Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer blamed travelers for the rising number of coronavirus cases on Sunday after asking that Michiganders give "grace" to a top staffer who travelled to Florida, Fox News reports.
"At the end of the day, this is going to come down to whether or not everyone does their part," Whitmer said. "That's the most important thing. This variant, the B117 variant, is what is growing so quickly in Michigan. We have the second most, I think, after Florida."
The B117 variant, also known as the "British variant," is considered a variant of concern among pandemic experts. While Florida is currently leading the nation in the total number of B117 variant cases, Michigan surpasses Florida on a per capita basis.
"Michigan and Florida are not next to each other. But this is the time of the year that snow birds come home from Florida, where people are going on spring break, and all of these things can contribute to spread," Whitmer said. "That's why we're imploring people to take this seriously, mask up, get tested."
The comments come a few weeks after it was discovered that Tricia Foster, Whitmer's chief operating officer overseeing the state's vaccine rollout, posted a picture on Facebook of herself vacationing in Siesta Key, Florida. She later deleted the picture after outrage ensued.
"We've never had any travel restrictions in Michigan, and I've just encouraged people that if they travel to be safe, mask up, get vaccinated," Whitmer previously said of the incident. "We all need to show one another a little bit of grace. We're all eager to get out."
Foster is not the only Michigan state official to have travelled in spite of Whitmer's recommendations. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel travelled to the popular tourist destination of Gulf Shores, Alabama earlier this month as well.