Why are Covid-19 cases and deaths increasing at a higher rate in Michigan than other states?

As of 8 A.M. on Friday, April 17th 2020, Michigan has 29,263 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 2,093 deaths according to data from worldometers.info.  Michigan has 3 times more cases than both Indiana and Ohio and more deaths than Indiana, Illinois and Ohio combined.

When trying to make sense of the huge gap between Michigan and nearby states you might think it's a matter of population.  Sure, Michigan has 3,000 more residents than Indiana.  However, with a population of nearly 10 million people, Michigan has far less people than Illinois (12.67 million) and Ohio (11.69 million.)

The problem is so bad on the East side of the state, according to the New York Post, that Oakland County is "scouting ice rinks" to store bodies.

During a press conference Monday, Governor Whitmer said the Covid-19 curve was starting to flatten.  We did see low numbers on Easter Sunday.  However, as you can see on the graph below from infogram.com showing daily confirmed cases, Michigan is nearly going straight up, not flattening.


The next thought is, maybe Michigan is testing more people than other states resulting in more confirmed cases.  That would be nice if that were the case.  But unfortunately, the numbers are going in the wrong direction here too.

Illinois has processed 122,589 tests (25,733 cases and 1,073 dead)
Michigan has processed 94,286 tests (29,263 cases and 2,093 dead)
Ohio has processed 74,840 tests (8,414 cases and 407 dead)
Indiana has processed 51,115 tests (9,549 cases and 480 dead)

A recent Mlive story suggest these possible reasons that "Michigan has four times more coronavirus cases than Ohio,"

1. Metro Detroit has an international airport and a business community with an unusual amount of international travel.

2. Michigan has a more concentrated urban population than Ohio.

3. Michigan’s March 10 primary election

4. Michigan has more concentrated poverty.

5. Ohio was especially aggressive in shutting down.

6. Michigan has tested more people.

Mlive goes into far more detail on each of those points.  You can read more by clicking here. However, that last item, "Michigan has tested more people" is true for Ohio and Indiana.  However, Michigan is currently #11 in the nation in testing yet is #4 in confirmed cases and #3 in number of deaths.

I would like to suggest the addition of the following:

#1. The lack of testing early and often has put Michigan behind the 8 ball.  Tracking down covid-19 cases and the people that infected people have been in contact with is crucial to stopping the spread.

#2. Michigan residents are resisting the stay home executive order in a way that no other state is experiencing.  In fact, the mitten state has become a not so funny meme on social media that Ohioans are sharing like crazy.

Getty Images

As citizens, we can't force the state to come up with more resources and speed up testing.  I'm sure they're doing their best.  What we can do is very simple.  Stay home, wash your hands and respect social distancing.  Let's also do what we can to support our health workers putting themselves and their families at risk for us.

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