- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2020

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer admitted Thursday she doesn’t have any evidence to back up her allegation that anti-lockdown protesters spread the coronavirus to rural areas in her state.

Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat, first made the claim Monday during a phone conversation with Vice President Mike Pence, in which she urged him to discourage the anti-lockdown protests at the Michigan state capitol because demonstrators were bringing the virus back home with them in rural areas, TheBlaze reported.

“What we have seen from initial protests here is that we’ve got COVID-19 spreading in rural parts of our state, from which people traveled,” she reportedly said.

The governor made the same claim during an appearance on ABC’s “The View” Wednesday, saying the protesters are undermining the efforts of frontline workers and others who are following the rules.

“These protests, they do undermine the effort, and it’s very clearly a political statement that is playing out where people are coming together from across the state,” she said. “They are congregating, they’re not wearing masks, they are not staying six feet apart and then they go back home into communities and the risk of perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 is real. We’ve seen it happen.”

But during a press conference later that day, Ms. Whitmer acknowledged that her claim was based on assumption.

“I don’t have proof,” she said. “I’m not following everybody home and taking their temperatures and watching them for two weeks.

“But here’s what we know when it comes to COVID-19: The way that it spreads is person-to-person contact,” she continued. “That it can stay in the air for a while. That it is — when you’re closer than 6 feet and not wearing masks, it is when you’re touching one another. And we saw a lot of that at these protests at the capitol. And that’s how COVID-19 spreads.”

Ms. Whitmer cited a report from a group she did not name that claimed to have put up a “geofence” around the capitol and then monitored cellphone data that correlated with hot spots in rural parts of Michigan.

“I don’t know the group,” the governor said. “I’ve not vetted the data. I can’t vouch for it, but I think that would not be a surprising outcome if that was the case.”

Meanwhile, armed demonstrators continued their protests at the capitol Thursday, demanding the governor lift her lockdown restrictions and let “nonessential” workers get back to work.

Ms. Whitmer said Wednesday that she thinks the protesters should be ticketed by the police for not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

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