A slew of Michigan residents who are unhappy with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus stay-at-home order plan to swarm the Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday in protest to the new statewide restrictions.
The rally is being organized in part by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, a right-wing group, and comes days after Whitmer announced that the order to shelter would be in effect until at least April 30. In a statement, a spokesperson for Michigan Conservative Coalition said that the group sees the order as being pushed as part of an agenda, rather than out of a genuine desire to help state residents by forestalling the virus’ spread.
“Michigan’s typical small business owners obey laws, but they may not notice the progressive agenda being pushed by our radical leftist Governor Whitmer,” Rosanne Ponkowski, the president of the group, said in a news release. “Governor Whitmer will put you out of business before allowing mere citizens to be responsible for their own behavior. That is madness.”
The groups who oppose the shelter orders specifically site the strict measures Whitmer has taken within the state. So far, Whitmer has taken serious action to slow the spread in Michigan, asking residents not to travel within the state and closing all non-essential stores with supplies for things like gardening and home-improvement goods.
Whitmer, for her part, has defended the stay-at-home order as being designed to protect Michiganders’ “health and safety,” particularly in light of the fact that Michigan currently ranks third in the U.S. in terms of coronavirus infections with more than 24,000 confirmed cases as of April 13.
"Protecting the health and safety of the people of Michigan remains the governor's number one priority," Whitmer's office said in a statement to MLive. "She has worked closely with Speaker [Lee] Chatfield and Sen. Shirkey throughout this emergency, and will continue to do so. We welcome constructive participation from the legislature, but the priority must be on taking actions to slow the spread of this virus and keep Michiganders safe."
During a Friday interview with Fox 2 News, Whitmer doubled down on the measures her office had taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. "It's not taking on that exponential nature that we all were kind of bracing for,” she said. “There is reason to believe that these Stay Home, Stay Safe measures are going to save lives. That's why we thought it was really important to extend it.”
According to the Lansing State Journal, those who oppose the stay-at-home order have been congregating in a Facebook group called "Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine," which as of Monday is nearly 270,000 members strong. While there is some disagreement among the ranks about how long an appropriate quarantine would have lasted, the consensus is that continuing to stay at home will do lasting damage to the state’s economy — and that some Michigan residents might have to be willing to pay the ultimate price in service of the greater good.
"We've come to terms with something a lot of people haven't," a Plymouth, Michigan, woman named Kristi Greulich See told the State Journal. "People are going to get this. People will die...Our goal should be how to manage it and get through it without destroying our economy."