Michigan GOP Cranks Up Pressure on State Governor to Ease Coronavirus Lockdown as She Faces Protests, Lawsuit

After receiving widespread praise for her swift response to the coronavirus outbreak, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is now facing growing pressure from Republican lawmakers and state residents to relax the state's strict "stay-at-home" policies.

On Wednesday, protesters held a drive-in rally dubbed "Operation Gridlock" where they shut down traffic in a bid to demand that Whitmer open up the state again.

Hosted by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, the rally also saw some protesters get out of their vehicles outside the state capitol building to call on Whitmer to relax the "stay at home" rules.

That demand is one that has been championed by Michigan Senate Republicans, with the Senate body calling on the state's residents to "tell Governor Gretchen Whitmer Michiganders can be trusted to work safely where appropriate!"

"Call Gov. Whitmer and ask her to let us go back to work," Michigan Senate Republicans said in a recent Facebook post.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey further took to Facebook and accused Whitmer of "DESTROYING OUR HEALTH BY KILLING OUR LIVELIHOODS!" in a call for businesses to be allowed to reopen, so long as they follow social distancing measures.

Despite the widespread calls, Whitmer has remained steadfast, asserting that rules will only be relaxed when that decision is "supported by the science." That time could come as soon as May 1, she has said. However, the governor has refused to commit to any timeline.

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"I do hope to have some relaxing come May 1 but it's two weeks away and the information and the data and our ability to test is changing so rapidly, it's hard to tell you precisely where we'll be in a week from now much less two," Whitmer said in an interview with Good Morning America on Friday morning.

"We are looking very carefully at making sure each decision we make is supported by the science, by the facts and is in the best interest of the people because that's ultimately what matters to our ability to ramp up our economy again and avoid a second wave, which would be devastating," the governor said.

In the wake of the outbreak, Michigan has enforced some of the country's most stringent "stay-at-home" policies, with Whitmer signing a number of executive orders closing businesses and forcing social distancing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As of Thursday, Michigan had 29,263 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 2,093 cases resulting death, according to the state's health department.

Newsweek has contacted Whitmer's office for comment.

Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Democratic gubernatorial nominee, speaks with a reporter after a Democrat Unity Rally at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel August 8, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. Whitmer is facing pressure to relax Michigan's coronavirus response rules. Bill Pugliano/Getty