By Bria Brown

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer met with White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx in Lansing Wednesday to discuss Michigan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The governor also expressed her concerns with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s abrupt change last week to discourage asymptomatic testing even among individuals who may have been exposed. “This updated guidance, while voluntary, runs counter to what we are learning about this disease and jeopardizes our ability to return to school and work safely,” she said.  

During her meeting with Dr. Birx, the governor further reiterated the need for a national mask mandate that could save thousands of American lives. 

“I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with Dr. Birx as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan. This virus remains a serious threat to our families, our frontline workers, and our economy, and what’s needed is more support at the federal level to help us expand testing, ensure everyone wears a mask while in public, support our frontline workers and small businesses, and save lives,” said Whitmer. 

During her meeting with Dr. Birx, the governor further reiterated the need for a national mask mandate that could save thousands of American lives. 

The governor also spoke with Dr. Birx about the important role the Michigan National Guard plays in implementing Michigan’s testing plan.

The Michigan National Guard has been crucial in assisting the Department of Corrections with testing MDOC staff and people serving time in Michigan prisons.

To date, the state has also facilitated testing for over 40,837 residents and staff in nursing homes.

President Donald Trump has imposed a 25 percent state cost share for funding the Michigan National Guard COVID-19 response from August 21 to December 31, 2020. This places additional financial burdens on the state, making it more difficult for the Michigan National Guard to support the state’s testing goals and save lives.

In her meeting with Dr. Birx, the governor also requested the Administration restore full federal funding for the Michigan National Guard to support Michigan’s testing operations in vulnerable settings like nursing homes and prisons. 

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