Gretchen Whitmer Feels the Heat as Michigan Hit by Fastest COVID Surge in U.S.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is under pressure as Michigan deals with a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases, with health officials expected to further bolster anti-virus guidance.

The Midwestern state is currently experiencing the worst case rates in the U.S., according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, with an average of 572 cases per 100,000 over the last 7 days, ahead of Minnesota on 515.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Michigan recorded 57,156 new cases and 520 deaths in the last week.

The state also set a record for weekly cases in the state last week, with 61,551 new cases between November 14 and 20.

In response, Michigan officials issued new advice on mask wearing in indoor settings on Friday.

Whitmer, a Democrat, addressed the surging case numbers during a turkey giveaway on Tuesday.

She said there was likely to be more guidance from the state's Department of Health and Human Services this week.

"I think you'll see something coming out today or tomorrow," Whitmer said. "We recognize that our healthcare workers are exhausted."

"As the holidays happen I'm concerned. We've got multiple generations of families gathering, some of whom will bring COVID into those events, and sadly some family members could get sick," Whitmer said.

However, Whitmer said she believed lockdowns would not be necessary because of vaccination against the virus.

"A year ago we did not have vaccines," the governor said. "Now we have the tools to stay safe."

The CDC notes on its website that 64.3 percent of people in Michigan aged 5 years and older have at least one vaccine dose.

And the governor has urged people who had not already received the COVID-19 vaccine to do so.

"All of us in the Midwest are in this group right now and it is a collision of unvaccinated people," Whitmer said.

"And I'm not criticizing. I'm just observing this is what is feeding this growth of COVID-19 in the state of Michigan and in Wisconsin and all of our neighboring states," she said.

Michigan issued a new public health advisory on Friday saying that people aged 2 and above should wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccine status.

Elizabeth Hertel, director of MDHSS, said in a statement on November 19 that "case counts, percent positivity and hospitalizations have us very concerned."

"We are issuing the face mask advisory and are looking to Michiganders to do their part to help protect their friends, their families and their communities by wearing a mask in indoor settings and getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and flu as soon as possible if they have not already done so," Hertel said.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer introduces Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks about health care at Beech Woods Recreation Center October 16, 2020 in Southfield, Michigan. Whitmer's state is experiencing a major surge in COVID-19 cases. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images