Whitmer warns: ‘The next two months are going to be hard’ during pandemic

Again urges GOP-led state Legislature to act

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a press conference on voting, Oct. 28, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday again called on the GOP-led state Legislature to support a $100 million COVID-19 relief, to extend unemployment benefits for Michiganders that expire at the end of the year, and to pass a public mask requirement. 

“We have to be resilient to see this through,” Whitmer said during a news conference. “We’ve got to continue to work together to eradicate and beat this virus. I’m not going to sugarcoat this: The next two months are going to be hard.”

On the question of the extension of the current Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) order that closed dine-in service at bars and restaurants and other businesses as well as in-person classes for colleges and high schools through Dec. 8, Whitmer said “It’s too early to say…we have not predetermined anything.”

“I understand the frustration,” said Whitmer, comparing the death toll of COVID-19 in Michigan to the 2,977 deaths that occurred during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. “I understand the fear. None of these decisions that have had to be made over the last 12 months has been easy. Every single one of them has been weighed heavily by me by all of us. Yet we know that this virus has taken the lives of over 9,000 people in Michigan.

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“When Sept. 11th happened, the whole world stopped. We helped one another. We saw the humanity in one another. We stepped up to do our part. We forever changed the way we live and how we travel. Because that’s how we keep one another safe. We’ve had over three 9/11’s here in Michigan in the last 10 months.”  

State House and Senate Republican members have continually pushed back on codifying a public-masking wearing mandate. However, Whitmer and Republicans did agree to an extension of the unemployment benefits in October.  

In a related development, more than a dozen U.S. House and Senate members are pushing for a bipartisan coronavirus relief package to aid struggling states and local governments and fund programs such as unemployment and rental assistance that are set to expire later this month. Among them are U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) and Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), both members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also reported Tuesday that 366,242 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 9,324 have died from the virus, which is an additional 5,793 cases and 190 deaths since Monday, which includes 30 deaths identified during a vital records review.

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DHHS reports that an additional 29,211 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 435 probable deaths. Combining the state’s confirmed positive cases with probable cases brings the total up to 395,453 statewide cases and confirmed deaths with probable deaths brings the total up to 9,759 deaths. The department began tracking probable cases and deaths on April 5. 

The virus has been detected in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. The state’s COVID-19 fatality rate has dropped again slightly to 2.5%.

The first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state on March 10. Whitmer declared a state of emergency that day.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are more than 63 million confirmed cases worldwide and 1.5 million deaths. About one-fifth of those are in the United States, where more than 13.6 million confirmed cases and 269,667 deaths have been recorded.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.