LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made a number of remarks today on President Donald Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and said, "The biggest threat to the American people is the American president right now."
Whitmer made the comments at the end of a news conference on the state's response to COVID-19. She announced the state is rolling out of the $24M Futures for Frontliners program for free college tuition.
Before taking questions, Whitmer said some six months into COVID-19, there is still no "national strategy" around masking, PPE or testing, saying almost 200,000 people have died and millions are out of work.
Whitmer called the recent reporting by journalist Bob Woodward on Trump's initial knowledge of COVID-19 "depressing." She said that in February, Trump knew that COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu and can pass through the air, and he wanted to play down the virus, according to Woodward and his upcoming book "Rage."
"I'm the leader of the country. I can't be jumping up and down and scaring people," said Trump, in response to the book in an interview yesterday with FOX News. "I don't want to scare people. I want people not to panic and that's exactly what I did."
Trump said Woodward "does hit jobs with everybody. He even did it on Obama ... constant hit jobs."
Whitmer said if the country had acted on COVID-19 one week sooner, 36,000 lives could've been saved, and 54,000 lives could've been saved two weeks sooner.
She said the "failure to act" has cost so many lives and sent the economy into a tailspin.
"It is just devastating to hear that when we work so hard to save lives," Whitmer said.
Trump also told FOX News yesterday, "Nobody wanted me to do the ban on China, and as you know, shortly thereafter, I (instituted) a ban on (travel from) Europe and that was even more controversial, and it was good, because I saw what was going on in Italy and in Spain and in France, and we did a ban there. And if we didn't do those bans, we would have had numbers that were much, much (worse)."
Whitmer went to to say, "This administration has been reckless and not particularly well informed."
She called the Trump administration "deceptive."
"They knew, and they didn’t tell us," she said.
Whitmer said there hasn't been "accurate and consistent" medical information on the virus from the Trump administration.
"The biggest enemy of the state right now is the misinformation that is coming from the head of state," she said.
She thanked Michiganders for doing their part to keep themselves and their families safe.
Whitmer added that Michigan won't always be in a state of emergency.
"It is a matter of months, and I believe that is the case."