Whitmer defends state health director traveling to Alabama while not fully vaccinated

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended her state's health director traveling to Alabama while not fully vaccinated, even though the governor discouraged traveling amid a nation-leading spike in COVID-19 cases.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel traveled to Gulf Shores, Alabama, despite Whitmer’s warnings against traveling as spring break started up across America.


Whitmer defended the director’s travel during a press conference on Wednesday, saying she would not "get distracted by partisan hit jobs on my team."

"There have never been travel restrictions in Michigan. There just haven't been," Whitmer continued.

MICHIGAN’S TOP HEALTH OFFICIAL TRAVELS TO ALABAMA AFTER WHITMER SPRING BREAK WARNING

"What directors do on their personal time is their business, so long as they are safe, which is what we're asking everyone in this state to do: get vaccinated, mask up," Whitmer added.


Michigan GOP communications director Ted Goodman blasted Whitmer and Hertel in a statement to Fox News on Thursday, saying it was "inexcusable" for the state's health director to travel as the governor "demanded" people in Michigan not travel.

"Gov. Whitmer has demanded that Michiganders refrain from traveling throughout this pandemic yet defends the travel of her top health officials during a time new cases are surging," said Goodman. "It is inexcusable for the state's health director – charged with leading Michigan's response to the pandemic – to vacation to Alabama when hospitalizations for both children and adults are at an all-time high as a result of COVID-19."


Goodman also pointed out that Whitmer was praised by the media for her COVID-19 response when the numbers were good but won't get anywhere near her coronavirus response with Michigan leading the country in new cases.

Tricia Foster, the governor’s chief operating officer, made headlines earlier in April for vacationing in Florida even though Whitmer said she was "concerned" about travel between states. Foster posted photos to Facebook of herself vacationing in Siesta Key. After Breitbart first reported on the trip, Foster deleted the post.

Foster was tasked in January with overseeing the state’s vaccine rollout strategy, according to WCMU.


CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that Michigan shut down again, which Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., blasted in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday.

"It’s clear that Michigan is a hot spot for COVID-19. To prevent further spread and save lives, the Biden administration should adopt a surge strategy and increase vaccine allocation to Michigan instead of advocating for shutting down the economy," Huizenga said. "Manufacturers, restaurants and small businesses alike are still trying to recover from the mandated government shutdowns over the past year."


"Shutting down the economy again is not the answer," the congressman added.


Fox News’ Evie Fordham and Morgan Phillips contributed to this reporting.