by Scott McClallen
After calling state vaccine mandates a “problem” on Dec. 7, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has apparently changed her mind and now supports them.
“I know if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees,” Whitmer said on Dec. 7, the Greenville Daily News reported. “That’s why I haven’t proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not, we’re waiting to see what happens in court.”
Michigan Freedom Fund Executive Director Tori Sachs criticized Whitmer for a “complete 180” changing her stance.
“Encouraging vaccination and sharing scientific data is a far better approach than imposing Federal mandates,” Sachs said in a statement. “Michigan’s economy has struggled to recover from Gov. Whitmer’s COVID orders, and enforcing President Biden’s vaccine mandate will make the problems facing our state worse.”
On Wednesday, Whitmer told reporters: “I appreciate what President Biden is trying to accomplish. It’s about saving lives. It’s about getting more people vaccinated. If we’re successful on those fronts, it’s going (to be) to everyone’s benefit.”
Whitmer said she wasn’t criticizing the Democratic president’s plan.
“The state of Michigan employs 50,000 people, and I was sharing with these business folks the same concerns that I have,” Whitmer said Wednesday.… The state of Michigan workforce is very similar to the rest of the workforce. We’ve got a chunk of people that haven’t been vaccinated, may not ever get vaccinated. What does that mean for our ability to deliver services for the people of our state? That was the concern that I had. I was not criticizing the Biden mandate.”
Since March 2020, Michigan businesses have struggled to hire adequate numbers of workers as well as navigate COVID-19 requirements amid a tight labor shortage after thousands left the workforce. Michigan labor leaders have warned a vaccine mandate would exacerbate that labor shortage.
In 2020, Whitmer issued more than 190 executive orders, some of which banned travel to a second residence, banned nonessential advertising from stores larger than 50,000 feet, and dictated which stores Michiganders could buy paint supplies – all in the name of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Even as of June 2021, Whitmer had enacted the Midwest’s most restrictive and most prolonged COVID-19 restrictions.
But a year later as the state draws closer to the 2022 gubernatorial election, Whitmer has apparently changed her mind.
Another related problem is about half of those 50,000 workers are still working remotely, which has decimated downtown Lansing businesses.
Soul Nutrition in downtown Lansing is the latest to close its doors permanently.
The nation’s top court will hear two challenges to Biden’s vaccine mandate on Jan. 7. The mandate is scheduled to start on Jan. 4.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by University of Michigan’s Ford School CC BY 2.0.