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Whitmer won’t rule out renewed COVID-19 restrictions

File photo. State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday resubmitted 17 appointments to state boards and commissions that were rejected earlier by the state Senate.

The Democratic governor did that to send a message to Republicans in the Legislature that she won’t back down from challenges to her ability to manage the state’s COVID-19 crisis.

“You know, infusing politics into a public health crisis has further polarized a nation that was already polarized,” she said during the Michigan Chronicle’s annual Pancakes and Politics event, carried this year online. “These last four years have taken a toll, and these last 12 months, in particular, have.”

Most restrictions are lifted now, but Whitmer said the COVID response is still too embroiled in politics, and she can’t promise restrictions won’t be reinstated if Michigan’s COVID numbers continue to get worse.

“Perhaps that’s a tool that we might need to use,” she said. “But I’m hoping that it’s not and that’s why we’re reiterating everyone has a personal responsibility to do what we need to do to keep ourselves safe and our community and our families safe as well.”

Whitmer said people should still wear masks in public and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. Cases and hospitalizations have been rising rapidly over the past few weeks.

Michigan’s case rate is back to where it was in January in a post-holiday spike. More than 5,000 new cases were confirmed Thursday.

Whitmer also vowed to veto GOP-sponsored bills that would increase voter restrictions.

“I have a veto pen,” she said, “and I’m ready to use that for any bill that’s looking to make it harder for people in our state to vote.”

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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