News Story

Whitmer Blames More Cases On Supreme Court Ruling, But Case Counts Up All Over

That 'Michigan supremes did it' narrative won't fly

At an Oct. 21 press conference, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pointed to the state Supreme Court ruling that ended her ongoing governance-by-executive-order as one reason COVID-19 cases have been on the rise here.

Pointing to a case-count chart at the press conference, Whitmer insinuated that the rise began when “the supreme court issued their ruling,” adding that cases have been on the rise “since then.”

This speculation is not supported by the facts. A case-tracking website maintained by this state clearly shows that cases here had been on the rise for weeks before the Oct. 2 court ruling.

For the two month period between July 10 to Sept. 11 the number of cases per million was steady, ranging from 68.4 on July 10 to 69.4 on Sept. 11. At that point daily new cases began to rise. By Sept. 21, new cases per million had increased to 78.8. On Oct. 2, when the state Supreme Court released its ruling, the statewide case frequency rate had reached 98.9 per million. As of Oct. 15 the new case rate in Michigan was 150.0 per million.

The Supreme Court’s ruling came out on a Friday afternoon, and meant Whitmer’s virus-related executive order mandates and restrictions could no longer be enforced. But on Monday, the old mandates and restrictions were replaced by a new and essentially identical set, imposed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, citing authority it claims from a 1978 Public Health Code law.

Moreover, during the two days between the old rules ended and the new ones went into effect, it was not clear whether Whitmer’s executive orders were still in force or not. The governor herself immediately claimed her executive orders remained in effect for an additional 21-day period, which no authoritative voice rebutted over that weekend. On the third day the new versions of the same rules went into effect. Whitmer has not offered any other explanation for the increase.

Most significant, the current increase in new COVID cases is not happening in Michigan alone. Over this same period a “second wave” of the epidemic has been underway around the world and nation. According to, there were 52,241 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on Oct. 2. By Oct. 23, there were 81,418 new coronavirus cases in the U.S., an increase of 56% over that 21 day period. The good news is that it's been less deadly than the first wave last spring, with dramatically fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

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.