News Story

‘Best Science’ Murky, But Inconsistent State Responses To Real COVID Data Seems Clear

Different daily positive test numbers bring different response now vs. last year

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and officials in her administration have asserted that their responses to the COVID-19 epidemic were informed by the best science.

But it’s not always clear how their actions have been informed by the best data.

In the controversial emergency order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 5, 2020, then-Director Robert Gordon offered that “nearly 1,000 new cases have been reported per day” was the reason for a statewide mask mandate and ban on gatherings. He did this three days after the state Supreme Court had invalidated the governor’s authority to issue a very similar order under a 1945 anti-riot law.

That was nearly a year ago. As of Sept. 26, 2021, the latest data shows Michigan’s newly reported COVID cases have exceeded that 1,000-per-day rate since Aug. 4, 2021. There were 3,544 new cases reported on Sept. 24, according to

Here were the statistics when the state health department issued its first statewide emergency order on Oct. 5, 2020:

7-day average test positivity rate: 3.5%

7-day average cases per million: 111

7-day average daily deaths: 14

Here are those same statistics as of Sept. 15, 2021:

7-day average test positivity rate: 9.3%

7-day average cases per million: 247

7-day average daily deaths: 26

The COVID-19 data come from the state of Michigan’s COVID-tracking website.

“I continue to watch our case rates every day. We’re seeing somewhat of an increase, but at this point nothing is indicative of a spike that I think would require any sort of action,” said current health department director Elizabeth Hertel on Sept. 24, according to Gongwer News Service. “But that’s today. And again, I continue to watch these very closely, as you would imagine. And I can't predict the future.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.