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Whitmer: Michigan's State of Emergency is not a political debate

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer discusses her thoughts on criticism from Republican leaders over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer discusses her thoughts on criticism from Republican leaders over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.(WJRT)
Published: Apr. 29, 2020 at 5:03 PM EDT
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(4/29/2020) - As the Michigan Legislature met on Wednesday to discuss an extension of the coronavirus State of Emergency, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the action is not up for debate.

She declined to engage in a political debate with Republican legislative leaders over when restrictions can be released. Instead, Whitmer said those decisions will be based on facts, science, data and risk.

"They are acting as though we are in the middle of a political problem," she said of Republicans critical of her orders during the coronavirus pandemic. "This is not a political problem we have. It’s a public health crisis.”

Republicans believe Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order over-reaches by closing too many businesses and by failing to account for lower levels of coronavirus in some rural areas of the state.

Whitmer said she is saving lives and her orders are necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"I am completely focused on saving lives. I'm not going to engage in political negotiations with anybody," Whitmer said. "We don't have time for politics and games when people's lives are on the line."

New statistics from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday show the state has more than 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 3,700 deaths.

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Whitmer pointed out the number of deaths from coronavirus in the state over the past two months exceeds the number of Michigan residents who died in the entire Vietnam War.

Whitmer is seeking a two-week extension of the State of Emergency, which currently expires on Thursday. The extension, which requires legislative approval, would run until mid-May.

She believes the extension is necessary because the coronavirus emergency remains. However, she said her executive orders and emergency powers would not be affected if the Legislature doesn't approve the extension.

She believes the Michigan Constitution and various state laws provide adequate authority to continue unilateral executive action to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“This is the very kind of crisis these were created for,” Whitmer said.

She promised to continue using data in reopening parts of the economy based on the the MI Safe Start plan unveiled on Monday.

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Whitmer said her administration and the Michigan Economic Recovery Council have been talking with business owners. They are eager to reopen, but only if they can stay open by avoiding a second wave of coronavirus.

Governor Whitmer Provides Update on State's Response to COVID-19

The stream will available at 2:55 p.m. and the press conference will begin at 3 p.m.

Posted by Michigan State Police on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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