News Story

Experts Have Answers For Michigan’s COVID Spike, But Nothing Definite

As the state of Michigan has suffered through a third wave of COVID-19 cases that are at peak levels, other states with far fewer government restrictions are faring much better.

Florida, for example, which has opened schools and businesses and has no statewide face mask mandate, has far fewer new cases.

Public health experts don’t seem to have a good answer for why cases have been rising more in Michigan than in neighboring states — and significantly so — for several weeks running. For instance, in a Detroit News story, health experts tried to explain what is happening in Michigan.

Ryan Malosh, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said, “It’s hard to say for sure whether that is due to lifting restrictions or people feeling less at risk as vaccines are rolled out. As with everything, it’s probably a combination. Basically, we’re in a perfect storm for increasing cases.”

This possibility, though, does not explain why Michigan is being affected, rather than states that have lifted restrictions.

One expert suggested public reluctance to follow the expectations of public officials.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security, said, “You’ve had a lot of protests there regarding the governor’s orders, and I wonder if that fuels a lot of defiance in the population so that they’re more likely to take risks.”

Michigan has not been the only state to see public protests. They’ve happened in Wisconsin, for example. Why haven’t cases been rising there?

Dr. Aaron Wendelboe, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, said, “Other large states like New York and Michigan that took COVID seriously, you did a good job preventing further disease, so you have a larger susceptible population.”

Some states, such as California and Washington, have had similar restrictions as Michigan. Following this logic, they should have similarly susceptible populations. But cases have not risen there, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.