Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer argued for a national face mask mandate in an opinion piece published in the New York Times on Wednesday.
Citing various mask mandates from across the country, Whitmer said that wearing masks can “save lives and put ourselves in a better position to send our children back to school in the fall.”
“Leaders across the country are telling families to mask up because the data shows it is the best way to protect ourselves and one another from Covid-19. Wearing a mask has been proven to reduce the chance of spreading Covid-19 by about 70 percent,” Whitmer wrote. “Modeling from the University of Washington indicates that more than 40,000 lives would be spared nationwide if 95 percent of the population wore a mask while in public.”
Michigan currently requires residents to wear a face mask while indoors or in an outdoor space where social distancing is not possible. Exemptions are in place, including for those who cannot medically tolerate a mask, are too young to wear one or are eating and drinking. It also allows exemptions for those officiating religious services, those who are talking to the hearing impaired or those who have been asked to remove the mask as part of an identification process.
“The heroes on the front lines of this crisis go for hours without taking their masks off every day,” Whitmer wrote. “Doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and child care and grocery store workers wear them when they are on the job and putting their own lives on the line to protect us. We owe it to them to wear our masks when we go to the grocery store.”
The Michigan governor also said she applauded President Trumps’ recent statements in favor of masks, which followed previous refusals to wear them. He said in a White House coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday that “whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact,” according to CBS News.
Whitmer called for Trump to issue a federal mask mandate similar to Michigan’s, which requires masks indoors and when social distancing is not possible, but allows room for exemptions.
“Wearing a mask is not a political statement; it is about protecting our loved ones from the spread of this deadly virus” Whitmer said. “I know the president has begun to understand that…The president has the chance to save tens of thousands of lives. I am hopeful that he will seize this opportunity.”
Read the full piece from Whitmer here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer. Background Photo “Gretchen Whitmer Op-ed” by The New York Times.