COVID growing faster in Michigan than anywhere in the U.S.
The rate of new COVID-19 infections is growing faster in Michigan than anywhere else in the country. The daily average jumped 60% in just the past week – to nearly 4,000 new cases per day as of Saturday.
That’s a concerning state of affairs and has prompted officials to put a renewed focus on adhering to COVID safety protocols. Yet, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said state health leaders aren’t considering any new restrictions.
Experts aren’t quite sure why infection rates are rising so dramatically, but they have some guesses.
New variants of the coronavirus are sweeping through the state. Overwhelmingly, these new variants are more contagious than dominant strains of the virus. That may be leading to outbreaks that are pushing up the state’s infection numbers.
As of Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 1,237 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in Michigan. That’s the second highest number of variants in the country, behind Florida.
Even worse, health experts say the spread of variants is likely to be much higher than the confirmed number due to community spread and inadequate tracking.
Loosened rules and COVID fatigue
State leaders have been loosening restrictions on various aspects of life in Michigan since February. It started with restaurants reopening for dine-in customers on February 1. From there, restaurants were permitted to expand their dine-in capacity from 25% to 50% at the beginning of March.
Along with that, Governor Whitmer has been pushing for schools to return to in-person learning. That has combined with the return of school sports – events that have contributed to a rise in COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the state.
Those attempts to return to normal life are providing more opportunities for the coronavirus to spread. But residents’ own behaviors are also contributing to the problem.
Michiganders are tired of COVID-19 restrictions. A year of social isolation has given way to increasingly risky activities – things like eating out in public and gathering with groups of friends and family.
There is one more theory that has been mentioned by some in the medical community: Michigan may be suffering from its own successes in fighting COVID-19.
For most of the pandemic, Michigan has fared better than many states in keeping the coronavirus from spreading. That’s thanks to aggressive efforts to avoid gatherings and wear masks.
Michigan has had one of the lowest overall infection rates per 100,000 people. In December, the state’s low case rate was better than all but 7 other states.
However, that could mean that Michigan is finally starting to catch up with the rest of the country in terms of overall infection numbers.
You can read more on Bridge Michigan.
Independent journalism is essential to a healthy democracy. Make a donation today.