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Whitmer says she still hopes Legislature will adopt mask mandate, COVID-19 relief

A photograph of the exterior of Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature’s Republican and Democratic leaders spoke again Tuesday about year-end priorities.

The governor and legislative sources say the call focused largely on a plan to provide relief to businesses and individuals who’ve felt the economic impact. Also, a plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccines will go first to frontline healthcare workers. Then, nursing home workers and residents.

Whitmer says she’d like to see a mask mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19 as distribution of vaccines begins.

The governor also says there are $400 million dollars in unspent funds that could be used to help unemployed workers and small businesses.

“And that would be a great way to help businesses that are struggling right now. We could do that, and we could do a mask mandate and really make a difference, and better position our economy to make a rebound after this tough chapter,” says Whitmer.

Whitmer says she and other governors have not given up hope on Congress adopting another COVID-19 assistance package for states, workers, and businesses.

“We need to extend a hand to those who are unemployed to help them through this tough time. This is not going to last forever, and the need is acute and it’s right now,” she says.

But time is growing short as the Legislature draws closer to wrapping up its session next week. The Legislature’s new session will begin in January.

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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.