LANSING, Mich. —
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that Michigan’s stay-at-home order remains in effect despite Republicans’ refusal to extend her underlying coronavirus emergency declaration, as she amended it to allow construction, real estate and outdoor work to resume next week.
The Democratic governor, who may be sued by the GOP-led Legislature, addressed reporters hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that she should “make a deal” with conservatives who protested her restrictions at the Capitol a day earlier. She denounced the protest as ”disturbing,” noting there were swastikas, Confederate flags, nooses and some people with assault weapons who “do not represent who we are as Michiganders.”
“We’re in the midst of a global pandemic that has already killed almost 4,000 people in our state,” Whitmer said. “The fact of the matter is you have to listen not to pollsters and to people with political agendas, but listen to epidemiologists and public health care experts.”
The state reported nearly 1,000 new COVID-19 cases and 77 additional deaths, bringing the total to 3,866 dead and more than 42,000 cases.
Whitmer late Thursday issued directives both proclaiming that the COVID-19 emergency continues and declaring new states of emergency and disaster after the Legislature refused her request for a 28-day extension. The declarations are the foundation of her stay-home order and other measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Republican lawmakers, who want more input on gradually restarting the economy, also voted to authorize a lawsuit challenging her authority and actions. Whitmer last week let some businesses reopen, subject to social distancing and other precautions.
She said the Legislature’s actions Thursday, including passing a bill she will veto, were “incredibly reckless” and “lured all these people to Lansing and got people riled up.”
On Friday, she allowed in-person work that is traditionally and primarily done outdoors — forestry workers, power equipment technicians, parking enforcers — to resume next Thursday. Construction workers, real estate agents, appraisers, brokers, inspectors and surveyors also can work in person, as can manufacturing workers who make cubicles and other “workplace modification” items to help stop infections.
Trump earlier encouraged Whitmer to “make a deal” with protesters calling her to reopen the state, attempting to strike a balance between supporting demonstrators who expressed affinity for him and minding the advice of his scientific experts.
“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” Trump said. “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”
White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway said Trump was offering Whitmer assistance in opening the state.
“Here he’s weighed in and said to the governor, ’Hey I think it’s time, it’s May 1, to take a look at maybe reopening pieces of the Michigan economy and we’re here to help you do that,” she told reporters at the White House.
Some protesters — many without face coverings — entered the Capitol on Thursday and demanded to be let onto the House floor, which is not allowed. The gallery was closed to the public to allow room for representatives and reporters to spread apart. Some demonstrators in the Senate gallery were openly carrying guns, which is legal in the Statehouse. One senator said some armed men shouted at her, and some senators wore bulletproof vests.
Trump has tried to previously pressure the first-term governor, who leads a battleground state and is on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate list.
Whitmer said Thursday that defeating COVID-19 is an “all hands on deck moment,” and she was hopeful Republican legislators “will stop the partisan games and start working with me to re-engage our economy safely and responsibly.”
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.