Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

Michigan is abandoning social distancing faster than any other state according to data reported by the New York Times.

ST. CLAIR, MI — In Joseph B. Klecha Little League Park in suburban St. Clair this month, a baseball game ignores social distancing and it happens inside a park closed down during the pandemic. 

The typically normal and enjoyable afternoon activity highlights the next big challenge for Michiganders riding out the pandemic: maintaining social distancing as we brace for a heat wave during spring’s official arrival. 

RELATED: A Heatwave Is Coming To Michigan. Here Are 8 Ways To Actually Enjoy It — Social Distancing Style, Of Course

Data from the New York Times shows Michiganders are breaking out of quarantine at an accelerated pace right now. Data aggregated from millions of cell phone users’ movements shows that Michigan is one of, if not the fastest growing areas of people resuming activity already – and not because protections have been lifted. 

This creates problems like when an overcrowding of traffic closed down Belle Isle just a couple weekends ago, when Metro Detroit saw its first spring-like weekend. 

Most of Michigan showed a 10-point drop or higher in sampled users staying at home. 

Because of the incubation period of the coronavirus, it could take weeks to know if Michiganders emerging from our social distancing hibernation through March and April was premature, but it can be hard to curb Michigander’s enthusiasm for warming weather in Michigan. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus Two Months In: What Michigan Has Overcome — And What Lies Ahead

What makes Michigan’s place in the Times’ dataset more surprising, though, was how good Michiganders were at social distancing early in the pandemic, as The ‘Gander reported. Michigan got an A-rating from Uncast in March, compared to the B-rating of the country as a whole. And that distancing worked. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders, born of an effort to codify social distancing as policy, have absolutely saved lives. That was the position John Fox, CEO of Beaumont Health, took in an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press

“Back on March 25, we were in a dire situation,” Fox wrote. “We got to see firsthand the ferocity and speed of this pandemic as well as the damage it can do to patients and the related loss of human life. We are all now appropriately focusing on how we control the pandemic more effectively going forward and thus enabling the safe return to work across our communities.”

UP NEXT: One Michigan Man Is Defying Orders With a ‘Take Yourself To Work Day’ During the Pandemic

Michigan is walking a tightrope toward re-engagement. While the day-over-day growth in the number of cases has slowed dramatically and stabilized, the case fatality rate (CFR) in Michigan — the percent of cases that have led to death — remains far higher than the national average and one of the highest in the nation. 

Controlling the second wave that is probably inevitable will be critical work in the months ahead. Social distancing is an important tool in that work. 

Based on numbers from NPR, 1,390,612 Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 84,133 have died. That gives the national average CFR as 6%. Michigan’s is 9.7%, while Detroit in specific has a CFR of 12%. All those numbers have trended upward since The ‘Gander began monitoring them in April, despite increases in testing that should identify less severe cases

A major spike in confirmed cases did helped reduce Michigan’s CFR slightly (though by such a small amount rounding rendered it irrelevant) Thursday. With 1,191 new cases, the total diagnosed coronavirus patients in Michigan has reached 49,582. Daily deaths only rose by 38 with an additional 35 previously unreported deaths added to the Michigan Disease Surveillance System. Michigan’s total death toll is 4,787.

Detroit’s CFR also fell slightly, but remained rounded off to just above 12%. Detroit also reached another grim milestone, surpassing 10,000 confirmed cases. One out of every five infected Michiganders is in Detroit.

SEE ALSO: Pulling Permits: What to Do About Michigan Businesses Defying Whitmer’s Pandemic Orders

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

  • Alcona: 5 (1 death)
  • Allegan: 168 (2 deaths)  
  • Alpena: 88 (8 deaths)
  • Antrim: 10 
  • Arenac:29 (1 death)  
  • Baraga: 1
  • Barry: 58 (1 death)
  • Bay: 226 (12 deaths)
  • Benzie: 4
  • Berrien: 470 (27 deaths)
  • Branch: 90 (2 deaths)
  • Calhoun: 286 (18 deaths)
  • Cass: 46 (2 deaths)
  • Charlevoix: 13 (1 death)
  • Cheboygan: 19 (1 death)
  • Chippewa: 2
  • Clare: 14 (2 deaths)
  • Clinton: 129 (10 deaths)
  • Crawford: 57 (4 death)
  • Delta: 14 (2 deaths)
  • Dickinson: 5 (2 deaths)
  • Eaton: 161 (6 deaths)
  • Emmet: 21 (2 deaths)
  • Genesee: 1,813 (228 deaths)
  • Gladwin: 17 (1 death)
  • Gogebic: 4 (1 death)
  • Grand Traverse: 23 (5 deaths)
  • Gratiot: 35 (4 deaths)
  • Hillsdale: 155 (22 deaths)
  • Houghton 2
  • Huron: 39 (1 death)
  • Ingham: 619 (19 deaths)
  • Ionia: 114 (3 deaths)
  • Iosco: 56 (8 deaths)
  • Isabella: 62 (7 deaths)
  • Jackson: 411 (26 deaths)
  • Kalamazoo: 669 (40 deaths)
  • Kalkaska: 17 (2 deaths)
  • Kent: 2,627 (48 deaths)
  • Lake: 2
  • Lapeer: 176 (30 deaths)
  • Leelanau: 10
  • Lenawee: 132 (3 deaths)
  • Livingston: 380 (23 deaths)
  • Luce: 1
  • Mackinac: 6
  • Macomb: 6,232 (728 deaths)
  • Manistee: 11
  • Marquette: 51 (10 deaths)
  • Mason:23
  • Mecosta: 17 (2 deaths)
  • Menominee: 7
  • Midland: 67 (8 deaths)
  • Missaukee: 16 (1 death)
  • Monroe: 415 (18 deaths)
  • Montcalm: 52 (1 death)
  • Montmorency: 5
  • Muskegon: 435 (21 deaths)
  • Newaygo: 38
  • Oakland: 7,952 (888 deaths)
  • Oceana: 44 (2 deaths)
  • Ogemaw: 16
  • Osceola: 9
  • Oscoda: 5 (1 death)
  • Otsego: 98 (10 deaths)
  • Ottawa: 483 (23 deaths)
  • Presque Isle: 11
  • Roscommon: 20
  • Saginaw: 866 (93 deaths)
  • Sanilac: 38 (5 deaths)
  • Schoolcraft: 4
  • Shiawassee: 219 (19 deaths)
  • St Clair: 394 (28 deaths) 
  • St Joseph: 79 (1 death)
  • Tuscola: 163 (17 deaths)
  • Van Buren: 100 (5 deaths)
  • Washtenaw: 1,231 (86 deaths)
  • Wayne: 18,770 (2,183 deaths) (Detroit alone has 10,164 cases and 1,236 deaths)
  • Wexford: 11 (2 deaths)
  • Michigan Department of Corrections: 2,175 (56 deaths)
  • Federal Corrections Institute: 115 (3 deaths)
  • Unknown 35 (1 death)
  • Out of State 93

Total: 49,582 cases, 4,787 deaths