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Whitmer Says She Won’t Be ‘Bullied’ into Reopening Michigan Too Soon, Could Reimpose Restrictions

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media, May 20, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday that she could reimpose social-distancing restrictions if cases of the coronavirus continue to rise in the state, adding that she refuses to be “bullied” into reopening before it is safe to do so.

“I want to re-engage this economy more than anyone, but I’m not going to do it if it is too risky to do so, and that’s why we’re staying focused on the epidemiology,” Whitmer said in a CNN interview.

“If they keep moving up, we’re going to dial back if we have to,” Whitmer continued. “I’m not going to be bullied into moving back before it’s safe, and if we have to move back, we’re going to.”

The Democratic governor noted that she was heavily criticized when she imposed stringent lockdown restrictions on Michigan residents in early March when the state discovered its first coronavirus case but said she remains prepared to take the steps necessary to ensure safety. Cases of the virus peaked in Michigan in April.

“I took a lot of heat when we brought that curve down, we saved thousands of lives. I’m prepared to take heat if that’s what is going to take to keep people safe,” Whitmer said.

On Sunday, Michigan reported no new coronavirus deaths for the first time since March, although three deaths were reported on Monday, just one day later.

Whitmer added that she had hoped to move the southern part of the state into Phase Four of the state’s six-phase reopening plan but had to put those plans on pause just before the Fourth of July because cases of the virus increased.

Several states that reopened their economies more aggressively have seen their coronavirus cases spike in recent weeks, including Texas and Florida.

Whitmer’s strict coronavirus lockdown polices riled some residents, prompting several demonstrations at the state capitol by residents protesting the restrictions. The governor’s social-distancing rules previously prohibited residents from visiting their second residences and banned the sale of paint, furniture, and garden equipment.

In May, dozens of protesters, some of them armed, went to the Michigan Capitol and stood in the Senate gallery, which is open to the public. Michigan State Police troopers blocked the demonstrators clamoring to enter the House chamber.

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