Governor Enlists Coaches to Urge Michiganders to “Mask Up”

Following the governor’s news COVID-19 update on Wednesday, her office released the following:

LANSING, Mich. — Today, University of Michigan and Michigan State University men’s and women’s basketball coaches joined Governor Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist to call on Michiganders to wear a mask while they’re out in public. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also released a new television ad featuring MSU football coach Mel Tucker, MSU men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo, MSU women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant, U-M football coach Jim Harbaugh, U-M men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard, and U-M women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico. In the ad that will air on local television stations across the state, the rival coaches join together to promote the importance of wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keep Michigan moving forward, not backward.

“If we all work together as a team and wear our masks now, we can put our state in a stronger position for kids to return to school safely in the fall,” said Governor Whitmer.“Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent, and it’s been proven that masking up can protect our small businesses and our economy. By wearing masks, we can save lives and protect our family, friends, and the heroes on the front lines from the spread of COVID-19. This is going to be a team effort, but I know Michigan is up to the challenge. Let’s all mask up when we’re out in public.”

“As Michiganders, we will do anything to support our team. But right now, we need to come together as one to ensure that we ‘Mask Up, Michigan,’” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist II. “If we all take appropriate and responsible actions now, we can slow the spread of this virus, save lives, and be in a better position to get back to the rivalries that we know and love.”

“It’s simple – wearing a mask saves lives,” said Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.“As we continue working around the clock to fight this virus, it’s crucial that all Michiganders step up and do their part by wearing a mask and practicing safe physical distancing. Let’s all work together as a team and remain vigilant and flexible in this fight.”

Last week, Governor Whitmer signed executive order 2020-147, which reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces. Most significantly, the order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions. Governors in the states of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses.

“It doesn’t matter who you root for or who you vote for, I am encouraging everyone to wear a mask,” said MSU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo. “It’s simple, but we all have to commit to it to make it work. This is a decision about the health of each person and the health of our greater community. Wearing a mask will protect you and can help save lives.”

“We are all in this together – as one team, whether that is Maize and Blue or Green and White,” said U-M Men’s Head Basketball Coach Juwan Howard. “Wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and washing your hands are easy steps to help us all succeed. Let’s all do our part to be safe and stay healthy.”

“We are all in this fight together, and one of the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a mask,” said MSU Head Women’s BasketballCoach Suzy Merchant.“We all want to get back on the court, return to school and to get back to cheering on our favorite teams, so we all have to do our part. As a parent and a coach, I firmly believe that there is nothing more important than making sure that we keep our kids safe and healthy. We all have to make sure we mask up, Michigan!”

“As a parent and a coach, there is nothing more important to me than the health and safety of our children and community,” said University of Michigan Head Women’s Basketball Coach Kim Barnes Arico. “Whether you live in Ann Arbor, East Lansing or Northern Michigan, we are all on the same team in this fight. Together, we can mask up for Michigan and make a difference.”

Daily COVID-19 case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Detroit, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Jackson and Upper Peninsula regions, and exceed 40 cases per million in the Grand Rapids region. Research confirms that a big part of the reason is spotty compliance with the governor’s requirement, issued in prior orders, that individuals wear face coverings in public spaces.

Studies have shown that wearing a mask can save lives and significantly lower an individual’s chance of spreading COVID-19. A study on different regions in Germany, for example, suggests that the adoption of mandatory mask ordinances decreased the daily growth rate of COVID-19 infections by 40%. Modeling from the University of Washington similarly indicates that more than 40,000 lives would be spared nationwide if 95% of the population wore a mask while in public. Furthermore, a study conducted by Goldman Sachs concluded that a federal mask mandate could save the U.S. economy from taking a 5% hit to our GDP.

Under the governor’s executive order on masks, businesses that are open to the public must refuse entry and service to individuals who fail to comply, and must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside. Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses include people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.