When pressed Wednesday, the top health adviser to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) inadvertently admitted the governor is not “following the science,” per her opinion.
“Following the science” has been a staple of Whitmer’s talking points since the COVID pandemic began, but Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Whitmer’s chief medical adviser, was asked if she recommended Whitmer issue an order requiring masks in schools. Khaldun answered affirmatively, claiming, “it would likely decrease the spread of COVID-19 in schools.”
Thus far, Whitmer has refused to issue a statewide mandate, instead leaning on school districts and county health departments to do it. The governor has shared that she and the GOP legislature decided that it was better to leave masking requirements up to the individual school districts.
However, very few districts have. As reported by The Michigan Star, only three out of 56 Michigan districts have mandated masks in elementary schools. As reported by The Star, “Students are poised to return to classrooms in the coming weeks, and Whitmer’s administration has sought to pressure school boards and local health departments into issuing orders so her administration can be relieved of imposing politically unpopular regulations, especially after she has already declared victory over the virus.”
The Detroit News reported:
“I have recommended that if a mask mandate were in place, and it were followed, it would likely decrease the spread of COVID-19 in schools,” Khaldun responded when asked specifically if she advised Whitmer and the director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Hertel, to impose a mask mandate for schools.
Then, Khaldun said her “lane” was to provide public health guidance and there are “many other things” to be considered. Asked what those things were, she responded that she couldn’t say “at this time.”
Reporters who were a part of the briefing where Khaldun made the statement also alleged that a similar question was asked to state epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin reportedly intervened, saying, “I don’t know if that would be a question for Dr. Lyon-Callo to answer. So we’re probably going to have to get back to you,” WLNS reported.
Dave Boucher, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, characterized the response by the spokeswoman as saying “that recommendation wouldn’t be in her purview.”
Lyon-Callo is presenting what appears to be the case for mandating masks in schools. She's gone through how kids can and will get sick if there are not mask rules.
But remember, DHHS has not issued any such mandate https://t.co/mvdNBR8YgY
— Dave Boucher (@Dave_Boucher1) August 18, 2021
When asked why the department was not issuing a mandate, Sutfin responded, “I guess I don’t know if we have an answer to that question right now.”
Reporters asked to speak to Hertel, who was on the call. WLNS reported she declined, saying she was “not able to hear the entire briefing.”
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