Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer admitted Wednesday she doesn't have proof to back up her claims that anti-lockdown protesters in the state may be spreading the coronavirus to rural areas.
What's the background?
Whitmer had expressed the concern to Vice President Mike Pence in a phone call early Wednesday, asking Pence to consider discouraging such demonstrations, which have been a regular occurrence in the state for weeks as the governor's strict stay-at-home order has remained in place.
"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 told the vice president.
Gov. Whitmer asked VP Pence to consider discouraging protests. Per audio, she expressed concern about COVID-19 spre… https://t.co/GXlWZj7z59— Katherine Faulders (@Katherine Faulders)1589224611.0
Then, during an appearance on ABC's "The View," Whitmer branded the protests "political statements" that increase the "risk of perpetuating the spread" of the virus.
"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."
'I don't have proof'
But later in the day, after being pressed by reporters on whether she has specific data that she is drawing on to make her claims, Whitmer admitted that she doesn't have "proof" that the protests are increasing the spread.
"I don't have proof," the governor said during a news conference, according to WSJM-TV. "I'm not following everyone home and taking their temperatures and watching their lives 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.
"It can stay in the air for a while," she added. "It is when you're touching one another, and we saw a lot of that at these protests at the Capitol."
Whitmer did mention a report she has allegedly seen from a group that has tracked cellphone data from the protests that correlates to "hot spots in rural parts of Michigan," but she quickly added a disclaimer.
"I don't know the group; I've not vetted the data; I can't vouch for it, but I think that would not be a surprising outcome if that were the case," she said.
Despite Whitmer's urging, another protest took place at the state Capitol Thursday morning.
(H/T: The Daily Caller)