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Health Care

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Violates Her Own Pandemic Restriction

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks by video feed from Michigan on the first day of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention as participants from across the country are hosted over video links to the originally planned site of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisc., August 17, 2020. (2020 Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters)

Two shocking news developments up in Michigan! The first is that “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an apology Sunday after a photo emerged showing her at a restaurant with 12 other people gathered around tables pushed together in violation of her health department’s current epidemic order.”

The second piece of shocking news is that Michigan still has epidemic orders barring vaccinated people from gathering around tables in restaurants. The current state limit is six. Clearly, the governor doesn’t perceive much of a threat from vaccinated people gathering indoors in close proximity in groups larger than six.

After a terrible spike in cases in late March and early April, Michigan enjoyed its own steep decline in cases in the past few weeks. The seven-day average for daily new cases is down to 1,258, after being above 7,600 in mid-April. The state’s active cases have dropped to 175,089, after nearly reaching 300,000 in late April. Thankfully, the state never saw a dramatic spike in COVID-19 deaths; the seven-day average for daily new deaths is down to 50; in early May it hit a peak of 72.

The Detroit News notes:

Whitmer has faced a wave of criticism in recent weeks after taking a private flight to visit her father, Richard, in Florida, in March. A nonprofit organization tied to Whitmer’s administration paid $27,521 to charter the flight that carried her to visit her dad but Whitmer paid $855 for a seat.

Whitmer breaking her own coronavirus order comes after California governor Gavin Newsom’s dinner at The French Laundry, and the mayor of San Francisco dining in the very same restaurant the following nightand the Los Angeles County supervisor dining in a restaurant after voting to ban outdoor dining as well as indoor dining, and the mayor of Denver flying off to see family after telling residents to avoid unnecessary traveland Nancy Pelosi visiting a hair salon in violation of local restrictionsand the mayor of San Jose breaking his own restrictions by attending a big Thanksgiving dinner with multiple households present, and the mayor of Washington, D.C., attending a Biden victory party in Delaware after barring all nonessential interstate travel, and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy breaking his own order barring large gatherings

Perhaps one of the lessons that public health experts and future government leaders should take from this experience is that quarantine restrictions should only be enacted and enforced if those making the decisions on quarantine restrictions are willing to live under them as well. Because the American experience from 2020 and 2021 is that many, many elected officials believed that those restrictions were only for the little people.


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