Whitmer: Federal govt. must ‘get their act together’ on COVID-19

Gov. bans events drawing more than 50 people

Gretchen Whitmer (left) and Donald Trump (right)

In an appearance on CNN’s “OutFront” Monday night, Whitmer spoke about the new measures and slammed the President Donald Trump administration for its lack of aggressive federal action on COVID-19.

“It is important that the federal government gets their act together and does so post-haste,” Whitmer told host Erin Burnett.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the coronavirus outbreak, March 11, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

She said Michigan has been trying to partner with in-state companies to obtain more respirators and ventilators after having little luck requesting supplies from the federal government – a situation which didn’t seem to be helped by a call Whitmer and other governors had with Vice President Mike Pence earlier on Monday.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Trump told the governors, a recording of which was shared with the New York Times. “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

Whitmer said in an emailed statement to the Advance that she and other governors highlighted “urgent needs and clear administrative action. I stressed the need to work with Congress to pass much needed relief via additional coronavirus response legislation. 

“It’s critical that we all work together at every level of government to ensure we’re able to take advantage of every resource we have to keep people safe and economically secure.”

A statewide coronavirus hotline will be open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136. Information can be found on the DHHS website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website.

On CNN, Whitmer slammed Trump for not showing leadership at a critical moment, adding that the COVID-19 outbreak could have been lessened if the administration had taken it seriously from the beginning.

“We are pulling out all the stops [in Michigan],” Whitmer said. “… As governors, we know that we have to step up and show the leadership in this country.”

Whitmer on Monday also signed Executive Order 2020-11, which prohibits all events and meetings drawing more than 50 people in shared indoor spaces in response to COVID-19, a disease caused by a new coronavirus.

There are now 54 positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan as of this story’s publication, although health officials believe that number is much higher. 

The new order goes into effect at 9 a.m. Tuesday and will remain in place until 5 p.m. April 20.

COVID-19 impact: Some jobless benefits extended; gyms, movie theaters, other businesses shut down

Executive Order 2020-11 changes the temporary restrictions imposed on events and assemblages by Executive Order 2020-5, to correspond with the most recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.

When the new restrictions go into effect, Executive Order 2020-5, which prohibited all events and assemblages over 250 people, will be rescinded. This order doesn’t change the scope of restrictions imposed by Executive Order 2020-5 as to the closure of elementary school buildings and secondary school buildings.

Exceptions to this new order include:

  • Health care facilities
  • Workplaces closed to the public
  • State Legislature
  • Mass transit
  • Grocery stores and markets
  • Farming and construction work

The Legislature is meeting amid coronavirus. Some lawmakers are worried.

“My number one priority remains to protect the most people we can from the spread of coronavirus,” said Whitmer. “We are all better off when all of us are healthy, and that’s especially true for the most vulnerable. These aggressive actions are aimed at saving lives. My administration will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of the disease and ensure our children, families, and businesses have the support they need during these challenging times. We are going to pull through this together, just as Michigan has done in the past.”

On Monday, Whitmer also signed two other new executive orders in response to COVID-19 cases in Michigan. As previously reported by the Advance, Executive Order 2020-10 aims to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits due to the appearance of COVID-19. Executive Order 2020-9 shut down public places like bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, spas and casinos.

Madeline Ciak
Madeline Ciak is a former Michigan Advance reporter. She’s a University of Michigan-Flint graduate and previously worked as a digital media manager at NBC25/FOX66 in Flint and a weekend producer at ABC12.
Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, immigration and criminal justice. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or listening to podcasts, she loves art and design, discovering new music, being out in nature and spending time with her two very special cats.