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Whitmer on Attending Protest: ‘Important to Show up, to Show Solidarity’ – I Wore Mask and Didn’t Hug, High-Five, or Shake Hands

Whitmer on Attending Protest: ‘Important to Show up, to Show Solidarity’ – I Wore Mask and Didn’t Hug, High-Five, or Shake Hands
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On Monday’s “MSNBC Live,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) stated that her state is reopening “incrementally” with the hope “that people know that we still have to live with the coronavirus, that we need to wear our masks. We cannot just drop our guard.” She also defended her attendance at a recent protest by stating that she wore a mask and didn’t hug, high-five, or shake hands with anyone, and “our right to demonstrate, this First Amendment right is something that, in this moment, I thought it was important to show up, to show solidarity with so many who are protesting police brutality in our country.”

Whitmer began by discussing the state taking further steps to reopen by stating that “coronavirus is still very present across the country. And that’s why, as we start to re-engage, and we’re doing an incremental engagement, always informed by some of the best public health experts in our country, we’re going to do this incrementally. But our hope is that people know that we still have to live with the coronavirus, that we need to wear our masks. We cannot just drop our guard. We need to learn the lessons from 1918, what happened in our country and what has happened in other countries around the world who have dealt with coronavirus before we did. If we drop all of the social distancing and all of the important hygiene measures we’ve learned about in these last three months, we could set ourselves up for another spike.”

Host Stephanie Ruhle then asked, “Then how do you respond to the criticism you received that you yourself didn’t practice social distancing while you participated in a peaceful protest, and did wear a mask?”

Whitmer responded, “I wore a mask the whole time. I did not greet people the way that I usually do with hugs or handshakes or high-fives. I recognize that that is how COVID-19 spreads. But our right to demonstrate, this First Amendment right is something that, in this moment, I thought it was important to show up, to show solidarity with so many who are protesting police brutality in our country. We need to take steps and we need to show unity. And where that is lacking on the national front, it is incumbent on governors to take this seriously and to set the example. So, as people protest, I’ve asked them to keep wearing the mask, to try to socially distance, but it’s not always going to be something that you can do, especially in a march like this. But refrain from the handshakes and the high-fives and the hugs that we know bring us in close proximity. And when you’re speaking, keep that mask on. It is the throwing of your voice, the projecting that actually creates the place where COVID-19 is spreading. And that’s why it’s so important that, as leaders take on these opportunities to show the leadership that’s so lacking across the country and from the national front, that we demonstrate the kind of activity that we’re asking everyone else to continue portraying.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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