Whitmer: We could halt elective surgeries during COVID-19 outbreak

By: - March 17, 2020 8:50 pm

Don Murray, Getty Images

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on MSNBC Tuesday evening that she would consider ordering the cancelation of elective surgeries as another way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

That came in a response to a question from host Rachel Maddow, who mentioned Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, had taken that action “simply as a way to free up hospital capacity for what is expected to be this crusting wave of respiratory illnesses of people who need intensive care.” Maddow asked Whitmer if she was considering a similar order and if it was the state’s role.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, March 12, 2020| Gov. Whitmer office photo

“Yeah, we are considering it,” Whitmer said. “We’ve had a lot of ongoing conversations and Mike is one person, [Illinois Gov.] J.B. Pritzker — I can name a lot of different governors with whom we’re talking regularly. We know that to flatten the curve [on COVID-19], we have to be aggressive. And anyone who doesn’t need to be in a health care facility should probably not be, because we want to mitigate this community spread, and that is another way of doing that.

“And I think that [DeWine has] lot of aggressive things; we have, as well. And I think that’s why work people are looking to the nation’s governors to show the kind of leadership we need.”

Whitmer also was asked again about President Donald Trump, who came at her repeatedly on Tuesday — both on Twitter and in a national press conference on coronavirus — because she’s criticized the slow federal response.

Trump tweeted Tuesday morning: “Failing Michigan Governor must work harder and be much more proactive. We are pushing her to get the job done. I stand with Michigan!” Later at the press conference he said of Whitmer and other Democratic governors, he added: “If they’re not going to play fair, I’m going to do that.”

Maddow noted that “the president took some shots at you and has been attacking you personally.” She asked Whitmer if she feels she’s “able to have a constructive working relationship with the federal government” and if Trump “attacking you in the middle of this affects how well Michigan is able to respond to what’s happening in your state?”

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“Well, you know I can’t get distracted by that,” Whitmer said. “It’s ironic that my point I was making as I was being attacked was that they’re [the feds] not serious. And they’re watching TV and attacking via Twitter; that’s not going to help anything. The only thing that helps us manage a crisis is having clear and swift information, having personal protection equipment, ensuring that we’ve got the test that we need, and the resources that is necessary.

“I have 10 million people in the state of Michigan court counting on me to be able to deliver. And I need a federal government that has our back and is helping us do that.”

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.