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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer partners with Huntington Bank and South West Economic Solution to open 20 more COVID testing sites while gyms and theatres will remain closed

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the General Motors Detroit- Hamtramck assembly plant in Detroit on January 27, 2020. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

By Kory Goldsmith

Those who were hoping Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was going to announce a reopening date for gyms and theaters at her Wednesday, Sept. 2 press conference are still waiting.

Instead, Whitmer announced that there will be 12 new COVID-19 testing sites throughout Michigan by the end of the week and 20 more in the upcoming weeks. through a partnership with Michigan Health and Human Services and local community services.

“Testing is absolutely front and center,” Whitmer said. “Because part of our robust testing plan is absolutely essential to safely and responsibly opening and sustaining an open economy and schools. Expanding testing saves lives and protects the brave men and women who have stayed on the front lines throughout this crisis and help our economy in the long run. So this is the most crucial fight we have in continuing to fight this virus. This is an incredible important tool and we’re going to continue to do everything we can to help Michiganers access it.”

Whitmer also announced that General Motors will be donating 2 million masks to Michigan public schools, with 750,000 masks designated  specifically for elementary students. These masks will arrive in two weeks. The donation will include 1.25 million adult masks for faculty, staff, and high school students. Those masks will be ready in three weeks.

Whitmer met with White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx who’s impressed with Michigan’s response. Whitmer reiterated for a national mask mandate. Whitmer is hopeful Dr. Birx will relay that message to the president.    

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun gave an update on Michigan’s overall case rate, which has declined over the past week. Grand Rapids has a rate of 59 cases per 1 million people per day and an increase of positive tests. She didn’t elaborate on how that’s an increased number of cases. 

Sandy Pierce, Huntington Bank Chair of Michigan, announced Huntington Bank’s $5 billion dollar five year commitment which will focus on small businesses, support social equity, and affordable housing with special emphasis on minorities, women, and veteran owners.        

“We do this because our purpose leads us to do more,” Pierce said. 

Whitmer concluded the press conference without giving a specific or general date of when she will allow movie theatres and gyms to reopen. 

“I will have more to say on the topic very soon, so stay tuned,” she said. 

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