Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has defended a trip she made to Florida last month despite travel restrictions saying she was visiting her unwell father.
‘It is saddening,’ Whitmer told The Washington Post. ‘It is a two-day trip. I wasn’t partying in Miami.’
The 49-year-old said the trip was to ‘check-in’ on her father who is suffering from chronic illness: ‘It was certainly not spring break.’
It came weeks after the governor warned the public about spring break trips, particularly to Florida, amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
Two of her top aides, including Michigan’s health director, vacationed in southern states despite the state recommendation to avoid travel.
The Michigan Republican Party seized on Whitmer’s trip, which occurred before she was vaccinated, after it emerged this week, accusing the Democratic governor of hypocrisy.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has responded to attacks after she flew to Florida last month amid the pandemic, saying that she was visiting her unwell father
Two of her top aides, including Michigan’s health director, vacationed in southern states despite a state recommendation to avoid travel. Tricia Foster (pictured), the governor’s chief operating officer, posted photos of herself holidaying in Siesta Kay earlier this month.
Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, said he didn’t have a problem with the governor visiting her father, but noted that she seemed to contradict her own travel advisories.
He said: ‘If you or I did those same exact actions, this governor would scold you and say that you are the problem.
‘The issue here today is the gross hypocrisy that comes from this administration.’
Spokesman Ted Goodman called it an ‘insult to every single Michigander impacted by her lockdown orders and travel warnings.’
‘Not only did Whitmer and her top staffers vacation to Florida, but they tried to keep it secret because for Whitmer, it’s: ‘rules for thee, but not for me,’ Goodman said.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Thomas Albert, a Lowell Republican, said he understands the desire to visit an ill relative.
‘But I have heard countless stories of heartbroken Michiganders who wanted to visit sick family members during this pandemic and haven’t been able to do so,’ he said.
‘I don’t understand how the governor thinks it’s OK for her and members of her administration to travel out of state, while issuing recommendations to the rest of us that we stay home.’
Tricia Foster, the governor’s chief operating officer, posted photos of herself holidaying in Siesta Kay earlier this month.
Whitmer’s spokesman called the story at the time ‘a partisan attack from a garbage white nationalist site.’
He said that Foster was ‘fully recovered from COVID and fully vaccinated.’
The governor’s newly-appointed health chief travelled to Alabama in April, shortly after Whitmer discouraged travel.
Elizabeth Hertel stayed at Gulf Shores, a popular resort on the Gulf of Mexico.
The state says it is safest to avoid out-of-state travel. But if it is unavoidable, residents should get fully vaccinated and, if they cannot, be tested three to five days after returning and self-quarantine for seven days even if the test is negative.
The governor’s newly-appointed health chief travelled to Alabama in April, shortly after Whitmer discouraged travel. Elizabeth Hertel (pictured) stayed at Gulf Shores, a popular resort on the Gulf of Mexico.
Whitmer’s spokesman Bobby Leddy earlier said that it was Whitmer’s third trip out of state in the past six months.
She went to President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January and visited National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., in March.
‘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,’ he said.
Whitmer, who got her first vaccine shot April 6, was not vaccinated when she visited her father but is regularly tested for COVID-19.
Her father, 81-year-old Richard Whitmer – a retired president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan – was fully vaccinated.
Whitmer said early in the pandemic that her father was a snowbird in Florida with ‘compromised lung function, and I’m worried about him.’
On Sunday Whitmer told NBC’s Meet the Press that cases in her state could be beginning to slow down. Health officials said Friday that the seven-day average positivity rate had dropped in recent days to 17.1%, but remained above a December peak of 14.4%.