Michigan Governor Whitmer Says a Vaccine Is Needed Before Filling Stadiums

During a COVID-19 update on Friday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer reiterated that sports fans won't be able to fill stadiums until a vaccine is available.

In the Friday press conference, Whitmer responded to a reporter's question about what conditions she thought that professional and college sports would be able to return to Michigan.

"I think that we're going to be in a new normal for quite a while," Whitmer said. "We need a vaccine, and we need to have mask quantities available or we need to be able to test and acknowledge that we've got some immunity that's built up. We're not there yet."

In an earlier interview on Detroit's "Mojo in the Morning" radio show this past Tuesday, the governor previously addressed the stadium issue. "We also have to measure their expectations and say, 'life's going to be different.' We're not going to be filling stadiums in the fall," she said in response to a question about expectations for the state's reopening.

In a statement given to Newsweek, the governor's press secretary, Tiffany Brown, said that stadium reopenings will depend on data and medical experts. "Medical experts have made it clear that COVID-19 spreads when people are in close contact with one another, and without a vaccine, our best strategy in combating the virus is to practice social distancing. In regards to stadiums, our administration will continue to make informed decisions on re-engagement based upon data and medical expertise," she said.

Despite the delay in fans filling up stadiums, Whitmer spoke about measures that leagues are taking to bring back sports in empty stadiums, like Major League Baseball.

"It doesn't mean that sports is over. Sports is not over. Major League Baseball is pursuing a shorter season. They're doing it in stadiums where people can watch the games on television, not in person. That may have to be how we operate for a while," she said in the Friday update. "I think all of the organizers of these leagues understand how important it is that we act responsibly here. We can have sports; just the way we observe them might look a little different for a while."

As previously reported, the MLB is planning to kick off an 82-game season in July. Teams will be expected to play at their home stadiums or training facilities, if state governments don't approve reopening. Although fans will not be able to attend early games, MLB has potential plans to sell a few tickets and slowly increase sales.

gretchen whitmer
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stands on stage at an event where General Motors announced that GMs Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant will build the all-electric Cruise Origin self-driving shuttle on January 27, 2020 in Hamtramck, Michigan. Whitmer said in a press conference that stadiums won't open until there's a vaccine. Bill Pugliano/Getty