President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to a Ford Motor Co. plant in Ypsilanti on Thursday contradicts rules to combat the spread of coronavirus put in place by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, her office said Tuesday.
She won’t move to try to stop it, however.
“Ford and the UAW are doing incredible work for the country and their ingenuity will save lives,” Whitmer’s communications director, Zack Pohl, said in an email. “While the president’s visit is contrary to the governor’s order, this is an opportunity to showcase how important Michigan is to the response to COVID-19 and rebuilding our nation’s economy.”
On Sunday, Ford confirmed that the president would visit its Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, where workers are producing ventilators to help respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. Ford is working with GE Healthcare to help the Trump administration produce 100,000 ventilators by July 4.
Trump is visiting the plant to tout the work being done to respond to the crisis by Ford and other manufacturers.
Strictly speaking, the visit runs counter to an order put in place by Whitmer, including one signed Monday, which requires that businesses protect workers and others from catching or spreading the virus. Among other protocols, it says that “manufacturing facilities must … Suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours.”
Whitmer, a Democrat who has been talked about as a possible running mate for former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee to run against Trump in November, has not been invited to attend the event, her office said Monday in response to questions from reporters.
Whitmer and Trump have sparred on several occasions, with her criticizing the federal response to the pandemic and Trump suggesting her stay-at-home order is too strict and seemingly dismissing her as “that woman from Michigan.”
Meanwhile, there is another question as to whether the president plans to wear a mask or face covering during the visit to Ford’s facility, the details of which haven’t been released but where he is expected to deliver remarks.
Last week, Trump notably failed to wear a mask while visiting a Pennsylvania medical equipment factory which manufactures face masks, gloves and surgical gowns.
Whitmer’s orders, however, require face coverings in most cases, and Ford’s “Return to Work Manufacturing Playbook,” which lists requirements for those in its facilities, says, “Everyone is required to wear a Ford-provided face mask at all times upon entering the building.” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford has worn a mask as well when touring facilities.
Ford told the Free Press on Tuesday it has shared “all of Ford’s safety protocols, including our manufacturing playbook … with the White House ahead of time and in preparation for this trip,” but offered no guess as to whether the president plans to wear a face covering during his visit.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Trump said he might wear a mask at his visit.
“I will certainly look at it. It depends on what situation,” he said.
Contributing: Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press