Whitmer blames Michigan coronavirus numbers on travelers after top staffer vacationed in FL
Whitmer aide posts Florida beach photos despite governor's travel warning
Michigan governor's top aide vacations in Florida; reaction from state Rep. Steve Johnson.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday blamed travelers for a growing number of B117 coronavirus variant cases — after asking for "grace" for a top staffer who took heat for a recent vacation in Florida.
"At the end of the day, this is going to come down to whether or not everyone does their part," Whitmer told "Meet the Press." "That's the most important thing. This variant, the B117 variant, is what is growing so quickly in Michigan. We have the second most, I think, after Florida."
"Michigan and Florida are not next to each other. But this is the time of the year that snow birds come home from Florida, where people are going on spring break, and all of these things can contribute to spread. That's why we're imploring people to take this seriously, mask up, get tested," she said.
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Whitmer's new health director traveled to Alabama earlier in April, shortly after the Democratic governor discouraged residents from traveling as Michigan led the nation in new coronavirus cases.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel was in Gulf Shores, Alabama, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service. Gulf Shores is a popular resort destination along the Gulf of Mexico.
In this Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Elizabeth Hertel, director of the state health department addresses the state, speaks in Lansing, Mich. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, File)
A DHHS spokesperson told Fox News the agency does not "discuss the director’s personal schedule."
Tricia Foster, the governor’s chief operating officer, made headlines earlier in April for vacationing in Florida even though Whitmer said she was "concerned" about travel between states. Foster posted photos to Facebook of herself vacationing in Siesta Key. After Breitbart first reported on the trip, Foster deleted the post.
Foster was tasked in January with overseeing the state’s vaccine rollout strategy, according to WCMU.
Whitmer addressed Foster's travel on the "MIRS Monday" podcast.
"We've never had any travel restrictions in Michigan, and I've just encouraged people that if they travel to be safe, mask up, get vaccinated," Whitmer said, according to MIRS. "We all need to show one another a little bit of grace. We're all eager to get out."
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During remarks on April 2, Whitmer recommended that everyone get tested after any kind of travel, even in state. Whitmer has also repeatedly expressed concern about spring breakers traveling to Florida. She urged people returning from the Sunshine State to work from home for a week or have their children learn remotely for a week.
"Yes, I am concerned" about travel between the states, the governor told reporters earlier this month. "That's why we are really encouraging people to get vaccinated."
Fox News' Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.