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Whitmer hopes to relax some of the COVID-19 limitations by May 1

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she hopes to start opening things back up in about 2 weeks, but she acknowledged things are still in flux.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday she hopes to relax some of the coronavirus limitations set on the state by May 1.

Whitmer appeared on Good Morning America Friday morning to discuss the unemployment crisis, the protests against her recent executive order extending social distancing and closures in Michigan, and the need for more expanded testing to "get a handle on where COVID-19 is and where the threats are."

Michigan is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic with more than 26,000 cases and 2,000 deaths -- the third highest death rate in the country, Whitmer explained. More than one million residents have filed for unemployment and small business owners are feeling the heat as closures continue. 

"We have a unique crisis here in Michigan, and we need a unique solution," the governor said. 

During her interview on GMA, George Stephanopoulos asked Whitmer about Ohio's governor, Matt DeWine, who plans on reopening his state by May 1. 

"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 precisely where we'll be in a week from now much less two," Whitmer said.

On Thursday, Whitmer, DeWine and five other Midwest governors announced they would be coordinating to reopen their state economies. The announcement made clear that governors will work with experts to take "fact-based, data-driven approach" to reopening economies in order to protect against further spread of the virus. 

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Whitmer reiterated that during her GMA interview Friday morning, "Each decision we make is supported by the science, by the facts, and is in the best interest of the health of the people -- because that's ultimately what matter to our ability to ramp up our economy again and avoid a second wave, which would be devastating."

Stephanopoulos also asked about the criticism Whitmer has faced in recent days, noting four sheriffs, from Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties, who recently said Whitmer's orders were "overstepping" her authority and would not strictly enforce Whitmer's orders. Last week, the governor extended the Stay Home, Stay Safe order until May 1 and placed even tighter restrictions on grocery stores and residents to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

"If it makes people feel better to take their frustrations out on me, that's fine. All I ask is let's not get overly political," Whitmer responded.  "With each of these orders, they weigh heavily on me. I know that when I closed bars there are going to be people who are laid off, when I pulled kids out of school there are kids who aren't getting the the education they need or the meals that they come to rely on. 

Whitmer continued on says there's a price that's paid. "I know that there are a lot of businesses and and people that are hurting right now. But the fact of the matter is, it's better to be six feet apart right now than six feet under and that is the whole point of this. We've got to save lives, every life matters."

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