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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke September 11, 2020

Photo of Biden and Whitmer was taken before COVID-19 cases emerged in Michigan

If Your Time is short

  • This photo was taken on March 9, before the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Michigan and more than a month before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer started requiring residents to wear face coverings. 

Recent Facebook posts use an out-of-context photo of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer meeting with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to wrongly accuse the politicians of double standards on COVID-19. 

The photo was taken in March, before the first cases of COVID-19 emerged in Michigan. But the angry posts make the event seem a lot more recent.

"While OUR children are being mandated to wear a mask while playing outdoor sports these hypocrites are at the Detroit Athletic Club yesterday maskless!" reads the description of an image that shows Biden and Whitmer standing in close proximity to other people and not wearing masks. "When will the sheeple wake up! This is ALL about control and it has to STOP."

"At the DAC in Detroit?," one account sharing the image said. "Where are their F#king Masks when the cameras are off? Whitmer and Biden you are pieces of and full of S---! EVERYONE REPOST THIS ASAP!"

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The photo was posted on Instagram on Sept. 9 by Dennis Archer Jr., the son of a former Detroit mayor who runs a marketing agency in the city.

"It was good to catch up with dear friend @joebiden @vdarcher earlier this year (pre Covid)," he wrote. 

Archer doesn’t say in the post when or where the photo was taken, but they’re at the Detroit Athletic Club, where Biden attended a fundraiser on March 9. 

Featured Fact-check

Biden and Whitmer are wearing the same outfits in that photo as they were photographed in during a campaign rally in Detroit that same day

"Before the rally, Biden attended a $1,000-per-person fundraiser at the Detroit Athletic Club, hosted by some of Michigan’s biggest political names: former Gov. Jim Blanchard, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit businessman Dennis Archer Jr.," the Detroit Free Press reported.

This was before the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Michigan, and well before the state required people to wear face coverings.

On March 10, the state’s department of health and human services identified the first two presumptive-positive COVID-19 cases in Michigan. Whitmer declared an emergency. 

The Athletic Club shut down on March 16. 

On April 24, more than a month after Biden’s campaign rally, Whitmer signed an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces.  

On Sept. 9, the same day that Archer posted the fundraiser photo from March, Whitmer signed an executive order requiring face coverings be worn by "athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in organized sports when the athlete cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance, except for occasional and fleeting moments." The order doesn’t apply to swimmers and athletes playing professional sports. 

We rate this Facebook post False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, Sept. 10, 2020

PolitiFact, No, this photo doesn’t show Gretchen Whitmer breaking social distancing rules, May 27, 2020

PolitiFact, Posters take old Biden campaign photos to falsely say campaign is violating mask rules, Aug. 19, 2020

Dennis Archer Jr. Instagram post, Sept. 9, 2020

Detroit Free Press, Detroit Crowd hopes ‘Joementum’ lasts through Election Day, March 9, 2020

Detroit Free Press, Gov. Whitmer signs executive order mandating face covering for organized sports, Sept. 9, 2020

Interview with Bob Allen, director of communications, Detroit Athletic Club, Sept. 11, 2020


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Photo of Biden and Whitmer was taken before COVID-19 cases emerged in Michigan

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