Governor Gretchen Whitmer's administration has faced heat in recent days after it was revealed that high-level staffers flouted the health department's recommendations by traveling out of state amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday Whitmer's office admitted that she had also traveled.
A spokesperson tells Metro Times that Whitmer had traveled out of state in recent months to visit her sick father in Florida.
"The governor did not go on spring break, and she has not left the state in over a month," the spokesperson said in an email. "In the past six months she has left the state three times, once for the inauguration, once to assist her elderly father who is battling a chronic illness, and once to visit with Michigan's National Guard troops. All trips were very brief, two full days or less, closely followed public health guidelines, and were made when Michigan's daily positivity rate was in the low single digits. Due to ongoing security concerns, we will not comment further on the governor's personal schedule."
On April 3, Whitmer urged Michiganders to avoid spring break trips to Florida. On April 5, the state's health department issued a statement recommending people not travel unless they have been fully vaccinated.
"Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. We recommend that you do not travel at this time," reads the advisory. "Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Do NOT travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, you are sick or you test positive for COVID-19."
Whitmer received her first vaccination dose on April 6.
It was later revealed that department's own director, Elizabeth Hertel, traveled to Alabama for a vacation the same week the health department advisory was issued. Whitmer's chief operating officer, Trish Foster, had also traveled to Florida in early April, posting the photos to her Facebook page. The story was picked up by right-wing website Breitbart.
At a recent press conference, Whitmer brushed off the stories as "partisan hit jobs on my team."
The Republican Governors Association seized on the recent news.
"Gretchen Whitmer’s hypocrisy flies in the face of every Michigander who has persevered through Whitmer’s disgraceful response to COVID-19," RGA Spokesperson Chris Gustafson said in a statement. "While telling Michiganders not to travel, Whitmer flew down to Florida and proved once again that the rules to her or her family don’t apply. It's time for Gretchen Whitmer to go."
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