Governor concerned about COVID-19 spreading to rural communities after protests

Local News

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a press conference on the state’s response to coronavirus on May 7, 2020, while Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, looks on. (Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Another protest is expected to happen at the state Capitol on Thursday. More than 500 people have RSVP’d according to the Michigan United for Liberty website, which is hosting the event.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she is concerned about COVID-19 spreading to rural communities after people attend these protests.

“I’m worried about people’s safety so, from being there, but also the communities to which they’re returning and our ability to keep moving that re-engagement dial,” Whitmer said during a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence over the phone.

She said she would be grateful if Pence would consider discouraging protests like these from happening.

Governor Whitmer said, “I’m worried about some of the heat that continues to rise with these protests.”

In Wisconsin, 72 people tested positive for the coronavirus after a rally at the state’s Capitol attracted about 1,500 people.

Those testing positive said they had attended a large gathering, but the state’s health department can’t confirm if they actually went to the event organized by people who oppose Wisconsin’s stay home order.

Back here in Michigan, state police said they plan to have an increased presence at Thursday’s protest after people expressed safety concerns.

Lt. Brian Olenksyk said, “If you’re brandishing your firearm, waving it around, using it in a threatening manner, pointing it a somebody, harassing people, ethnic intimidation, we will take enforcement on that. But that’s not our goal, we want people to come there, be safe, and create a safe environment for them.”

In a statement released by Michigan United for Liberty, the organizer of Thursday’s rally said their purpose is to convey to lawmakers, state officials, and the public that the people of Michigan will passionately defend their freedom and prosperity.

They ask that every participant be an effective representative of that message, through lawful and peaceful demonstration.

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