LANSING - Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference on Friday, August 14th at 11:00 am.
The conference went live on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter to give an update on the fight against COVID-19 and was joined by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, the state’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon and Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett to address the fight coronavirus pandemic over 5 months.
“To make it easier for those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and who need help securing masks, today we’re announcing the MI Mask Aid project,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. This project is a partnership involving MDHHS, FEMA, and the Ford Motor Company and is the results of the hard work of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist," Whitmer said.
Four million free masks are being provided to Michigan residents who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and Whitmer added, "1 million face coverings from FEMA and 1.5 million from Ford will go to low-income schools, the City of Detroit, Federally Qualified Health Centers, some COVID-19 testing sites and to many of the organizations listed above to reach vulnerable populations – including minority residents who have been affected by the public health crisis as a result of historic racism."
Michigan Coronavirus Task Force Chair by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist spoke and said, “The irony of this pandemic that requires physical distancing is that it reveals how connected we truly are—how much we rely on one another every day. I’m thankful for our partners at Ford, FEMA and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for coming together in a big way to ensure that our communities, particularly those hardest hit, have what they need to get through these tough times. By delivering four million masks at no cost to Michiganders, we can provide a proven, lifesaving device to countless residents as they go back to work, school, and define new way of living during this pandemic.”
The governor’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says, “Masks work and prevent the spread of the disease.” Khaldun encourages parents to teach their young children to wear a mask in public and has recommended that superintendents to require all students to wear masks, even in the classroom.
The director of MDHHS director, Robert Gordon spoke that across the world, states and countries where masks are worn regularly are seeing a better situation than those where they are not. Gordon noted that most people in Michigan have been wearing masks and that a survey showed Michiganders were among the most likely in the nation to wear them.
“Masks are proven to reduce a person’s chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent. There’s also growing evidence that masks can protect the wearer’s life, by reducing the severity of COVID if they get it. It’s critically important to make sure communities most impacted by COVID-19 have greater access to masks at no cost. The MI Mask Aid initiative is a critical step in this effort,” said Gordon.
Ford’s involvement makes MI Mask Aid a public-private partnership that can provide even more free masks. CEO of Ford Motor Co. Jim Hackett was honored to able to attend and thanked everyone who spoke and was proud to stand on the shoulders of Ford Motor Co. and UAW (United Auto Workers.) “Throughout history Ford has stepped up in times where there was significant need. This is a moment our country needs us and where stepping up. Today we continue in our efforts with the State of Michigan and in coordination with the Task Force on Racial Disparities, by donating face masks to serve communities especially vulnerable to COVID-19,” said Hackett.
Anyone interested in receiving a free mask can find a distribution location by calling the COVID-19 Hotline or contacting their local Community Action Agency online.