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Gretchen Whitmer, Trump’s COVID Nemesis, Won’t Lockdown as Hospitals Brace for Surge

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who repeatedly sparred with former President Donald Trump over COVID-19 restrictions, has no intention of mandating a new lockdown despite the state’s current sharp increase in COVID-19.

Michigan hospitals are treating 3,549 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Medical workers are bracing for impact as the state experiences its biggest week-to-week spike in hospitalizations since last spring, with the possibility of hitting a new record next Monday. There were also over 8,000 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Michigan on Wednesday, the most of any state.

Although Whitmer, a Democrat, was a prominent advocate for imposing strict public health measures during the initial wave of the pandemic and often locked horns with Trump over the issue, Michigan’s status as the epicenter of the current U.S. wave has not convinced her that new restrictions are needed this year.

“The problem is fatigue, mobility and variance and we’ve got all of those things working against us in Michigan right now,” Whitmer said during a press conference on Tuesday. “This is not a policy problem, taking steps back isn’t going to fix the issue.”

On Wednesday, Whitmer indicated that she was monitoring hospitalizations but suggested that the current numbers do not warrant tighter restrictions because they do not yet match what was seen last year. COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked in Michigan at 4,365 in April 2020, with a high of 3,941 hospitalizations seen on December 1 during last year’s late surge.

“You know, we’re talking to our hospitals every single day just to check in, see what the rates are, see if they’re getting concerned,” Whitmer said when asked about the possibility of new restrictions, according to MLive.Com. “At this juncture … we do have hospitalizations that have gone up but they’re nothing like what we saw last spring, when we were so worried about our health system collapsing… They’re not even what we saw in the fall.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer receives her first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Detroit, Michigan on April 6, 2021.
Matthew Hatcher/Getty

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services presented a model from Michigan Medicine that predicts a new peak of 4,522 hospitalizations next week during a virtual media call on Wednesday. Hospitalizations in intensive care units are also expected to surge but are unlikely to come close to meeting last year’s record.

Whitmer and Trump frequently quarreled over COVID-19 restrictions last year, with public disputes beginning during the first months of the pandemic and continuing until near the end of Trump’s presidency. The former president heavily criticized Whitmer for her mask mandate and shutting down businesses in an attempt to control the virus.

Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” to followers in May, days before an armed mob stormed the state Capitol. During an October campaign rally, Trump urged Whitmer to “open up” the state amid the fall surge, while supporters chanted “lock her up.”

The Liberty Buzz reached out to Whitmer’s office for comment.

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