Whitmer talks protest, unemployment problems

Posted at 10:55 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 07:41:30-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Speaking with Governor Gretchen Whitmer Thursday, Fox 17 asked her whether Wednesday's rally at the state capitol would put her under more pressure to open up Michigan, now that the state is receiving such national attention.

While she didn't answer that question directly, she told our Derek Francis, "I think that yesterday's event was a political rally, I know that there were some people there that came to protest the stay at home order, but the vast majority of people there were there, making political statements."

"Whether it was open carry people that had AR-15s that they were carrying on their bodies or it was people that were flying the Confederate flag, people that were using swastikas as, as you know hate speech." The governor continued. "It was unfortunate because we know that right now, this is a virus that is incredibly contagious, and none of us knows how our bodies are going to react to it. I could bring it home and not even know it. And while I might just have a fever, it could be deadly for my husband, and that's true for every family."

"The sad irony is that they were protesting the "stay at home" order, and because of their actions, might make it necessary to take this posture even longer if COVID-19 continues to spread, because of this irresponsible action." Whitmer said.

On the same day that Wisconsin extended its "safer at home" order from April 24 to May 26, Governor Whitmer announced a partnership with Governors of five other surrounding states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, telling Fox 17, "We have joined forces Republicans and Democrats alike to make sure that we're sharing information, and that we are really acting thoughtfully."

Whitmer added, "There are certain sectors of our economy that could safely begin to re engage in a couple of weeks. There are others that will take a little bit longer, so we have to be smart and do this in waves."

And lastly, we asked about the on-going problems with the state's Unemployment Agency's website and call center, with frustrated Michiganders struggling to receive their benefits.

"We're going to get to everyone, and everyone who is eligible for benefits will get their benefits, we've written over 645,000 checks, we will get to everyone." Whitmer said. "We've had almost a 4,000% increase in terms of people who are applying, and we've been able to quadruple the number of employees who are working on this, but the fact of the matter is, the need far outweighs the our ability to answer all the calls right now, but we're going to get there." She added that people should get on the site and see which days are for them based on the first letter in their last name and try calling later in the evening, now that the call center hours have been extended.

Governor Whitmer added people should go online to see which days they should try and get online based on their first letter in their last name, and call during the now extended off-peak hours.