Michigan and its Democratic Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, have been the epicenter of the U.S. national debate about whether and how fast to reopen economic activity in this CCP Virus era. And when you take a look at the state’s inspection patterns, it’s tough to avoid concluding that, although many of those protesting the various economic restrictions she’s ordered since the first Michigan cases were reported on March 10 blew it in terms of brandishing firearms, her virus economy policies have been way too indiscriminate. (Interestingly, claims that the protesters flagrantly ignored social distancing practices seem to have been exaggerated, at least in this key instance.)
No one can doubt that Michigan has a serious CCP Virus problem. Yet its predicament isn’t in the category of that being experienced in particular by New York and neighboring states whose counties comprise the New York City metropolitan area. As of this morning, Michigan ranks eleventh in the nation (including the District of Columbia) in virus cases per million population, and sixth in deaths per million.
But the statewide figures are far from the whole story. For instance, of Michigan’s 43,754 total virus cases as of today so far, the Detroit metropolitan area (comprising the city and three surrounding – and in the case of Wayne, overlapping, counties), accounts for 30,752. That’s just under 70 percent. That same Detroit area, though, represents only a little less than 39 percent of the state’s population. (The detailed Michigan virus data are found here, and the detailed Michigan population figures come from here and here.)
The situation with deaths shows an even greater disparity. The Detroit area’s 3,278 comprise nearly 81 percent of the state total.
Meanwhile, of Michigan’s 83 counties, 18 have registered ten or fewer virus cases, 49 have suffered five or fewer deaths, and 20 of those 49 have recorded no deaths.
Generally, of course, these lightly touched counties are among the state’s least populous. But that’s the point. Clearly, Michigan is a very heterogeneous state, and what’s good for Baraga and Luce counties, e.g. (one reported case and no deaths for each) isn’t good for Detroit or neighboring Macomb County. Whitmer backtracked a bit recently. Had she had recognized these vast differences sooner, she could have saved her constituents and herself a lot of grief. And the flaws in her pretty much all-or-nothing approach have plenty of lessons to teach other state and federal policymakers, too.