Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urges Washington lawmakers to reach COVID-19 stimulus deal to help residents, businesses

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used her Tuesday press conference to call on lawmakers in Washington to find an agreement to help residents and businesses as the COVID-19 crisis drags on. 

The governor called the 2 p.m. press conference and was joined by MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, as usual. 

Whitmer started her press conference by acknowledging that many people have missed funerals, weddings, graduations, births, birthday parties, and more over the past four months. 

"Celebrating is in our blood - it’s what makes life, life. Whether it’s over a beer or at a sandbar on a lake or at a church on Sunday, that’s how we define our moments in life," she said.

Whitmer said the vast majority of Michigan residents have followed protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19. The most proven way to stop the spread is to wear a mask. Doing so can reduce the spread of the virus by 70%. Because of this, she's asking again for a national mandate on masks.

However, she says that's just the beginning.

"We need a strong recovery plan from the federal government to help small businesses, owners, first responders, state government, and local government so we can all recover from this," she said.

Whitmer said the GOP COVID-19 stimulus proposal announced on Monday falls short of what is needed. She said it reduces pandemic benefits that have been a lifeline, doesn't support businesses, and is a more complicated system that would require more work.

Additionally, she said the plan ties funds to schools fully reopening, which she says is not time yet.

“We’ve got to continue to follow the science and we can’t move unless it’s safe to do that," Whitmer said.

She said the HEROES package passed by House was more needed.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief bill in May, giving lawmakers a short time to bridge the partisan gulf between the different aid packages before the House starts its scheduled recess on Aug. 3 (the Senate is expected to follow one week later). McConnell said Friday he expects Congress to pass something by "the end of the next few weeks."

She called on Democrats and Republicans to come to an agreement soon and get it to Pres. Trump for his signature to help residents and businesses alike.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, Michigan cases have spent the past month trending in the wrong direction. While still far from the peak of cases in April, when the state reported 1,953 cases, Michigan's new cases announced each day have spiked from the bottom of 74 on June 15 to 669 on Tuesday.

In those six weeks, Michigan's highest number in a single day was July 15 when 891 cases were confirmed. This past Sunday, Michigan said there were more than 1,000 cases but that was due to a backlog in data. 

While cases have spiked since mid-June, new deaths announced each day have stayed under 30 each day. By comparison, in April, deaths were over 100 six straight days with a peak of 206 on April 10. Between March 30 and May 2, Michigan didn't have fewer than 40 deaths per day once.

With the fall school year looming, many districts have released plans to resume classes. Most are utilizing a combination of virtual and in-person classes while in Detroit, protesters have demanded the district end summer schools. Last week, a judge ordered that the lessons can continue, but not without testing.

Friday, the first two positive tests of Detroit summer school students were reported. There are 630 students who attend and on Monday, classes resumed in Detroit after every student had been tested.

How the state and nation will resume 'normal' activities - and when - is still very much up in the air. This weekend marked the opening weekend of Major League Baseball's shortened season.

The Tigers played in Cincinnati but at least two Reds' players were mysteriously sick on Sunday. They return home for the first time this year, playing the Royals in Detroit.

Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins have had 14 players and coaches test positive, forcing MLB to postpone games in Miami and in Philadelphia, where the Marlins opened their season.