Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slammed one of President Trump’s coronavirus advisers, calling his statements “incredibly reckless,” after tweeting that residents of the state should “stand up” against the news pandemic restrictions.
Whitmer announced on Sunday that the state would temporarily ban indoor dining in restaurants and bars, in-person high school and college classes, and high school athletics, while also shutting down businesses like movie theaters, bowling alleys and casinos.
The closures will begin Wednesday and last until December 8.
Following the announcement, Trump’s White House coronavirus task force member Dr Scott Atlas took to Twitter to criticize the measures and urged people to “stand up.”
He wrote: “The only way it stops is for people to stand up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp. ‘
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (pictured) slammed Trump’s coronavirus adviser Dr Scott Atlas after tweeting residents should ‘stand up’ against new lockdown rules
Donald Trump’s coronavirus adviser Dr Scott Atlas (pictured) claimed his tweet to ‘stand up’ against new state coronavirus restrictions did not encourage violence
Three hours later, he forwarded the frowning tweet with another saying he meant people should vote and protest peacefully against the new lockdown.
‘Hey. I have NEVER mentioned violence. People vote, people protest peacefully. I would NEVER endorse or incite violence EVER !! ‘ he wrote.
Whitmer – the recent target of an alleged kidnapping plot – on Monday told reporters Atlas’ comments were “incredibly reckless.”
“It’s just incredibly reckless considering everything that’s happened, everything that’s going on,” she said. “We all really need to focus on the public health crisis that is ravaging our country and which poses a very real threat to all of us.”
During an on-air appearance on MSNBC‘s Morning Joe on Monday, Whitmer also explained how surprised she was with Atlas’s tweet.
“It took my breath away, to tell you the truth,” she said. “We are in the midst of the worst weeks of this pandemic. We have been going through this for nine months and at the moment the numbers are as bad as they have been at one point and so we need to take aggressive action.
Whitmer added that “with the leadership vacuum in Washington DC, it is up to state governors to do what we can to save lives.”
Michigan’s seven-day average of new daily cases more than doubled from 3,113 to 6,684 in two weeks. It has almost quintupled from 30 days ago.
Whitmer (left) said Atlas’s comment (right) was ‘reckless’ given the high number of coronavirus infections occurring in the state right now
Daily deaths have also increased from 25 to 62, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
The number of patients currently hospitalized, around 3,000, has increased sixfold in less than two months.
Whitmer said Republicans have been included in calls in which health experts modeled cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Without aggressive measures now, she warned, Michigan could see 20,000 more deaths by February. The state has reported nearly 8,400 confirmed or probable deaths from COVID-19 and about 275,000 cases.
“If everyone does their part, we’ll see an advantage in the next few weeks,” Whitmer said. “If people are lax or have Thanksgiving events where they help spread, our numbers will not change significantly or may continue on this terrible trajectory they have been on.”
Atlas’s Sunday tweet is expected to increase tensions between the White House and Whitmer, who said she would not be bullied in responding to the comments.
Michigan, which was a battleground state in this month’s presidential race, has become a center of unrest from Republican President Donald Trump and his supporters over the stay-at-home orders it has imposed earlier this year to curb coronavirus transmissions.
WHAT ARE MICHIGAN’S NEW CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS?
- High schools, colleges and universities have been closed for in-person learning
- People are encouraged to work from home if possible
- Indoor dining has been banned in restaurants and bars
- All organized non-professional sport has been banned
- Theaters, cinemas, stadiums and arenas are closed
- Bowling alleys, ice rinks and indoor water parks are closed
- Bingo halls, casinos and arcades are closed
- Group fitness classes are prohibited
She said CNN Sunday: “We know the White House likes to distinguish us here in Michigan, me in particular.
“I am not going to be intimidated not to follow reputable scientists and medical professionals.”
Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel also criticized Dr Atlas’ comments, calling them “disappointing, irresponsible and the reason the United States finds itself in such desperate circumstances regarding COVID-19.”
She wrote: “I look forward to a new federal administration that works in cooperation with our state government to protect the residents of Michigan.
“A patriot is one who protects America from its enemies, both foreign and domestic.
“COVID-19 is the enemy, not the other.
“Stop pitting Americans against each other and start supporting policies proven to effectively fight the virus.”
When announcing the new restrictions on Sunday, Whitmer said, “We are in the worst time of this pandemic to date.
“The situation has never been so dire. We are on the precipice and we must take action.
“This is the worst public health emergency our country has faced in over a century. And our response must reflect the same level of urgency.
“Our response is the strongest if we are united and all together. We cannot control the fact that we are already seeing an increase in cases, but what we can control is whether or not we are joining forces to combat our common enemy, COVID-19.
“We have some control here. Our collective action can control the severity and duration of this wave.
Whitmer, a Democrat, warned that without action, the state could lose 1,000 residents per week to the pandemic, nearly three times the number of reported deaths from COVID-19 in the week ended Friday.
Whitmer said the state Department of Health and Human Services order also halted nearly all organized sports except professional sports and some varsity sports during the three-week period.
The state’s health department said the order could help “save thousands of lives.”
The governor also urged Michigan residents not to hold Thanksgiving gatherings next week with extended family
The new state action is not a blanket stay-at-home order and does not close retail stores, hair salons, public transportation, manufacturing, or in-person school for young children.
Hospitals, universities, colleges, community colleges and K-12 school boards supported the move.
The Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest school employee union, said in-person learning should be suspended for all classes.
“These are scary and stressful times for everyone in public education – from employees to parents to students,” said MEA President Paula Herbart.
The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association has estimated that more than 40% of restaurants in the state would close, at least temporarily, if dining rooms were closed.
About 250,000 state restaurant workers would likely be made redundant during the holiday season, he said.
The group said it was “deeply disappointed” with the decision to close restaurants in Michigan for a second time.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said in a statement that Republicans were “disappointed that Governor Whitmer has chosen to go it alone, yet again.”
Last month 14 men, many associated with an anti-government militia, were arrested on charges of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer, attacking the state legislature and threatening law enforcement.
The governor accused Trump of fomenting political extremism, while Trump has repeatedly attacked Whitmer, claiming she “did a terrible job” and calling her ungrateful to his administration.