Whitmer Calls for Federal Mask Mandate and a COVID Recovery Plan
LANSING - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference with Dr. Joneigh Khaldun on Tuesday, July 28, to provide a COVID-19 update to the state of Michigan.
Whitmer stressed the importance of staying diligent with mask-wearing and social distancing as wearing a mask alone can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by about 70%. She applauded President Trump for his statement that wearing a mask is patriotic, but said that more needs to be done.
The Michigan Governor is pushing for a federal mask mandate to slow down the spread of COVID-19 across the country. This is following Michigan’s own mask mandate earlier this month. However, Whitmer is calling for more federal assistance.
“A federal mask mandate would be a great start, but we also need a strong recovery plan from the federal government to help our small businesses, our owners, the first responders, our state government, our local government, so that we can all recover from this,” said Whitmer.
Whitmer said that the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s current plan does not work to support that states and the people living in them. She said that the plan does not designate a single dollar to the states to help get them back on their feet. Whitmer said that the plan also creates a complicated benefits situation that would overburden state unemployment agencies, hurting citizens in the process.
“Our working families can’t go that long without this important economic lifeline,” Whitmer said. “I implore everyone in Washington D.C. to stop the partisanship and get something done.”
Chief Medical Executive Khaldun said that in Michigan, there are 6,170 total deaths and 79,176 cases of the coronavirus. The numbers have plateaued for new cases and deaths, and overall hospitalization rates have remained steady.
Khaldun said that there were 78 new outbreaks within the last week. Out of those outbreaks, 31% have been from nursing homes, 22% social gatherings, 10% workplaces, 9% restaurants, and the rest from an assortment of bars, child care facilities, gyms and more.
However, contact tracing isn’t a flawless system. Khaldun expressed that there are still times when the local health department cannot find where a person caught COVID-19 from. About 68% percent of people are found not to have a link to their exposure site.
Some of the reasons for this comes from the people that the health department is lacking information from. This can be as a result of people not answering their phone, providing inaccurate contact information and tested individuals not giving out the contact information for people they have been in close contact with.
To combat the phone issue, Khaldun announced a new system where public health officials will be able to send out text messages that will alert people if the department will be contacting them soon.
“The more people know that they’ve been exposed and are in quarantine before they have a positive test result, the more we will be able to box in the disease,” said Khaldun.
When asked about schools reopening, Whitmer said that since school districts are all different, it is up to them what they would like to do as long as they stay in the guidelines of the MI Safe Start Roadmap.
Whitmer said that when examining what to do about schools, science will be the one to dictate any policy decisions, not politics.
“At the end of the day, this isn’t a political issue. This is about making sure that when we resume, we do so in a way that is safe, that is safe for our students and that is safe for our teachers,” said Whitmer. “Mask up, take care. Look out for one another and show one another a little bit of grace. These are trying times. We will get through this together if everyone does their part.”