Gov. Whitmer: Sports This Fall Depend On Masking Up Now

"We could very quickly become where Florida or California is."

The Morning Show With Stoney and Heather
July 16, 2020 - 11:54 am
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With coronavirus cases spiking in Michigan and high school and college sports this fall in jeopardy, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging citizens to mask up. 

"We’ve got 56 days until the beginning of school," Whitmer told the Jamie and Stoney Show Thursday. "We know that this virus is still very present, that it can spread like wildfire. You look at what’s going on in Alabama, Florida, Texas, all across this country there are examples of unchecked spread of Covid-19 where they’re shutting down again. That’s what we’re trying to avoid here.

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"If we mask up now, it increases the odds we get our kids back in school, we can resume some of these great sporting events that we all want to see. But it depends on all of us doing our part now." 

Whitmer has already called on the Michigan High School Athletic Association to move football and other high-contact fall sports to the spring. A decision is expected one way or another later this month. If cases continue to rise, there's a chance the fall season could be canceled altogether. 

Whitmer doesn't want to see that.

"Sports is an important part of our culture. It’s an important part of learning for the athletes. We’d like to make sure we’re able to compete and enjoy sports," she said. "But it’s all going to be determined by what people do right now, and I’m talking about the general public.

"I’ve chatted with the (commissioner) of MLB, the NFL. I’ve chatted with leaders who are promulgating really smart practices about keeping athletes safe and not having big crowds coming to watch, but maybe watching it on TV, consuming it a different way. At the end of the day, it’s all going to depend on whether or not we mask up now." 

Whitmer Urges Caution As Pro Sports Return In Michigan

With that in mind, the likes of Jim Harbaugh, Tom Izzo, Juwan Howard and Mel Tucker teamed up on a recent 'Mask Up' television ad that started airing this week. Michigan State women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant and Michigan women's basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico are in the video as well. 

"We span the variety of sports in these two universities, but of course it’s not just about Spartans and Wolverines. It’s about Broncos, it’s about Wildcats, it’s about all of us," Whitmer said. "This is about Michigan. This is about trying to make sure it’s safe to get our kids back in school this fall, keeping our businesses open. This is about public health and nothing more. ... Get politics out of the conversation and let’s just put Michigan in a strong position." 

The state was in a strong position with regard to the pandemic just last month. But as restrictions have loosened, cases have climbed. Whitmer said the state reported 900 new cases on Wednesday and numbers have increased in every part of the state over the last week. 

"It’s very concerning," she said. "If you think about school starting in just over 50 days, in the same period of time, from the first case of Covid-19, we had 4,000 deaths. That’s why I say things can change rapidly. If people drop their guard now, stop wearing masks, start congregating again, we could very quickly become where Florida or California is and have to start rolling back and even possibly go back into a shutdown. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.

"We’ve shown we are capable of crushing the curve, pushing it down, saving lives. We did it. What we need to do (now) is stay vigilant now, and that means universally masking up."