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Gov. Whitmer responds to president's plan to violate executive order and tour Ford plant

Posted at 5:57 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 06:28:01-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she had a casual conversation recently with the Joe Biden campaign as they work to choose a running mate in the presidential election, but she says her focus is on leading Michigan through the COVID-19 crisis.

As people in metro Detroit see parts of Michigan move into the next phase – easing restrictions aimed to stop the spread of COVID-19 – there is a big question they are asking: when will it happen here?

During a one-on-one interview with 7 Action News, Gov. Whitmer said to remember where we were, as we look at where we are going. Just eight weeks ago, some hospitals in Michigan were at capacity. The number of COVID-19 cases was skyrocketing.

“Michigan has lost the fourth highest number of people in our country even though our population is the tenth highest," Whitmer said. "So we’ve had a really tough run with COVID-19. The good news is the vast majority of people have done the right thing. They have pushed down that curve. We have saved thousands of lives and kept our hospital systems able to get through this."

Now there is hope.

The governor announced Monday that the Upper Peninsula and the Traverse City area will move into phase 4 of the "MI Safe Start Plan." Retail businesses, bars and restaurants will be able to open with 50 percent capacity. The governor said this is not the time to travel to those areas to take advantage of the change.

“They don’t want that and we don’t want that," she said. "That is why we have kept a lot of the restrictions in place. We have said that at the local level they can pull back if they want to."

She says her hope is to transition other sections of the state from phase 3 to phase 4 in the coming weeks, possibly even days.

In the meantime, President Donald Trump plans to visit a Ford plant in Ypsilanti on Thursday that is manufacturing ventilators, despite the fact the governor’s executive order bans tours of plants to protect workers.

Her response?

"The president coming in to see the incredible work that is being done and all the high standards with regard to protocols is a good thing. And I would just hope that everyone who's participating would observe those same protocols. So we want everyone to wear a mask, and I hope that they do."

The president did not answer as to whether he would wear a mask when asked. He said it would depend on the situation.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

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See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.