Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer likened those protesting the state’s social distancing restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus to Americans who protested the World War II production effort in the 1940s.
“President Trump called this a war, and it is exactly that. So let’s act like it. In World War II, there weren’t people lining up at the Capitol to protest the fact that they had to drop everything they were doing and build planes or tanks or to ration food,” Whitmer said during an address Monday evening.
“They rolled up their sleeves, and they got to work,” the governor continued. “We were all in this together, and it wasn’t indefinite. It was until we’d beaten the enemy. No state shined more in those days than the state of Michigan. We are called to act again. It is our time to shine, to put aside our political differences, to come together and defeat our common enemy.”
The American war production effort during the second World War put many Americans back to work as factories were re-purposed to produce necessary goods for the war. The unemployment rate, which was lagging at 25 percent after the Great Depression, quickly shrank to about 10 percent during the war. After the war, economic growth rose as the civilian labor force expanded, and by 1948, the unemployment rate was 4 percent or lower.
Whitmer has imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country, ordering residents to remain at home except for necessary errands such as grocery shopping and essential work, and restricting activities such as lawn mowing services and sales of paint, furniture, and garden equipment. Residents are not permitted to visit between residences, even their own second residences.
The state’s stringent social distancing rules have provoked backlash from some residents, some of whom protested and caused traffic gridlock outside Michigan’s state Capitol in Lansing last week.
The state health department has documented a declining rate of infections and deaths from the virus, reporting 576 new cases and 77 more deaths on Monday. The previous day, the state reported 633 new cases, the lowest daily tally since March 26th, and 83 deaths. The death rate can be a lagging indicator of the spread of the virus, however, since many of those who succumb to the illness were infected weeks ago. As of Monday, Michigan had a total of 32,000 positive cases, some of whom have recovered, and 2,468 deaths.