DETROIT (FOX 2) - Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is wrapping up her third year in office and facing a very tough election year in 2022. On Wednesday, she gave us a few minutes to discuss the issues that have been at the forefront of the minds of all Michiganders.
From COVID-19 to the Oxford School shooting, Whitmer talks about every major issue Michigan residents are concerned about - and then some.
Whitmer on Oxford
"They need the space to grieve and I’m glad you asked the question because I know they are being inundated by not necessarily local media but by the national press. And I just want to take a minute to encourage people to give these families love and support but also the opportunity to do what they need to take care of and themselves, and none of us can imagine how difficult this is," Whitmer said.
The governor cautions against a single action to solve the problem. Instead, Michigan needs to focus on the people of Oxford and the children.
"I think one of the things that so many are quick to do just go right after their political corners and put out a statement about where we’re going to fix the problem with one issue. That’s the problem, that’s not going to happen. What we have to do - what we owe to the people of Oxford enter the kids in our schools and families across our state - is to have an honest conversation about what we can do. So I have not pre-judged. I have signaled that I am here to have that conversation with legislature, I can tell you there’s not one loss that we’re going to change that will fix the problem," she said.
Whitmer said it's important to ensure that schools are safe and secure and needs help from the legislature to move forward in this regard. She reiterated that one single action won't fix or stop anything but teamwork is necessary and is only just beginning.
"I would say, you know we’ve had initial (conversations), but not in a meaningful substantive way yet. We are three weeks out, everyone is raw, and saddened, and, grieving. I think that's a conversation that should be had, and I think in the coming days will be the time for that to happen," she said.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer discusses 2021's major issues during a one-on-one with FOX 2 on Wednesday, Dec. 15.
Whitmer says Covid actions now are different
In the past few weeks, Michigan has once again become a hotspot for COVID-19 cases, yet the governor has not issued new regulations or orders. So what's changed? She said things are a bit different now.
"I think in the beginning, this was a state of emergency, we didn’t know the enemy, we didn't know how to stay safe, we didn’t have vaccines, we were running out of PPE for our doctors and our nurses, virus was running rampant. We had to use blunt tools to keep people safe, studies have shown we saved thousands of lives in the state because of the work we did, I’m proud of that work," Whitmer said.
She said her actions now have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with following the science.
"I made hard decisions, I knew that my decisions could put me in jeopardy, politically, I knew my decisions might put me in jeopardy, physically, and personally, certainly there have been a lot of threats on my wife. The fact of the matter is, we follow the science, at this point I’ll come already very different place but anyone and anyone who wants to get a vaccine can get one. You can throw on a mask anywhere you go, and be smart. And I encourage people to do that," Whitmer said.
As for schools, the governor says it's important to let each district decide what is best for themselves.
"Now that we are trying to keep our kids in school, it's important to let the community be a part of that conversation. We have a lot of information about this virus that we did not have a year ago. Enforcement has to happen at the local level," Whtimer said.
She also said she doesn't expect any new changes in her approach to Covid at this time.
"I don’t foresee that. The only caveat would be is because there are so many people who are unvaccinated as the virus mutates again in a way that gets past the vaccine safety," she said.
You can watch the entire 15-minute long interview in the player below.