The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is honoring Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) with a "Profile in Courage" award for her response to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to honor Whitmer has shocked many, considering the numerous questionable decisions the Democratic governor has made in attempting to handle the coronavirus pandemic.
The JFK Library Foundation created a special "COVID Courage" award and announced on Tuesday that it is honoring seven people on the "front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic that were going above and beyond their everyday responsibilities to help those in their communities."
The organization determined that Gov. Whitmer is worthy of the honor for her leadership and uncompromising lockdown orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
When Michigan's first cases of COVID-19 were identified in early March 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer invoked emergency powers in a bid to contain the spread of the virus and save lives, issuing early, controversial orders to close schools and businesses, mandate mask wearing, and ban large gatherings, among other measures.
While her leadership earned praise from many, she also faced sustained, vocal backlash over stay-at-home rules that remained in place as COVID-19 cases in Michigan continued to rise during the spring. Protests over Whitmer's pandemic response became increasingly threatening, with armed demonstrators surrounding and at one point storming the state capitol to demand an end to stay-at-home orders. In October, thirteen men were charged with a June 2020 plot to kidnap Whitmer. The men were said to be motivated at least in part by anger and resentment over pandemic restrictions. Despite violent threats against her life, Whitmer did not back down. She stayed focused on following the science and listening to public health experts to get the pandemic under control and start rebuilding Michigan's economy.
We're grateful to frontline heroes across the country. Learn more about the seven honorees who represent the courag… https://t.co/p2vqOpskeA— JFK Library (@JFK Library) 1620137729.0
Many people were taken aback that Whitmer won an award for her coronavirus response, and there were comparisons to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo winning an Emmy Award in "recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world."
Much like Cuomo, Whitmer was also embroiled in a nursing home scandal. Whitmer issued an executive order last May that prohibited nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from turning away residents who tested positive for COVID-19.
Whitmer made headlines at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic for her draconian lockdown measures, including barring Michiganians from visiting friends and families in different households. The lockdowns resulted in businesses shutting down.
Whitmer's rigid stay-at-home orders prompted protests, and there was a storming of the state capitol to end the stringent restrictions. There were state and federal lawsuits filed against Whitmer over the harsh lockdowns, which were some of the strictest in the nation. By November, there were calls for Whitmer's impeachment.
There was a controversy last May in which Whitmer's husband allegedly attempted to use his wife's position to get his boat put in the water before Memorial Day weekend.
In June, Whitmer flouted her own executive order mandating social distancing when she attended a George Floyd march.
Whitmer was honored with the JFK Library award for her COVID-19 response and economic recovery, despite Michigan being in the middle of the pack with other states in terms of COVID-19 cases per million (34th), coronavirus deaths per million (16th), tests per million (23rd), percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered (37th), and March unemployment rate (24th).
Former Michigan Senate candidate John James mocked Whitmer receiving an award for her COVID-19 response as "tone-deaf."
"I actually understand that this is one of many awards that our governor has been winning recently. I heard that she's recently won two job creator jobs awards in Ohio and Indiana and the number one real estate developer in Florida," James joked on "Fox & Friends."
"And when you talk about profiles in courage, people who will put themselves in harm's way to do the right thing versus a politician who maybe is under draconian orders that have sacrificed livelihoods and lives, it looks politically motivated at worst, and tone-deaf at best," the Republican stated. "There are a lot of people who are struggling around Michigan."
James suggested that if any governor was deserving of an award for pandemic response, it would be Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"Governor Ron DeSantis is a military veteran. He understands what it's like to make life-and-death decisions," James said. "He's not one of these other politicians who moved through this COVID crisis, through polling and panic. I believe that we need more leaders like this. And I think that that's how you prevent this from happening."
According to WLWT, the other John F. Kennedy Library Foundation "Profile in Courage" award winners include:
Dr. Amy Acton, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health; Burnell Cotlon, the owner of Burnell's Market in New Orleans, who allowed dozens of customers who lost their jobs at the outset of the pandemic to take groceries on credit, putting his own livelihood at risk; Fred Freeman, a Hanover, Massachusetts, fire captain and registered nurse who helped establish a program to deliver COVID-19 testing and other critical health services to residents who could not leave their homes; Antonio Greene, an Amazon delivery driver in Charleston, South Carolina, who while risking his health to make deliveries noticed a sign on the door of a customer's home which alerted visitors that he was undergoing chemotherapy and was immunocompromised; Lauren Leander, an Arizona ICU nurse who cares for COVID-19 patients, who stood with three colleagues in support of stay-at-home orders in front of hundreds of protestors, some of whom intentionally coughed on her and her fellow nurses; and Darrell R. Marks, an academic adviser in Arizona who advocates for the rights of the Navajo and Hopi tribal communities at Flagstaff High School, who coordinated deliveries of food and supplies to Navajo and Hopi families struggling during the pandemic and advocated for voting rights in the face of efforts to disenfranchise Native Americans.