Kelly Stafford, the wife of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, took to Instagram on Thursday to call Michigan a “dictatorship” in response to new wide-ranging restrictions announced this week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to try to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stafford later apologized.
The new policies announced Sunday temporarily halt in-person instruction at high schools and colleges, indoor dine-in service at restaurants and bars, and high school athletics as well as close some businesses, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and casinos.
The restrictions, imposed through a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order, took effect Wednesday and will be in place until Dec. 8, as the governor described it as the “worst moment” yet of the pandemic.
On Thursday, Michigan added 7,592 more coronavirus cases and 134 deaths, including 61 that were identified during a delayed records review. Michigan shattered its weekly coronavirus case record last week with a total of 44,019 new cases reported, the fifth consecutive record week for confirmed infections.
“I’m so over it,” Stafford said in a string of Instagram videos earlier on Thursday. “I’m so over living in a dictatorship that we call Michigan. I understand there’s a pandemic, and I understand it’s very scary. I’m scared of it, too. If you are at risk, do not leave your house until there’s a vaccine.
“But, shutting down all these small businesses, things that people have worked their life for, shutting them down again is not the answer, because they will not make it, so once we are able to leave our house, once this dictatorship decides to let us have some freedom, there will be nothing left. I’m just over it. I see all these people, and it brings me, like, to tears. …”
Stafford said at the time she knew everyone wouldn’t agree with her, but “this is my opinion. You have yours, everyone has their own,” before apologizing in a video posted later, saying Michigan was a “dictatorship” was “probably the not so smart use of words.”
“All right, y’all, here’s what I do best,” she said, “coming back to apologize, after I read some of your things and I get grounded a little bit. I’m really sorry. I was in the heat of the moment. I have a friend losing their business, and it’s just getting to me a little bit, so I apologize for calling it a dictatorship.
“I just want it to work for everybody, and I know it’s not going to work for everybody, and it just kills me to see people suffer from financial burden, from losing their business and also from getting sick. … I apologize.”
She added in another Instagram post that “I love Michigan and the people here … Don’t get that twisted in this. This place was my rock during my tough times.”
In April 2019, Stafford had a 12-hour surgical procedure to remove a benign brain tumor called acoustic neuroma. The duration of the procedure, initially planned to last six hours at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, doubled because of complications the doctors encountered during surgery. She said she had to learn how to walk again.
As of Thursday, the state has had a total of 285,398 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 8,324 deaths since the virus was first detected in Michigan in March, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.