Inside Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s coronavirus fight: ‘We know we saved lives'

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The COVID-19 health crisis has become a defining moment for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a first-term Democrat who ran on a pledge to “fix the damn roads” but struggled to do so during her first year of office. (Photo courtesy of the governor's office)

LANSING — Life changed forever for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — and all of Michigan — at 8:49 p.m. on March 10. 

That’s when Jim Collins, director of the communicable disease division in the Department of Health and Human Services, informed colleagues the state had confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

“Michigan has joined the ranks of all of the other great lake states,” Collins wrote in an internal email obtained by Bridge Magazine through a Freedom of Information Act request.

So began a public health crisis that has become a defining moment for the first-term Democrat who ran on a pledge to “fix the damn roads” but struggled to do so during her first year of office.

Like most residents, Whitmer rarely leaves home these days, practicing the social distancing she preaches while coordinating Michigan’s response to the pandemic from the state-owned governor’s residence in Lansing’s historic Moores River Drive neighborhood.

Whitmer’s neighbors have lined their yards with signs of encouragement amid the coronavirus pandemic. “I think that the governor's doing such a good job, and I said to my husband, ‘Gosh, you know, I wish I could just say to her thank you’,” said Gloria Rozeboom, who helped coordinate the effort. (Bridge photos by Jonathan Oosting)

But outside the neighborhood, public reviews of Whitmer’s performance as governor are more mixed. Opposition to her strict stay-home order prompted a conservative revolt and protests in downtown Lansing on Wednesday, while she’s become a rising Democratic star nationally, trading barbs on Twitter with President Donald Trump and generating vice-presidential buzz. 

Michigan had spent weeks planning for the pandemic, internal documents show, but Whitmer acknowledges the state — like the nation — was not fully prepared for a public health crisis with little precedent.

In a little more than a month, 28,000 state residents have been infected by the virus and 1,921 have died, as of Wednesday morning.

“If I could go back in time, would I have started stockpiling N-95 masks? Absolutely,” Whitmer said Tuesday, telling Bridge she wants to learn from experience to improve state systems, planning and communication. 

“Every leader who’s confronted this, if they were being honest and they had a time machine, we would have all started building up resources on [personal protection equipment] in particular.”

Like most states, Michigan maintained only a small cache of medical supplies — 5,120 N-95 masks, 500 face shields and 100 ventilators, for instance — but built emergency response plans that assumed shipments from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile.

And when initial shipments failed to meet demand, governors turned to the private market for alternatives, often bidding against each other or the federal government for crucial supplies. 

“We haven’t had a coordinated national response, and the messaging has been inconsistent,” Whitmer said. “Both of those things have undermined our ability to save lives.”

But as Whitmer and her team begin to develop plans to reopen the economy, she is resisting growing calls from Republican legislators to put certain sectors back to work immediately for fear of a second wave.

“We are starting to see the curve flattened, and we know that we saved lives,” Whitmer said. “The hard part is, if we’re successful, people will never fully appreciate how many lives we saved. That’s OK. That’s a part of being successful when you’re talking about public health.”

Hard times

Whitmer and her two teenage daughters responded to their neighbors’ show of unity by making signs of their own thanking those still at work including doctors, nurses, scientists, first responders, delivery drivers, grocery store workers and “everyone who is staying home.”

“These are hard times,” Whitmer said Tuesday. “I think sources of inspiration like that are really important in this moment.”

As of late March, polling conducted by a Republican firm, Marketing Resource Group, suggested Whitmer’s job approval ratings were surging: 60 percent of voters surveyed gave her high marks, up from 42 percent in October.

But Republican frustrations exploded into public view last week when the governor tightened her stay-at-home order through April 30, disregarding calls to reopen sectors where employees could maintain social distancing and imposing stricter rules than most other states. 

Some confused retailers stopped selling child car seats, bug spray and plant seeds, which Whitmer insists she never intended to ban and can still be purchased in stores or online

Hundreds of protesters descended on downtown Lansing on Wednesday to protest Whitmer's latest stay-at-home order. A political consultant said of the order: “I think most people agree that a stay-at-home order is appropriate, but the implementation of it has not been very smooth. That’s what’s frustrating people.” (Bridge photo by Dale Young)

Whitmer did a “pretty good job” explaining early actions like school and bar closures, but her latest stay-at-home order may prove an “inflection point” in public perception, said John Truscott, a public relations consultant who served as press secretary to Republican former Gov. John Engler. 

“I think most people agree that a stay-at-home order is appropriate, but the implementation of it has not been very smooth,” he said. 

“That’s what’s frustrating people.”

Time for TV

Whitmer starts her days at 5 a.m., enjoying quiet time with coffee and “all the news” before her daughters or husband are awake. 

Her official work day begins at 8 a.m. with a staff conference call, and wraps up 12 hours later with another team call at 8 p.m.

“And usually every minute between those two is full” of conference calls and check-ins, Whitmer said, noting she only occasionally breaks to take her dog, Kevin, for a walk. “My husband is doing most of that these days.”

Whitmer has found time for media interviews — lots of them.

Her public calendar included 21 time slots for media interviews in the final 21 days of March, along with 13 slots for legislator calls, six slots for director-level calls and five separate White House briefings.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on MSNBC

Whitmer's public calendar included 21 time slots for media interviews in the final 21 days of March. “Every time I go on national news, I educate more people about what is happening and why COVID-19 is so dangerous and why we’ve got to stay home — and I get offers of help for the state of Michigan." 

Whitmer is a national co-chair for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign, and her ascension as a potential running mate has made her a target of GOP leaders. On Tuesday, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel called on Whitmer to “stop auditioning for VP & do your job!”

Trump Victory, the joint RNC and presidential campaign committee, has ramped up attacks in recent days. Whitmer’s is “bungling Michigan’s war on COVID-19 by imposing authoritarian rule over Michiganders,” the group said Monday.

McDaniel, who lives in Michigan and previously led the state GOP, argued Whitmer’s time on TV would have been better spent on the ground, noting the governor had criticized Trump before requesting a major disaster declaration from his administration. 

Trump, in turn, has bashed Whitmer, referring to her infamously as “that woman from Michigan,” a phrase later immortalized on T-shirts including one the governor wore on a late-night comedy show.

Whitmer on Trevor Noah

President Donald Trump has repeatedly bashed Whitmer, referring to her infamously as “that woman from Michigan,” a phrase later immortalized on T-shirts, including one the governor wore on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah."

Whitmer called criticism over her media schedule “ridiculous.”

“The fact of the matter is, if I wasn’t taking every opportunity to ask for help, I wouldn’t be doing my job,” she said. “Every time I go on national news, I educate more people about what is happening and why COVID-19 is so dangerous and why we’ve got to stay home — and I get offers of help for the state of Michigan.”

Decisions based on science

The Flint water contamination crisis of 2014 that defined former Gov. Rick Snyder’s second term showed the importance of putting public health at the forefront of policy decisions, Whitmer said.

“We’re reminded every single day — hold on, I’m going to let my dog out — that we’ve got to make decisions based on where the science leads us,” Whitmer told Bridge during a phone call. 

“And it’s hard. There are a lot of pressures on family budgets. There are a lot of pressures on individual budgets, businesses and of course the state of Michigan.”

On Sunday, for instance, Whitmer spent her morning connecting with national health experts, including former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former White House health adviser Dr. Zeke Emanuel and doctors from the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins University and the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Her decision-making team includes Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, and Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. DTE Chair Gerry Anderson and retired Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting are also providing input from the business and medical communities, Whitmer said.

The governor said she also regularly and remotely meets with Michigan doctors and nurses using Zoom teleconferencing software.

Documents obtained by Bridge through a public records request show the state health department had spent the better part of two months preparing for the pandemic.

Staff had worked “night and weekends for more than six weeks” before the state’s first confirmed case, according to a March 10 email from Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the bureau of epidemiology and population health.

Still, critics have raised questions over how prepared the state was to implement those plans, handle the surge in unemployment claims that has resulted in 1 million claims (1 in 4 state workers) and provide real-time data on such things as available intensive care beds demanded by health officials and the general public

Some health experts also have questioned whether Whitmer waited too long to halt public gatherings, allowing the virus to gain steam.

Calm and steady

Whitmer has been a “calm and steady” voice amid the crisis but could have done more early on to message directly to African-American residents who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, said Detroit political and public relations consultant Greg Bowens. 

Detroit has emerged as a national hotspot for the infectious disease, which has spread to high-ranking city officials in law enforcement and state government.  Statewide, about 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths have been African Americans.

“To me, that’s strong evidence of how we failed collectively to get to the black community,” said Bowens, a Democratic Party activist.

Former administration officials who spoke with Bridge — Republicans and Democrats alike — were generally complimentary of Whitmer’s initial response to the pandemic.

“Like all governors, she’s had to struggle with the lack of equipment, the lack of testing, the lack of coordinated response, and she’s done a pretty good job given the circumstances she’s facing,” said Bill Rustem, an adviser to Republican former Govs. William Milliken and Rick Snyder.

But how and when the governor decides to reopen the economy “is going to be crucial and probably the biggest part of what she’s remembered for,” said Truscott, the former Engler aide.

Dennis Muchmore, another former Snyder adviser, said he thinks Whitmer has been “decisive” but benefited from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine taking similar steps a day or so before her in mid-March, which prepared the Michigan public for business closures and limits on public gatherings.

“I don’t like the last executive order much,” Muchmore said of Whitmer’s expanded stay-at-home order, “but I’ve been in the middle of these things. You know a lot of stuff that nobody else knows.”

Still, Muchmore questioned why civil libertarians have not raised more concerns about the governor’s sweeping use of emergency authority to limit basic rights. 

“I don’t want to hear anybody bitch about emergency managers any more,” he said, referencing the controversial law that Snyder used to take over finances of cities including Flint and Detroit.

National attention

One year ago, Whitmer was lobbying the GOP-led Legislature to approve a 45-cent gas tax increase her own party eventually abandoned. That sparked a months-long budget battle and a near government shutdown she only averted by a record-breaking veto spree that strained relationships.  

But her star has risen during her second year in office, first as the Democratic choice to respond to Trump’s State of the Union Address, and now as a national figure in the global pandemic. 

Between March 19 and April 1, there were more than twice as many social media interactions on stories about Whitmer than there were on stories about other leading pandemic figures like Vice President Mike Pence, according to NewsWhip data reported by Axios. Among governors, only Andrew Cuomo of New York had a larger social media impact.

Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer

Joe Biden toured a health center in Grand Rapids with Gretchen Whitmer on March 9. "I think she has good rapport with Biden, which is really important," said former Michigan governor Jim Blanchard. (Photo by Adam Schultz / Biden for President)

“It has been an amazing transformation from the kind of profile she had last year, which I think was basically a disappointment to a lot of Democrats in terms of her actual accomplishments,” said Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.  

“We’ve kind of forgotten about the initial agenda.”

Appearing on national TV gives Whitmer a large platform to highlight her state while also shaping the conversation around the crisis, Truscott said. And if she can withstand Trump’s jabs, it’s probably good to get his attention, he suggested.

Trump “sees the numbers, so he knows what’s going on, and he also is one to react to what he sees in the media,” Truscott said. “And I think from that standpoint, it probably got us to the front of the line in terms of receiving federal help.”

Former Michigan governor Jim Blanchard, a Democrat and an early Biden campaign backer, said he thinks there’s a “50-50” chance the former vice president picks Whitmer as his running mate. 

“She is doing a good job under a real crisis, which is a good test of if somebody’ qualified for the job,” Blanchard said, noting Whitmer’s record might otherwise be thin after running the state for less than two years.

“And I think she has good rapport with Biden, which is really important.”

Blanchard knows something about how to manage a financial crisis and make difficult decisions. When he took office in 1983, the state had a 17 percent unemployment rate and a budget hole so deep it had taken out loans from Japanese banks, he said. 

Whitmer has done a “great job, but having said that, when you propose and enact harsh remedies, some people are not going to be happy,” Blanchard said. “The longer this goes, the harder it’s going to be.”

Whitmer, for her part, said she’d still rather be working on fixing those roads.  But that feels “like a distant memory now,” she acknowledged. 

“As a mom, I want to be planning my daughter’s high school graduation,” she said. “That’s a milestone that we’re not going to be able to do. We’re all struggling, but we’re tough, and we’re smart, and if we stay united we’re going to get through this better. We’re going to see the horizon.”


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Thu, 04/16/2020 - 8:07am

The protest in Lansing yesterday was not a republican march. It was a large group of Michigan taxpayers who disagree with having their constitutional rights taken away by a power hungry leader. This is not a political issue but a human rights issue and you are not helping the citizens of this great state by being a mouthpiece and PR firm for Gretchen Whitmer !!

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:23am

Agree Michael. I think she has angered a lot of "Oakland County Housewives" who probably voted for her. This makes a good case study for Social Judgement Theory. While most of the original order was in a majority of many peoples' latitude of non commitment, the new restrictive order has fallen into many more peoples' latitude of rejection. The turnout yesterday was not just the Trump supporters who have a high ego involvement against Whitmer, but many people who probably gave her the benefit of the doubt and voted for her for Governor. And, I don't think the press briefing (which I'm sure is being done for damage control) yesterday afternoon did her any favors. She needs a better reason than the gas pump handle for why the order has such non-science based, arbitrary definitions of what is essential and does not follow the principle of "what is good for one is good for all." I believe the CDC has guidance for how to pump gasoline safely . And there are articles in the mainstream press that quote doctors from reputable healthcare organizations who have opinions that the risk of catching the COVID 19 from a gasoline pump is extremely low. While I do not have any research to support my statements, I think looking at the followers of members of the two Facebook groups(38,809 and 13,107 respectively) who sponsored the rally yesterday is relatively low compared to the Facebook page Michiganders against EXCESSIVE Quarantine (350,000+ members in 6 days) which is not aligned or affiliated with any political party.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:13am

Most of the world is shut down. It is doubtful you know much about science, so how can you call her anti-science? There are asymptomatic carriers spreading the virus. Yet the Republican's refused to wear masks while blocking ambulances. Pathetic.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 12:10pm

In spite of being in polar opposition, I can't criticize everything that was done some closures of employers, schools, gyms, restaurants were reasonable and probably effective. Others have scant evidence and reek of authoritarian regulatory overreach. But the fact that she goes on and on and repeated several times, about some guy who thinks he might have caught the virus from some gas pump handle somewhere along the way sometime in the past as a reason for ANYTHING shows she is an ignoramus or thinks we are!

Oakland Woman
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 2:39pm

"Oakland County Housewives", Brian? Do you want to talk for us or talk directly to our husbands? Jesus Christ you are such a clueless jerk. People like you anger me, not the governor. What makes you think you speak for me? Not only did "Oakland County Housewives" elect Gretchen Whitmer to represent us, but we also replaced L Brookes Patterson with a DEMOCRAT. You have no idea how such ignorant comments like your inspire us to vote in larger numbers. You want to put our families at risk for a pandemic so you can make a political point, nothing else. It's vile. Maybe you don't care about family values, but I do and so do MOST "Oakland County Housewives". Moreover we care about all the lower income minorities who are at risk because their health directly affects ours.


Fri, 04/17/2020 - 3:14pm

The Michigan population is just under 10 million. So even if a few million people are complaining, I'd say they're in the minority who don't care about others. Everyone is frustrated. We are all making sacrifices for the greater good and the government has been trying to offer compensation. So be patient. Be grateful you can spend time with your family. Cherish what you have, instead of thinking about what you want. This too shall pass. Maybe this is the first time in your life you've really had to sacrifice. Be glad for that too! Things could be far worse than just having some short-term financial problems. Someone or many people you love could be dying or in the hospital alone. If you don't believe the news, ask anyone you know in the medical field.

John Paul
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 7:55pm

We understand your point Respectfully- even if millions of people feel that their rights and freedoms are being broken, you're okay with it because minority rights don't matter. You are very wise to have decided that everyone else should be locked up in their houses regardless of whether they want to or not. "Cherish what you have"- what a philosopher you are, sitting in your nice house, your bills being paid because you didn't lose your job because you work for the government and none of them lost their jobs or lost their pay. Look at you, looking down on those poor serfs and their "short term financial problems" like losing their homes, their kids college savings, their retirement- you're quite a person.

Robert Kleine
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:24am

What it is is a public health issue. The right not to die is a human rights issue. This virus is much more deadly than the flu. If as many people caught this virus as catch the flu, millions would die. I think it is a worth some inconvenience to potentially save millions of lives. The economic impact is certainly a problem but this will be cushioned by the trillions of dollars the Federal Govt. is pumping into the economy. That said, we need to find a way to open up most parts of the economy within about a month.

Middle of the left
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:35am

Totally agree with you - I am definitely on the liberal side though I detest the opinions of many of my peers. I don't like Trump for personal reasons, not for anything that he has done to this country because like it or not he has done a better job than the last president I actually voted for (obama who was a big dissapointment). I was there with my family and I am sure that we were not the only ones.

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 2:44pm

Were you the guys with the confederate flags or the guys without masks giving candy to children or the guys blocking the emergency entrance to the hospital, by chance? Something tells me you really aren't telling the truth because otherwise you'd be embarrassed to admit you were there. Then again, I see you didn't post your name.....

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 10:27am

Sadly, it's all a political show by people with low self esteem who define their self worth by their job. They are acting out because they feel they have no personal control over the virus. If they had any real scruples, they would stay home or create new jobs to fight the virus, the true enemy. Obviously they haven't had to deal with the virus on a personal level yet. My mom's in the hospital alone and I can't visit her. My best friend died and I couldn't be at the funeral. If my mom dies, they might store her in a refrigerator truck. I just can't understand these protests. I do understand the frustrates, just not the target.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 1:13pm

Sorry to hear about your friend and your mom, they are supposed to try to provide video and phone calls for the people who are in hospitals at this time--it was part of the executive order, I'm pretty sure (I've read so much stuff lately, it all mixes together sometimes). Please try to make sure that you are able to process everything so that you don't end up with severe PTSD over all of this. This whole situation is terrifying enough without people making it worse and risking to spread this virus even more, we definitely need more people like you right now. I, for one thank you for being strong and level headed and not running around spreading the virus. I hope your mom is comfortable and gets well soon.

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 2:54pm

Unfortunately a lot of seniors have flip phones. Sometimes we try to communicate with families using our personal phones. Sometimes their loved ones don't have I Phones. God knows, we're trying our best. We really wish people would not treat this like a joke. This is so hard on everyone at or near the front line. We are working in such awful circumstances, putting our own families at risk, understaffed, without PPE, working long hours. I get it. My husband is a landscaper, but he understands that we have to open the economy with care, testing. Why is that so hard for people to grasp? We could open the economy tomorrow and reassess our overall medical needs, if we had massive testing. So if I offended anyone. I'm tired and need sleep.

Karen Dunnam
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:56am

"The protest in Lansing yesterday was not a republican march"

Sure were a lot of political images, "T" flags, GOP lawmakers ...

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 2:56pm

Don't forget the assault rifles.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 5:59pm

The Lansing 'protest' was clearly a partisan generated Trump rally.
Trump unleashed one of his most bizarrely unhinged performances at the Coronavirus Task Force briefing (aka Trump Campaign Rally). He produced a fictional list of corporate executives he said were members of a new economic task force. He reiterated his delusional view that he has "total authority" and threatened to shut down Congress. And of course, he bragged about imaginary achievements and yelled petulantly at reporters. Then he stomped out in huff when he didn't like the questions.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:12am

Whitmer is not getting much respect these days, especially outside Michigan. In fact, nationally, our governor is an embarrassment and a disgrace to the state of Michigan. Her hopes of getting a VP appointment have also evaporated, so it looks like Michigan will not get rid of her that way. Our only hope is a recall, which is underway.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 10:29am

"Our only hope is a recall." Are you trying to recall the virus? (Shaking my head in despair)

Joey Lane
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:16am

I think he meant that the only hope of getting rid of her was to recall her. Michigan government has a provision which allows citizens to remove an elected official in the middle of their term of office-that's call a recall. He was saying that in order to remove the Governor of Michigan, we would need to recall her.

That's probably not going to happen though. To recall the Governor is a lengthy process involving lots of legal mumbo-jumbo- there are commission, paperwork, and even rules on the size of paper that must be circulated to collect the signatures. The political classes have worked hard to protect themselves and to reward their supporters and will continue to do so. These fault lines between the people and the elites are becoming even more clear during this stressful crisis.

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 3:22pm

I know. I thought it was a dumb idea. Why recall the governor? She's doing a great job. The enemy is the virus. We need to increase testing so we can contain the virus. Otherwise we can't open the economy. It's simple, not just wishful thinking like picking a random date, like say, Easter Sunday. You need to use science, not political commentators. Of course I know what a recall is. Science is not about "elites". It's about getting to the moon, creating vaccines, stopping polio. What is wrong with you people? Seriously

Joey, I don't blame you. You are just talking about legal processes, but it's crazy how we can think there are two sides to a pandemic. Only Trump could find a way to divide us under these circumstances.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 1:58pm

Behind New York and New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts are roughly tied for the grim distinction of third-most coronavirus cases in the country, each with more than 28,000 people infected.

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 11:55am

The Governor is oddly not ashamed by those horrible numbers. She has led Michigan boldly to the worst numbers in combating the virus and the worst numbers in the economy. She is not doing a good job, that’s all. I don’t know how anyone can argue this.

What U Doin?
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 3:25pm

That's because her efforts are working. Michigan is now in fifth place for new cases. The GOP hates to see positive results, especially when Democrats deserve the credit.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 3:14pm

What makes you think she "hopes" to be a VP candidate? You make a lot of assumptions, and she has not acknowledged references to it. You make this political as soon as you start pointing figures and blaming. What are YOU doing to actually reduce the infection rates rather than making this last longer? I hope you are at home, at least.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:20am

I am a life long republican. That said, I abhor the current GOP party both in Washington and Michigan. The protests in Lansing yesterday were nothing short of an opportunist partisan attack promoted by Michigan GOP at time when American's should be standing together. Whitmer is doing the right thing, Washington isn't. Turn off Fox propaganda and try independent journalism. ProPublica, American Oversight, The Intercept, The Atlantic, VOX, Foreign Policy, AXIOS, Time. The Lincoln Project is a site created by some Republican's, one of whom is George Conway. Yesterday, they endorsed Joe Biden, a Democrat because they are distraught at the actions of Washington. This pandemic has been mishandled and continues to be mishandled. Those tests promised, they've not increased, they decreased! I stand with our Governor who is doing the intelligent responsible thing.

Bend over for t...
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:24am

Let's see if I've got this right.....
People died: President Trumps fault.
People lived: the peasants should all get on their knees and thank Queen Whitmer for saving them.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:30am

Lost some respect for Muchmore with his inane comparison to emergency managers act. That act led to the poisoning of Flint children, via a law that was strengthened through Republican chicanery. Snyder's team initially ignored, hid, and derided the Flint crisis. and most in the so-called Republican leadership still fail to accept responsibility.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:33am

"Some confused retailers stopped selling child car seats, bug spray and plant seeds, which Whitmer insists she never intended to ban and can still be purchased in stores or online

Whitmer did a “pretty good job” explaining early actions like school and bar closures, but her latest stay-at-home order may prove an “inflection point” in public perception, said John Truscott, a public relations consultant who served as press secretary to Republican former Gov. John Engler. "

If she did such a pretty good job, what are there so many inconsistencies in her "orders" that you need an ever expanding Q&A page to answer?

Why is there a backlog of legislative officials seeking "clarification" on which businesses within their districts can open? Strangely, THIS fact gets dutifully ignored by the media? I cannot imagine why.

Why is it that AG Nessel, when asked about the effects on Constitutional Rights, tells reporters to consult the aforementioned Q&A page?

And why is it that when Gov. Karen parrots the tired response "I hear you" (i.e. lottery sales, liquor stores, hydroseeding the freeways are okay...ALL big box retail, bars and home landscaping are you trying to spread the virus), she doesn't just come out and fix them if she really is on top of things as the above piece is doing a slam-bang up job of trying to spin?

So, Mr. Oosting? When do you begin your new job as part of VP Karen Whitmer's campaign staff?

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:11am

Your remarks are so childish Kevin. Adults are able to synthesize information and come to a rational conclusion. Reread your post. It sounds like a 6 year old on the play ground.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:33am

Okay, Bernadette, since you seem to understand the logic behind the governors dictates, please explain to everyone the inconsistencies in her thinking?


Liquor stores?

Lawn Services?

Enlighten us.

Jimmy L
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 1:54pm


If I heard a child on a playground speak in the manner in which Kevin does, I would nominate them for governor as they would certainly be more qualified than Whitmer.

That is all. Have a good CNN

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:47am

Success in fighting the virus has nothing to do with what the governor says. It will only happen when large groups of people realize that what they do will determine whether they catch the disease or not. Many small business owners are setting up "sell stations" with protection for both the employee and customer. Even larger businesses such as auto dealers are joining in with methods to serve their customers and keep everyone safe. Whitmer had nothing to do with all this. In fact, she is a hindrance by unilaterally declaring that this business should open but this other business must close. If Whitmer wants to participate in abating the virus in Michigan, she should focus her efforts on those who will not social distance or protect themselves.

And Bridge, please stop saying you are non-partisan when everything you do shows that you are just chomping at the bit to get democrats elected up and down the ballot.

middle of the mit
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 6:44pm


Who are you trying to fleece? You really believe these businesses started doing these things BEFORE the shut down order?

Ha ha ha ha!!!

Go back to FOX News. They are REALLY FAIR AND BALANCED!


This is the problem when conservative think that perception is truth.

Fine Arjay!

Let's open it all up and whoever gets sick gets to sue their employer for endangering their lives if they get sick and die or any member of their family does.

YOU want RESPONSIBILITY? It's yours!

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 9:57am

Michigan quarantine is so effective, even hospitals are shutting down!

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 3:19pm

Oh for crying out loud! Read the article, not just the headline, before you make that kind of statement. Anonymous? Good choice.

Byron Prange
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 10:08am

Not sure why you have to make this story political. I protest the ban on products, activities, and business activity that could be accomplished with relative safety. There is risk to almost anything we do in life. No one can guarantee my absolute safety even without the virus. I can work on my garden, paint a room, or have my lawn mowed in complete safety without contact with anyone. I believe that the governor needs to revisit her directives and then explain to people the risks and allow her constituents living outside the hotspot of the Detroit area to begin moving back more normal way of life. This is NOT political, but common sense in how we approach life in a new normal.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 10:11am

Wow. It's easy to look back and say "she could have done more, and quicker". But people digging in their heels and not respecting stay-home orders aren't looking ahead to see that they will cause this to go on much longer. They are not thinking for one minute about the medical, first responder, grocery, cleaning and many other heroes whose lives are on the line protecting our health, risking their own. So go out there and golf. Throw your dice into the natural selection pool. Then hope a doctor is well enough to care for you.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 1:01pm

Cindy, you got it right with "natural selection". Look at yesterday's "protest". Infectious disease sickening tens of thousands in MI, killing thousands by the time it's over. Yet most "protestors" yesterday without masks, open car windows, kids hanging out of windows, lots of folks in very close proximity. Can't wish disease or death on anyone, but just wondering if we were witnessing nature's cleaning up the gene pool in action. Wish there were some way of tracking attendees and assessing if they will have contracted Covid-19 at a higher rate than those who are taking precautions.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 2:53pm

The protest in Lansing yesterday and the widespread dissatisfaction being expressed across Michigan isn't focused on the past - XO 2020-21. Rather it is a response to the grim future which is embodied in XO 2020-42. Many Michigan residents fear that continuing closures of most private businesses will lead to a new Great Depression. The disaffected you see protesting just lived through the Great Recession and are not anxious to experience an even worse economic calamity.

The lockdowns have now unemployed 22 million Americans, 15% of the total American workforce. And many more will become unemployed unless something changes ASAP. Today's unemployed get benefits that the victims of the original Great Depression could only dream of, but eventually those benefits won't buy much if companies stop producing goods and services. Government can print money, but it doesn't produce many goods. And the unemployed watch their lives grind into reverse gear. Years of personal progress gone in a month.

So those "medical, first responder, grocery, cleaning and many other heroes whose lives are on the line protecting our health" have a lot more to worry about than just the Wuhan virus. They will eventually suffer from a wrecked economy every bit as much as yesterday's protesters.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 10:11am

Wow. It's easy to look back and say "she could have done more, and quicker". But people digging in their heels and not respecting stay-home orders aren't looking ahead to see that they will cause this to go on much longer. They are not thinking for one minute about the medical, first responder, grocery, cleaning and many other heroes whose lives are on the line protecting our health, risking their own. So go out there and golf. Throw your dice into the natural selection pool. Then hope a doctor is well enough to care for you.

Almighty Dollar
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:11am

Yes the Republicans re unhappy. As far as "bitching about emergency managers" though, the reason people were unhappy is the voters weighed in on this and voted against emergency managers. Then he Republican's ignored it and poisoned Flint over $30,000 in chemicals......and it will end up costing several hundred million dollars.

Now, they've tried to do the same with the gerrymandering initiative. And so on.

It's no surprise that a few crazies put all the from line health workers at risk, demanding they be able to garden in 30 degree weather with snow falling. At least they got to wave their confederate flags, the symbol of a seditious movement that attacked our own country, armed forces, government, and caused 600,000 deaths. It seems they have no shame.

As to Rhonda Romney, use your name! Talk about a lack of spine. Trump tweets at you and you have to deny your own name! Good grief!

Todd S
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:11am

No mention of the State’s total failure to protect the vulnerable in our nursing homes and long term facilities? No mention of the State’s lack of transparency in reporting cases and deaths in those facilities? So the State was “preparing” for 6 weeks and had a glaring example in the Seattle Kirkland nursing home tragedy to study and yet still failed! How many lives did Gov Whitmer and her inept Health Dept. save there? The lack of foresight to redeploy PPE resources to these facilities was and is astounding.
Btw, the Western States (Cal, Ore. & Wash) Pact to reopen the economy lists as their number one goal: to protect the lives of those in nursing homes and long term facilities. It is just common sense. Protecting nursing homes leads to less crowded hospitals which leads to flattening the curve. Common sense, however, is sadly lacking in Lansing.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 12:20pm

Gee Todd, speaking of "no mention." It's the federal Government who has no interest and is not even keeping track of the deaths around the entire Nation in our nursing homes. Not only do they not mention it, they've made no move to deploy assistance to them to help mitigate a glaring growing rate of deaths. To many in Washington and locally we're all an acceptable loss.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 3:04pm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a huge health statistics operation which will report on all aspects of COVID-19 in due course, but they don't do real time publishing. As this pandemic plays out, definitions and categories will change, changing the statistics which are defined by them. This has already happened in New York, where they have revised their death toll up by over 3,000 after they discovered a massive increase in excessive deaths across the COVID-19 hot zone.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 12:37pm

Here is your common sense; Michigan: At least 1,921 deaths, 28,059 cases
❚ U.S.: 28,364 deaths,
637,359 cases
❚ World: 134,354 deaths,
2,060,927 cases *As of 9 p.m. Wednesday
Stay home until we have this under control.

Jimmy L.
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 1:20pm


Your "cases" numbers are factually incorrect. A vast majority of tests are being done on "at-risk" people - I.e. elderly, people with underlying health conditions, and people who are obese. I have now spoken directly with well more than one hundred people who were exposed at work, showed symptoms for a few days to a week, called the hotline, and were never tested. I work with about two dozen of these people and the rest are people I've assembled with against Whitler's "order". You need to take the "cases" number and multiply it by a factor of 10. This flu was spreading in the USA since January. This is fact.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:35am

The Michigan Conservative Coalition and Michigan Freedom Fund — founded by Greg McNeilly, political adviser to the family of Education Secretary 'Betsy DeVos' — planned the protest. These people have only their own interests, not the general publics. The numbers of deaths around the world are by far highest in the U.S.
These protests are being pushed by groups who have no interest in saving lives and will only delay openings.

Will Bacon
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 12:03pm

Cathy, you’re embarrassing yourself. I know you in real life and not the troll you are on here, and you’re better than this. The information about the protest is out there and East to find and is counter to your statements. DeVos’s family donates to an organization that paid $250 to advertise the protest- that doesn’t mean Betsy was behind it like the Governor suggested and then you sadly parroted. Stop being a liar and sadly embarrassing yourself.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 12:49pm

Gov. Whitmer's approval ratings have shot through the roof!! She's a strong leader, who has empathy, self confidence, and intelligence. That pseudo Trump rally yesterday made the Republicans look very, very bad to the rest of us Michiganders and Americans and the world. That didn't work, folks. Carrying guns and honking horns while blocking the emergency doors to a major hospital? Wow. Yeah.... Real smart way to get people to respect Republicans. You folks are really losing it. See you in November.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 1:54pm

She has not lead. From the start all she did was complain and no common sense with her restrictions. So, where us her Back To Work group? Who is on the committee? What is her plan? She appears to have none but flying by the seat of her pants.

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 3:30pm

Raise your hand if you have experience in dealing with a pandemic. All governors who are paying attention are trying to get equipment for their state. She has been calling attention to the fact that Michigan is in need, but being pushed aside. If that's "complaining," I hope she doesn't stop!

Thu, 04/16/2020 - 11:43pm

Had she been a good diplomat, she would have engaged the protesters leaders and looked for solutions. Instead, she did a media interview during the protest, bashed her constituents and treated them like the dirt on her shoes. She is a socialist, ladder climbing leftist. If selected for V.P. and elected? God help this country..

Captain Bligh
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 11:09am

Yeah, I think talking to these people and trying to hear their concerns might have been a better way to go about it than for her to say that the economic beating will continue until morale improves. Remember when she pretended that she was bipartisan and could work with both sides? I think that people are starting to see that she is who she has always been- a partisan nobody who has never done anything of note while always voting progressive. And now she's realized that she can parley that into a VP spot based on identity politics, and since it's a good bet that Sleepy Joe Bribem has dementia and won't be able to serve out his term, we may be looking at Governor Karen turning into President Karen. Sad stuff.

J Hendricks
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 8:18am

Bridge, this was a blatant puff piece and once again exposes your bias. The protest was needed to let the governor know that there is a limit to what the citizens will tolerate. Many states are making good progress without going overboard with senseless dictates. It is unfortunate but perhaps useful to us to see the confirmation that it is dangerous to have a Democrat leading a state (or a country) as they just love to use power to tell us what we can or cannot do. Because, you know, they are the smartest and most enlightened and God had chosen them to rule us poor stupid peasants.

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 7:18pm

The protest in Lansing was an embarrassment for our State, and didn't represent the majority of it's citizens. Watching and listening to these protesters was cringeworthy , some of the most ignorant statements I've ever heard, like you hear at most Trump rallies. Crazy fools whining over ten days of inconvenience. They don't speak for the majority, and definitely not for Oakland County. If these precautions helps save one life it's worth it. Michigan has 30,023 confirmed cases of the virus, with 2,227 deaths as of Friday. These are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters, and you want to whine about ten days of having to give something up, for the good of others is selfish , and irresponsible. Don't care if it's 80 tomorrow, won't be on the water at the family lake home, we'll survive.

Fun Facts
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 7:57pm

Every 1% hike in the unemployment rate will likely produce a 3.3% increase in drug overdose deaths and a 0.99% increase in suicides according to data provided by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the medical journal Lancet. These are facts based on experience, not models. If unemployment hits 32%, some 77,000 Americans are likely to die from suicide and drug overdoses as a result of layoffs.

Sandy Hill
Sat, 04/18/2020 - 10:44am

Look, the Governor is doing everything she can to go on national television outlets and congratulate herself for shutting down Michigan- what else do you want her to do? She printed up tshirts, emailed her campaign donors, and even scolded those who oppose her tyranny- she's working hard and that's all that matters. You crazies think results and rights matter- power and virtue signaling is all that matters. Grow up. God is dead, long live the Woman.

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 12:15am

Has anyone stopped to realize the pandemic that has effected mostly Democratic neighborhoods is a right wing ploy to divide and shut down this country only so they can reopen it in their own image. The Governors who have shut down the states have been played by the right wing to do their bidding for them, who first suggested the closure of all these businesses. By acting in the public's best interest Michigan's Governor has played right into their hands. Never again will our country be the home if the free. Think about what you have seen and read, above all else be safe.