did pass and so it would have to be vetoed for that reason alone. But that’s not the only problem with it.
Gretchen Whitmer: (35:12)
Third, it is constitutionally fatal. What they did violated the title object clause of the state constitution by jamming a number of subjects into a bill that was not legally viable. That is constitutionally flawed. It would have to be vetoed for that reason.
Gretchen Whitmer: (35:29)
If you don’t veto it for those first three reasons, it still would have to be vetoed because it was procedurally flawed. They didn’t even have their act together enough to ensure that they gave it immediate effect,.and so the bills that they talked about passing that they lured all these people to Lansing and got people riled up about wouldn’t even go into effect until April of 2021.
Gretchen Whitmer: (35:52)
I think that it was incredibly reckless and I think that there are a lot of people who should understand all of these pieces, but maybe don’t, including some editorial boards in our state. I walked you through that because I want people to understand that was political theater. People are weighing in and putting pressure. And you know what? I am going to listen to our epidemiologists and our public health experts. I’m going to work with our leaders in business and labor to make sure we get this right. Because even though we might disagree on some things, I think we’re unanimous in that we all want to reengage this economy safely so we never ever have to be in a stay home, stay safe order again. I am not pleased that we have to be in this moment, but we have to be to save lives. People are counting on us to get this right. Our economy is counting on us to get this right. So I’m going to stay focused on the facts and the data and doing the next right thing.
Speaker 9: (36:54)
Governor, you mentioned the 1945 law. Why does the 1976 law, it does have a time limit for the legislator to reextend your emergency, why would the 1945 law give you sort of more unfettered discretion and powers? And how do you explain that if Republicans go to court?
Gretchen Whitmer: (37:18)
We’ve cited two sources of authority. If the 1976 law supersedes the 45 law, they would have repealed it. It was an intentional decision to keep both of these sources of authority for the chief executive of the state of Michigan. It is for times like these that that authority is really important when lives are on the line. The fact of the matter is right now we have to make decisions that are well-informed, that are nimble. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do. All of these political threats, all of this conversation about polling that every time I talked to the leadership over there, they want to talk about polling. I’m not making decisions based on polling. I’m making decisions based on what we know to be the right thing to do and what Dr. Joneigh Khaldun advises and epidemiologists and public health officials across the country and within our state. We’re making decisions based on the best medical science, not a political poll, not a tweet, and not a threat of litigation. We’re going to continue to do the right thing.
Speaker 8: (38:28)
Would you support additional financial assistance for hospitals who have been damaged by the number of procedures that they’re able to do during this pandemic or who have incurred financial losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Gretchen Whitmer: (38:42)
So I’m working very closely with the leadership of our hospital systems across the state. I can tell you that they have really stepped up. And in this crisis, especially at the front of the crisis where we saw what the projected numbers of COVID-19 were going to be, we worked together in a way that hospital systems hadn’t worked together before in setting up alternate care sites and really joining forces. And it’s been really incredible. And they’ve saved lives, so many lives in the process. I do hope that Congress continues to look to shore up the financial health of these hospitals on the front line. They’ve done incredible work and I would absolutely support that and we’re trying to encourage Congress to make sure that they give the kind of flexibility to states and to local governments as well as support to our hospitals.
Speaker 8: (39:37)
Governor, who is going to qualify for the tuition free education program for essential workers and how will it be funded?
Gretchen Whitmer: (39:45)
So it’s funded through the CARES act. We know that after World War II, one of the ways that the United States of America showed appreciation to those who served our country and saved, those who put their own lives at risk to save others and to represent the United States were rewarded with the GI bill. And we wanted to do something similar. So we created this. As far as we know, we’re the first state in the country to do this. I’m hopeful that other states will replicate it, but this will be funded through those federal CARES act, which is going toward, identified to be going toward upskilling and education. So we know that this is another way that we can give our grocery store clerks who have been working so hard and put themselves on the line an opportunity if that’s one that they want. And it’s a way to show our gratitude. And it’s also a way to get closer to that 60% by 2030 goal of a postsecondary certificate or degree.
Speaker 8: (40:47)
Is it just emergency personnel and grocery store workers, or …
Gretchen Whitmer: (40:50)
No, it’s all the people who are on the frontline. So sanitation workers, people who are working in our hospitals. I mean, it’s people in that police and fire, first responders. So it is inclusive of all.
Speaker 9: (41:06)
Governor, given the fact that we’re in a pandemic and also face a $3 billion budget hole, would it be appropriate for you to just remove your name from Joe Biden’s running mate list just as purely from a distraction standpoint as running a state?
Gretchen Whitmer: (41:21)
You know what, David, I’m just going to be totally candid with you. I didn’t ask to be thrown into the national spotlight. I’ve been trying to do my job. And if the President of the United States hadn’t tweeted about me, I don’t know if the whole world would be focusing on this. If Vice President Biden hadn’t complemented me, I don’t know if people would still be talking about it. The fact of the matter is all I’m doing is my job and that’s all I’m going to stay focused on doing. The people of Michigan have been hurting. We’ve got to get this right. And so I’m not going to feed into any of that other distraction because this is where everything that I’m doing, all my energy, all my focus is right here at home in Michigan. This is the only place I’ve ever called home and this is the place where I always want to be.
Gretchen Whitmer: (42:12)
All right. Thanks everybody. Stay safe. Enjoy the weather.