This year, as the omicron variant surges, the governor will again deliver the speech remotely instead of in-person. And it will almost certainly focus largely on her administration’s response to COVID-19.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fourth State of the State address will take place Jan. 26. This is the second year in a row she will deliver the speech remotely due to COVID-19.

The announcement was made via a joint statement issued by Whitmer and House Speaker Jason Wentworth:

“The State of the State address is a tradition rooted in history. It is an opportunity for Michiganders to hear about the work of state government and see Republicans and Democrats come together to focus on the issues that will put Michigan families, communities, and small businesses first. This year, we’ve agreed that the State of the State address should once again be held remotely to ensure everyone can safely partake in this time-honored event.”

The speech is typically delivered to a joint session of the Legislature in the 5,250-square-foot House chamber as it is packed with lawmakers, cabinet members and invited guests. But last year, the governor delivered the speech from her office in the state Capitol. This year, as the omicron variant surges, the governor will again deliver the speech remotely instead of in-person. And it will almost certainly focus largely on her administration’s response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 has struck the governor’s inner circle in recent weeks. Her husband, Marc Mallory, tested positive last week, while Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist announced over the weekend that he also tested positive.

The address will take place with the 2022 elections – and Whitmer’s expected reelection campaign – looming. Last year, she fought with the GOP-controlled Legislature over her use of emergency powers to combat the spread of COVID-19. but found common ground on business incentives. Dealmaking is trickier in an election year.

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