Michigan Governor explained her side and said that she was only visiting her unwell father and wasn’t partying during her trip to Florida last month.
Defending herself against accusations, Governor Gretchen Whitmer told The Washington Post Live that “It is saddening; It is a two-day trip. I wasn’t partying in Miami.” and added that the trip was a “check-in” on her father who has a disease. “It was certainly not spring break.”
Whitmer recently warned the public about spring break trips, particularly to Florida, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. Two of her top aides, including Michigan’s health director also made a trip in southern states despite the state recommendation to avoid travel.
She’s now being accused of hypocrisy considering her trip occurred before she was vaccinated after it emerged this week.
A spokesperson for the governor reiterated Whitmer’s excuse to press.
“The governor did not go on spring break, and she has not left the state in over a month,” the spokesperson told media in an emailed statement. “In the past six months, she has left the state three times, once for the inauguration, once to assist her elderly father who is battling chronic illness, and once to visit Michigan’s National Guard troops.”
“All trips were very brief, two full days or less, closely followed public health guidelines and were made when Michigan’s daily positivity rate was in the low single digits,” the spokesperson added, noting that Michigan taxpayers did not pay for Whitmer’s travel.
The governor’s office declined to provide any further details about Whitmer’s trip, including dates, because of “ongoing security concerns.” The office did, however, confirm that Whitner’s parent has been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
But while Whitmer seems to believe that the purpose of her trip is relevant, her instructions to Michigan residents do not seem to vary based on whether Michigan residents visiting Florida are there to check in on a parent or whether they plan on sipping drinks on South Beach.
Michigan has faced worst-in-the-nation COVID-19 positivity rates in recent weeks, and Whitmer has laid blame on spring break travellers going to Florida. Whitmer urged people returning from the Sunshine State to work from home for a week or have their children learn remotely for a week.
Tiffany Brown, a spokesperson for Whitmer, said the trip was not at taxpayers’ expense and the governor was not away for long, according to the report. She pointed out that the governor is tested regularly for the virus and her father is vaccinated.
Ted Goodman, the communications director of the state’s Republican Party, told FOX 2 Detroit that Whitmer’s “blatant display of hypocrisy is an insult to every single Michigander impacted by her lockdown orders and travel warnings.”
“Not only did Whitmer and her top staffers’ vacation to Florida, but they tried to keep it secret because, for Whitmer, it’s: ‘rules for thee, but not for me,'” Goodman said.
Whitmer recently asked residents to press “pause” on social activities that would lead to public gatherings, such as dining out or going to sporting events.
Such isolation measures have become increasingly politicized, however, with leading Republicans like Gov. Ron DeSantis differing on their value. (Michigan ranks better than Florida for cases per capita but worse in deaths — both states are somewhere in the middle in a nationwide ranking.)
“Indoor dining, resumption of school sports, going back to school right after spring break — these are all things that we ask people not to do so that we can get our numbers down,” Whitmer told the Post.
She said pandemic politics haven’t worn off just because Trump’s out of office, either.
Last weekend, in Lansing, two masks fewer protests were held at a local Menards hardware store and on the campus at Michigan State University.
“I think that the toll of the politics of the last year around this public health crisis is things that didn’t end with the election,” Whitmer said. “They continue, and this is part of our challenge.”
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