Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who was widely criticized for her coronavirus restrictions, will be honored with a Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for her response to the pandemic.
The foundation announced Tuesday that seven individuals will receive special Profile in Courage Awards related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Caroline Kennedy — the daughter of former President Kennedy — and her son, Jack Schlossberg, are expected to present the awards in a virtual ceremony on May 26.
“These heroes went above and beyond for their community and our country, and remind us that we all can make a difference if we answer the call to serve,” Schlossberg said in a statement.
The foundation said in a tweet that Whitmer used her emergency powers early in order to contain the coronavirus and keep people safe despite overwhelming pushback, including threats, from state residents.
In the face of backlash and threats, @GovWhitmer invoked emergency powers to contain the spread of the virus, issuing early, controversial orders to close schools and businesses, mandate mask wearing, and ban large gatherings, among other measures to keep people safe. pic.twitter.com/lTfcx7i5hQ
— JFK Library (@JFKLibrary) May 4, 2021
“She stayed focused on following the science and listening to public health experts to get the pandemic under control and start rebuilding Michigan’s economy,” the foundation said in its news release.
Whitmer is among the many Democratic governors who received national criticism for responding to the pandemic by imposing lockdowns and other restrictions.
Supporters have said that Whitmer’s COVID-19 response was necessary in order to protect the public as the virus surged.
Others, however, argued that the governor was a tyrant whose orders violated the state Constitution and hurt local businesses.
The Detroit News reported that the Michigan Republican Party was critical of Whitmer’s selection for the award, highlighting the fact that the state has led the country in the number of new COVID-19 cases per capita for more than a month, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Thousands of small businesses shut down, hundreds of thousands of children lost out on a proper education and millions of Michiganders had their livelihoods upended — not because of COVID — but because of Whitmer’s response,” said Ted Goodman, spokesman for the Michigan GOP, according to the outlet.
Michigan endured a surge of COVID-19 cases in April, which included its second-highest single-day total and its highest hospitalization rate since the beginning of the pandemic.
Totals have begun to drop again, however, as Michigan last week had its lowest average cases per day — 2,517 — since March, according to Fox News.
Upon being named an honoree, Whitmer said it was an honor to “accept this prestigious award on behalf of every Michigander who stepped up to help their family and community through the COVID-19 pandemic,” The Detroit News reported.
“We must all strive to live up to the call of public service put forward by President Kennedy decades ago and exemplified by the heroes on the front lines of this pandemic who are putting shots in arms and working tirelessly in schools, stores and hospitals statewide,” she continued.
Many on social media reacted negatively to the announcement.
This is a joke right? Late April fools? Whitmer did nothing but destroy our beautiful state! She continuously lies.. she kept us from traveling but she traveled damn near the entire pandemic!
— Conservative momma (@MadsMommy5713) May 5, 2021
Lololol SHE FAILED…. What a freakin joke…… Liberals rejoice, you are being celebrated for your failures again. Andrew Cuomo will be getting an award from dept on aging/AARP next. Joke
— Jason Binkley (@sburr11) May 4, 2021
This has to be satire
— WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot (@freedom_luvr) May 5, 2021
This makes a mockery of the very idea of “courage”. I notice the governor’s who showed real courage, such as Ron Desantis and Gregg Abbott, are missing. Instead we see a governor who ruled by decree and bypassed the people’s elected representatives, shame!
— CurtNorth (@BrackenrichCurt) May 4, 2021
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation started the Profile in Courage Award in 1989, aiming to honor the former president’s commitment and contribution to public service, according to its news release.
Dr. Amy Acton, former director of the Ohio health department, and Lauren Leander, an intensive care nurse in Arizona who cares for COVID-19 patients, are among the other recipients of the award.
Along with these seven recipients, the foundation will honor Utah Sen. Mitt Romney for “his historic vote to convict President Donald J. Trump in 2020, and his consistent and courageous defense of democracy,” it said in a news release.
“Despite facing unrelenting criticism and public antagonism following this vote, along with threats to his physical safety and demands that he be censured or expelled from the Republican party, Romney has continued to courageously defend the fundamental principles of democratic governance,” the foundation said of Romney.
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