Infographic by Tania Lili Infographic by Tania Lili

With extreme political pressure to rapidly return to economic activity, projections for the future of the pandemic may see another sharp shift in May.

MICHIGAN — Following a dramatic day in Lansing on Thursday, Michigan reports daily deaths of 77 and 977 new confirmed infections related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

As The ‘Gander reported, mass protesting in Lansing might set the stage for a second wave of the coronavirus in several weeks. At the same time, businesses that have a high risk of spreading the virus will be closed through May 28, The ‘Gander also reported

Political tensions like this make the future of the pandemic exceedingly hard to predict. And the impact of the protests in Lansing in April might not be measurable for weeks as any potential spread of the virus from those events incubates. Especially as Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature makes moves to scale back protections put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that have been instrumental in slowing the progress of the disease. 

That unsteady political environment contrasts with actually fairly steady rates of the coronavirus’ spread. While a steadying of the rate of pandemic growth this week is a good sign for Michigan’s ability to manage the pandemic in the future, it’s hard to know if that steadying will last. 

As of Friday, 42,356 Michiganders have confirmed coronavirus infections, and 3,866 have died. Those numbers represent a continued steadying both of day-over-day numbers and the Case Fatality Rate holding steady at 9.1%.

But those shifting political realities put the future stability of those numbers in question.

According to the daily update from the state, the county-level breakdown is as follows:

  • Alcona: 4 (1 death)
  • Allegan: 104 (2 deaths)  
  • Alpena: 82 (6 deaths)
  • Antrim: 10 
  • Arenac:26 (1 death)  
  • Barry: 36 (1 death)
  • Bay: 150 (6 deaths)
  • Benzie: 4
  • Berrien: 263 (15 deaths)
  • Branch: 64 (2 deaths)
  • Calhoun: 231 (15 deaths)
  • Cass: 30 (2 deaths)
  • Charlevoix: 13 (1 death)
  • Cheboygan: 19 (1 death)
  • Chippewa: 2
  • Clare: 11 (1 death)
  • Clinton: 118 (9 deaths)
  • Crawford: 53 (4 death)
  • Delta: 13 (2 deaths)
  • Dickinson: 3 (2 deaths)
  • Eaton: 133 (6 deaths)
  • Emmet: 21 (2 deaths)
  • Genesee: 1,600 (192 deaths)
  • Gladwin: 16 (1 death)
  • Gogebic: 4 (1 death)
  • Grand Traverse: 19 (5 deaths)
  • Gratiot: 21 (1 death)
  • Hillsdale: 127 (17 deaths)
  • Houghton 2
  • Huron: 19
  • Ingham: 483 (12 deaths)
  • Ionia: 80 (2 deaths)
  • Iosco: 51 (7 death)
  • Isabella: 60 (7 deaths)
  • Jackson: 381 (22 deaths)
  • Kalamazoo: 405 (18 deaths)
  • Kalkaska: 17 (2 deaths)
  • Kent: 1,600 (36 deaths)
  • Lake: 2
  • Lapeer: 171 (25 deaths)
  • Leelanau: 9
  • Lenawee: 98 (2 deaths)
  • Livingston: 343 (19 deaths)
  • Luce: 1
  • Mackinac: 6
  • Macomb: 5,623 (614 deaths)
  • Manistee: 11
  • Marquette: 50 (8 deaths)
  • Mason:10
  • Mecosta: 14 (1 death)
  • Menominee: 5
  • Midland: 60 (6 deaths)
  • Missaukee: 16 (1 death)
  • Monroe: 296 (12 deaths)
  • Montcalm: 40 (1 death)
  • Montmorency: 5
  • Muskegon: 288 (17 deaths)
  • Newaygo: 24
  • Oakland: 7,423 (705 deaths)
  • Oceana: 11 (1 death)
  • Ogemaw: 14
  • Osceola: 8
  • Oscoda: 5 
  • Otsego: 92 (8 deaths)
  • Ottawa: 254 (11 deaths)
  • Presque Isle: 11
  • Roscommon: 16
  • Saginaw: 684 (63 deaths)
  • Sanilac: 36 (5 deaths)
  • Schoolcraft: 3
  • Shiawassee: 183 (12 deaths)
  • St Clair: 331 (21 deaths) 
  • St Joseph: 33 (1 death)
  • Tuscola: 106 (14 deaths)
  • Van Buren: 54 (2 deaths)
  • Washtenaw: 1,091 (66 deaths)
  • Wayne: 16,970 (1,782 deaths) (Detroit alone has 9,162 cases and 1,802 deaths)
  • Wexford: 9 (2 deaths)
  • Michigan Department of Corrections: 1,560 (42 deaths)
  • Federal Corrections Institute: 90 (2 deaths)
  • Out of State: 8

Total: 42,356 cases, 3,866 deaths

But with the future of coronavirus protections in Michigan in question, projecting the future course of the pandemic is exceedingly difficult. 

Seeing the fluctuation of national projections on how the pandemic will play out can often be frustrating, especially as political actors present starkly different solutions often backed by their own sets of data.

Projections for how the pandemic will play out are still in flux. Both the changing political realities represented by moves to quickly jump-start economic activity in various states and the uncertain timetable for effective treatments for the virus have the overall estimates of how many infections and deaths are yet to come changing frequently.

As women’s health and wellness magazine Self reports, modeling a new disease statistically to project its outcomes is a tall order in the best of situations, and those models are designed to change and evolve. And the ways we interact with the disease change what is likely to happen. By engaging in the prevention policies and flattening the curve in April, long-term models were changed. Scaling those policies back will change those models again.

And the data those models are based on isn’t always accurate, Self notes. A lack of testing early in the pandemic has led to only the most severe cases being counted, as The ‘Gander noted in our explanation of Case Fatality Rate. And it can take time for states to check their data and make sure counts are accurate. 

Worse, not all statistical models are based on the same variables, or weigh different variables the same way, creating an environment where comparing two different models used for different purposes can be like comparing apples and oranges. Ultimately, like most data about the pandemic, seeing how numbers change over time can be a clearer picture than seeing any single model. 
As for today, CNN reports 1,082,411 confirmed cases of the coronavirus nationally, and 63,127 deaths.