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Whitmer: State will distribute 4 million masks

Vera Davidova

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday that a new partnership will help get about four million protective face masks to people who might otherwise have trouble procuring them.

The arrangement is between the state, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Ford Motor Company.

It will focus on getting masks to schools in low-income areas, as well as distributing them through federally qualified health centers and community groups.

Whitmer said getting masks to more people will save lives.

“Wearing a mask has been proven to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70% according to one estimate,” she said. “If 95% of Americans wore masks between now and December 1st, it would save 66,000 American lives.”

Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said new COVID-19 cases appear to have peaked.

“Even if that trend is stabilizing, it only takes a few people to create an outbreak and have the disease spread rapidly in a community,” she said. “We’re still seeing outbreaks across the state in every region.”

Whitmer said the distribution of more masks and people adopting health precautions will make it more likely school can start in the fall with some measure of in-person learning.       

“To get through this, and to ensure the safety of our educators, kids, and support staff this fall, everyone’s got to continue to do their part,” she said.

The governor and the Legislature are still negotiating over back-to-school plans that could be voted on as soon as this weekend.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.