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Whitmer levels harsh words against Trump, announces scholarship program for frontline workers

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

Governor Gretchen Whitmer leveled harsh words Thursday against President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

She called Trump “the biggest enemy of the state” over an interview taped by journalist Bob Woodward.

In it, Trump said he downplayed the danger of COVID-19. The governor said, if that is true, the President prolonged the crisis.

“We will not be here forever. I’m hopeful it will be a matter of months. I believe that to be the case. But every one of us has to do our part and we have to be honest about how serious the situation is,” she said.

Whitmer said that deception cost lives.

“And I think the biggest enemy of the state right now is the misinformation that’s coming right now out of the head of state,” she said.

The rebuke from the Democratic governor came as Trump was about to make a campaign visit to the Saginaw area. Whitmer said she’s also concerned that people at the rally may not take precautions such as social distancing and wearing masks.

Overall case rates of COVID-19 are dropping in Michigan – but some regions are seeing increases.

Michigan's Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, says areas around Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Jackson are seeing a rise in cases.

Khaldun says it’s important for parents and kids to stay vigilant as schools reopen.

“I also know again, I'm the mother of three children, that part of the fun of childhood is having gatherings with friends and playdates. This social interaction is important for our children's well-being. I completely understand that. But please consider not having those playdates as you normally would,” she said.

Meanwhile, Whitmer announced an education initiative similar to the GI bill.

Whitmer announced Thursday morning the state will pay for two years of education for eligible workers.

"'Futures for Frontliners' is a tuition free college opportunity that will help more workers acquire technical certificates, associate degrees that are community colleges and potentially bachelor degrees at our universities after this crisis is over," Whitmer said.

Eligible workers include those in the medical field, but also essential workers in manufacturing, nursing homes, grocery stores, sanitation, and delivery.

The scholarships will be available to 625,000 workers who don’t already have degrees or professional certificates.

The money comes from the CARES Act – the coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress earlier this year.

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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.
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