News Story

No Evidence Michigan Supreme Court Case Led to Spike in COVID

Cases were already rising and began spiking everywhere

After the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 2 that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic executive orders were unlawful and unconstitutional, state officials and some in the media began linking the case to a rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths weeks later. But there is little or no evidence that the court case led to the spike in COVID-19.

WXMI-TV anchor Ryan Cummings in Grand Rapids, for example, posted on Twitter on Nov. 12: “41 days ago the #Michigan Supreme Court ruled against @GovWhitmer and her executive orders related to #COVID. There were 126,358 confirmed cases on that day for the entire *year*. We are now at 236,225. Nearly double since the ruling.”

The claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It’s been repeated by Whitmer as well as University of Michigan regent Jordan Acker, who used a tweet to call the justices who ruled against the governor stooges.

Cases were already rising

On Friday, Oct. 2, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling, the state was averaging 99.2 new cases per day. (The state uses a seven-day average to measure the spread of the coronavirus.)

On Sept. 9, the state averaged 69.1 new cases per day, meaning it was already in the midst of a spike in new cases, according to

People are still wearing masks

There is no evidence that when Whitmer’s executive orders were deemed unconstitutional, there was any considerable movement to stop wearing face masks.

Numerous polls have shown that the vast majority of Americans support wearing face masks, which has been the biggest tool used in this state to combat COVID-19.

A survey conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Slickdeals was released Nov. 2 found that 83% of Americans said they always wear a mask when in public, whether it was a law or not. In Michigan, the OnePoll survey found 84% of residents said they’d wear a face mask in public, whether it was mandated or not. This is up 12 points from September, when 72% of Michigan residents said they always wear a mask in public.

The governor immediately put into place similar rules

Within hours of the ruling, media outlets such as MLive posted stories that quoted Whitmer as saying her executive orders were still in effect for another 21 days despite the high court’s ruling.

And by Monday – just three days later – the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services used a 1978 law to issue its own directives, which put virtually all of Whitmer’s orders back into effect.

There was a spike in cases across the Midwest and the nation

If the state Supreme Court ruling truly did lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, the Great Lakes State would have experienced a spike in cases greater than that seen in surrounding states. That did not happen.

Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Minnesota are – just like Michigan – experiencing record levels of new cases of COVID-19 since Oct. 2.

And that is captured in the national trend, which mirrors what Michigan is experiencing.

The U.S. had 52,358 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 2, the day of the Michigan Supreme Court ruling. On Nov. 13, the county hit a peak of 187,957 new cases – more than three times the number of cases on Oct. 2.

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.