It’s been two months and a day since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s last executive order, issued on Oct. 9, but the governor on Thursday signed Executive Order 2020-193.
In remarks to the press, the governor also addressed the recent controversy swirling around Michigan State Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D-Detroit. On Wednesday, Johnson released a video on social media in which she appeared to endorse physical violence against supporters of Donald Trump, whom she referred to as “Trumpers.”
Johnson herself had received many threatening messages containing misogynistic and racist language, but her response has been condemned by many state Democrats and Republicans.
Whitmer said the disciplinary actions taken by House Speaker Lee Chatfied, R-Levering, which stripped Johnson from membership in three high-profile committees, went too far.
“I think that this is a woman who has been through a lot,” the governor said, referring to Johnson. “I think it’s important that every single one of us give one another a little compassion and grace.”
Whitmer continued to state Johnson was experiencing the stress of having a “loved one” currently hospitalized, the loss of several others to COVID-19, racist and misogynist attacks, and threats upon her life. The governor noted Johnson’s stress was exacerbated by her exposure to the virus at a meeting last week attended by President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.
“I believe that it is crucial that we show one another some grace right now and some empathy and some compassion,” Whitmer said. "I think that removing her from committees is too far, truly."
The governor said she has reached out to ask the incoming House leadership to reconsider those removals.
Whitmer spend the bulk of her news conference discussing her Executive Order 2020-193, which establishes the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission (PMC) with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. According to the governor, the commission aims to raise awareness of the two COVID-19 vaccines that could be available to states as early as next week.
“Right now, we are on the brink of great breakthroughs when it comes to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, and we must begin to educate Michiganders about how important it is that we all get vaccinated so we can eradicate this virus once and for all,” Whitmer said in a statement. “That’s what the Protect Michigan Commission is all about.”
The commission will eventually consist of at least 50 members, and will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov.r Garlin Gilchrist II; former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley; Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun; Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, associate professor of pediatrics and C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health; SER Metro CEO Eva Dewaelsche; Soumit Pendharkar, health administrator for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese-Decker; and Jamie Brown, a registered nurse and president of the Michigan Nurses Association.
The PMC will advise the governor and DHHS on such topics as reducing public confusion and distrust of Federal Drug Administration-approved vaccines. The commission will also be responsible for identifying geographical areas and groups within the state unwilling to immediately accept the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.
The PMC is tasked with developing an outreach plan in response to any barriers to the vaccine, and will submit its final report to the governor by Dec. 31, 2021.
“If we’re going to ensure that everyone in our state has the information they need to get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, we must all work together as Michiganders,” Calley said.
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