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Whitmer downplays MDHHS director’s spring break trip

Hertel is fully vaccinated.
MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer(WILX)
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 7:35 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is downplaying the decision by the leader of the state health department to go on a spring break trip to Alabama.

News 10 learned Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel went on vacation despite the governor expressing concern about Michiganders traveling out of state.

Hertel is fully vaccinated and confirmed she was on a family vacation in Gulf Shores where they followed strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

She said her family wore masks and stayed in their own condo unit. Her husband and children separated at least six feet from others while at the beach. She stated the family drove to their destination in about 18 hours without making any stops at a hotel and went through the drive-thrus for any meals.

They were tested after they returned to Michigan.

Hertel was asked what has changed to make travel more acceptable now, as COVID-19 numbers are hitting some of their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

”We know now the things that work in lessening the risk of acquiring COVID-19,” she said. “Wearing masks. Social distancing. Washing hands. Vaccinating. Staying away from large gatherings. Continuing to do those things has kept us safe.”

Regarding her taking a break while the state is experiencing some of its highest case totals since late November, Hertel said: “I was working the whole time. I worked every day no matter what was happening. I had my phone. It wasn’t much of a break for me.”

“I’m not going to get distracted by partisan hit jobs on my team,” said Gov. Whitmer. “There have never been travel restrictions in Michigan. What directors do on their personal time is their business so long as they are safe which is what we’re asking everyone in the state to do.”

The state health department recommends getting tested one to three days before traveling and then again five days after returning. They also say travelers should quarantine at home for ten days or until getting their second test results back.

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