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ICYMI: MLive: Is the coronavirus surge elsewhere a vindication of Michigan's go-slow approach to reopening?


August 13, 2020 



ICYMI: MLiveIs the coronavirus surge elsewhere a vindication of Michigan’s go-slow approach to reopening? 

Good Morning! We wanted to make sure you saw this story from MLive reporter Julie Mack, which takes a look at how Michigan’response compares to states that closed late and opened quickly. She reports on both the public health outcomes and economic impacts of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders 


  • Conservatives were vocal in suggesting Whitmer needed to be more like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in making a speedy return to normalcy. 

But three months later, it looks like Whitmer’s hardline approach may be paying off.  

“We’re seeing states that closed late and opened soon are now having much bigger surges of coronavirus,” said Charles Ballard, a Michigan State University economist. “That strongly suggests the policy of trying to be really careful has paid dividends, both in terms of arresting coronavirus and in allowing us to reopen the economy.  

“What I see in many Southern and Western states is they were gung-ho to reopen, and now they have outbreaks,” he said. “They’re seeing that you really can’t have a successful reopening of the economy unless you control the virus.” 

The numbers speak for themselves, economists and health experts say. 

Michigan also has the best numbers in the Upper Midwest in terms of controlling the spread of COVID-19 this summer. Despite worries about rising cases number in July, Michigan’s average infection rate for last month was half that of Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin. 

  • For all the criticism, public-health experts say that Whitmer’s actions were largely successful in driving down the coronavirus case numbers, especially in metro Detroit, and in stemming the spread to other parts of the state.
  • Skrzynski agreed. “We were on this pretty steep, exponential rise, and the shutdown is what prevented us from spiraling out of control,” he said. “A lot of people were chafing against that, but at the same time, that’s what saved us.” 
  • Closer to Michigan, numbers also began to surge in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, with those states setting new records in daily cases. 

Health experts credit Michigan’s stricter rules -- the mask mandate, the ban on indoor service in bars, keeping gyms closed, among other measures -- in avoiding a similar fate this summer. In fact, it’s telling that Michigan’s border counties are among those that have struggled the most with coronavirus this summer. 

  • “Small shifts to reopen the economy prematurely risk reigniting the virus yielding a massive economic and health cost, for only a very minor economic benefit,” [U-M economist Justin Wolfers] said. “There’s no question that the current outbreaks reflect bad public health choices in a bunch of states, and rather than stimulating economic growth, this has caused it to stall and even go into reverse.” 

To view the full article click here