Story at a glance

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is coming under pressure to revert to strict lockdowns and social distancing policies she enforced at the beginning of the pandemic.
  • But right now, a full-scale lockdown is not in the plan.
  • Whitmer’s reluctance to impose full-scale lockdown measures is due to a combination of factors, including pandemic fatigue, economic incentives and political pressure, said Michigan political analyst Bill Ballenger.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is coming under pressure to revert to strict lockdowns and social distancing policies she enforced at the beginning of the pandemic as cases continue to surge throughout the state. 

Whitmer asked Michigan residents Wednesday for help, requesting that schools switch to virtual classes and that people avoid crowded bars and restaurants. But right now, a full-scale lockdown is not in the plan, a local CBS affiliate reported Thursday

Michigan political analyst Bill Ballenger told The Guardian he believes Whitmer’s reluctance to impose strict lockdown measures is due to a combination of factors, including pandemic fatigue, economic incentives and political pressure. But the pressure to remain open, Ballenger noted, is not exclusively coming from conservatives

“I really do think the constant pressure over the last year is catching up, not just from the right and conservatives, but there are a growing number of people in the population, including independents and business persons who are Democrats, who are really angry at Whitmer,” Ballenger said.


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Ballenger explained to The Guardian that this time the crisis is different for Whitmer. He said when the pandemic first came to the state, Whitmer didn’t take big hits primarily because she wasn’t former President Trump.  

“She was able to sustain a lot of the popularity simply because she was not Donald Trump and Trump wasn’t popular in Michigan,” Ballenger said. “She said, ‘I’m the anti-Trump and Trump is doing a lousy job of handling pandemic,’ and that worked.”

Whitmer said in a CBS appearance last week her state’s vaccination campaign is robust but that she would request more vaccinations from the Biden administration. Yet the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, said vaccinations are not the key to getting out of the dire mess. 

Former state health director, Robert Gordon, resigned in March, The Guardian reported. 

Data shows that there have been more than 55,000 reported cases in the state in the last seven days, and Whitmer said in a press conference Thursday that the state's positivity rate is approaching 18 percent. 

“Two dozen hospitals are at 90% capacity or higher,” Whitmer added. 

Abdul El-Sayed, the former director of the Detroit health department, is a strong advocate of lockdowns. El-Sayed told The Guardian that the death toll has mounted as cases and hospitalizations have spiked and added that lockdown measures like the ones Whitmer imposed last spring could “have a profound impact over the next couple weeks.”

“Governor Whitmer showed a tremendous level of leadership last spring and fall, and that came with a lot of political blowback from conservatives, but she did the right thing – evidence shows that she saved lives, and we need that leadership now,” El-Sayed said.

El-Sayed added at the state’s current vaccination rate, it could take up to 57 days to reach full herd immunity. Johns Hopkins data shows that 22 percent of Michigan residents have been fully vaccinated. 


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Published on Apr 16, 2021