Governor Whitmer answers your questions from the U.P.

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – With sections of Michigan’s economy set to reopen this week, many others are still at home, following Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home Stay Safe order until the end of May. On Monday we asked which questions you still had for the Governor. Dozens of you responded. We had just a few minutes to ask as many questions as possible. We’ve included all the responses we were able to get.

Ryan asked, if it is evident restrictions need to be extended months, rather than weeks, what is the plan to allow basic services like dental, vision, and routine doctor visits?

“My husband is a dentist and he’s been asking me the question every day. He’s gone in for emergency procedures for his patients. We know that the nature of these services and professions is that they are performed on the body, and it is really important that we get the right protocol. We are working on dentistry with the University of Michigan and the Michigan Dental Association to promulgate what those protocols look like. With regard your eye doctor, in the health industry, they are used to wearing PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), we just need to make sure we have protocols to keep people safe. For instance, the next time you go to your dentist, you probably won’t be waiting in the waiting room. You might be in your car until the text message that says your appointment is up and they are ready for you. We’re just going to have to build some things in. This is going to be kind of a new way of life. We’re all going to have to adapt to it. I think the changes we’ll have to make will keep us safe,” said Whitmer.

Sarah, along with numerous others asked about Michigan campgrounds which typically open in May, but the Department of Natural Resources announced will not open until June.

“You’re in Marquette, which is one of the most beautiful places in the state. If I lived in the Upper Peninsula, I would love it because I’d feel free to walk all over the place without having to worry about being around crowds of people. As we think about our state campgrounds and our state parks, we’ve seen people congregating. Whether it was Bell Isle in Detroit or in Grand Haven on the west side of the Lower Peninsula. We’ve got to make sure that as we engage and enjoy the beauty that is Michigan in the best time of the year for being outside that we are really smart about it. So I’m working with the DNR to figure out how do we keep people safe as we consider reopening campgrounds. I know that the determination has been made that they won’t open until the beginning of June. That’s right for now, but we may have more data that tells us we have to extend that, or maybe we can proceed and get some of those communal bathing places not open so we can keep people safe in that way. I can’t tell you specifically what that’s going to look like, but I understand how important that is and it’s something we’re focusing on,” responded Governor Whitmer.

Heidi asks who locally Governor Whitmer has been in contact with to figure out re-engagement. She says those conversations have included university presidents, chambers of commerce, and leaders of various industries to make sure protocols are right for individual industries.

“I’ve been in talks with the leaders of our universities. We recognize that there are regional strengths and regional challenges as we determine where it is safe to re-engage. Obviously the U.P. with a lower number of COVID cases gives us confidence that we can probably re-engage some additional things perhaps at a quicker pace than other parts of the state. The one challenge though I would say is that ten COVID patients is very different than ten COVID patients in the Upper Peninsula where we’ve got different resources available through hospital systems. You’ve got some fantastic hospital systems in the U.P. but ten ICU beds with COVID-19 patients could quickly take over a hospital in the Upper Peninsula and that’s why we really have got to have the build out of our testing. So that if a COVID case pops up that we are able to test as many people who need to be tested and trace who all had contact so we can isolate it and keep it from growing and spreading throughout the community,” said Whitmer.

Many of you asked about the number and proximity of testing sites in the U.P.

“What we really should be doing as a state is testing one to two percent of our population a week. That’s 100 to 200 thousand people a week. We’re not there yet. In our quest to get there, we’ve been opening up more testing sites across the state. We’ve been working with CVS and Rite Aid and Walgreens. We are continuing to get more of the supplies we need so we can execute on all of those tests. We’re getting more swabs. We need more reagents. Those are some of the chemicals we need to perform the tests. Each of these are components to ramping up testing. Obviously with such vast distances to travel in the U.P. we need to have more testing sites. It’s something we’re working towards, but there is more work to do,” Whitmer responded.

When asked how the Upper Peninsula is being considered as Governor Whitmer makes decisions for the state, she started with a simple statement.

“The thing I would say is thank you for doing your part. The greatest thing about the U.P. is the people that call it home. I love the Upper Peninsula. It’s been good to see that you’ve kept the spread from creeping into every community.”

Governor Whitmer concluded saying she can’t wait to get back to the U.P. her goal is to make a visit by the end of Summer.

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