Updated, 12:57 p.m. 9/10/20
Six months to the day since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Michigan — and more than 108,595 cases and 6,552 deaths later — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer praised Michiganders’ efforts to contain the outbreak better than most other states.
She also laid into the President Donald Trump administration for knowingly downplaying the severity of the virus early on, as revealed Wednesday by Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward, who helped break the Watergate scandal.
“They knew. They didn’t tell us. And I think the biggest enemy of the state right now is the misinformation that’s coming out of the head of state. I think the biggest threat to the American people is the American president right now. It’s devastating, and I do not relish saying that,” Whitmer said.
In a recorded interview with Woodward in February, Trump talked about COVID-19, acknowledging the virus’ highly infectious nature and its ability to spread through the air. He has been reluctant to publicly admit COVID-19 ‘s severity for the duration of the nation’s outbreak, which remains the worst in the world.
“My personal opinion was that this administration has been reckless and not particularly well informed. I’ve never believed that they read all the briefings that they’re supposed to read, but it’s a whole other thing to be reckless or ignorant, than to be deceptive and to have American lives lost because of it,” Whitmer said.
On Thursday morning, Trump attacked Woodward over the interviews on Twitter.
Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2020
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also blasted Trump for his comments during a Wednesday campaign event in Warren, which Whitmer attended. Trump is slated to hold a rally near Saginaw on Thursday.
But even without federal leadership, Michigan has served as a model for other states in COVID-19 containment efforts, Whitmer noted.
This is largely due to the state’s continuing ramp-up of tests for the virus. About 30,000 tests a day are being administered, she said, and Michigan is now seeing a consistent decrease in its seven-day case average.
Michigan’s positive test rate has risen slightly to 3.2%, however, said Michigan Department Health and Human Services (DHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. About 19,000 Michiganders have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 30 days.
But outbreaks are also being contained faster and more efficiently. Last week, Khaldun said there were 32 fewer new outbreaks and 65 fewer ongoing outbreaks than the week before.
“The aggressive action that we have taken over the last six months is working. But as always, we’ve got to remain vigilant,” Whitmer said. “And that means continuing to wear our masks and practice safe physical distancing, and doing everything in our power to protect ourselves, our families, our frontline workers, our most vulnerable populations and our economy.”