Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor
Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor

Michiganders are worried by new pandemic models suggesting the state is just now entering the eye of the storm. But Gov. Whitmer has a plan to address a second wave.

MICHIGAN — The state of Michigan reported only three coronavirus-related deaths Sunday. That marks the fewest daily deaths since March. 

Weekend reporting tends to run a little lower than reporting on business days, but this new milestone supports the emerging optimism that Michigan is through the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic. But Michiganders are concerned a second wave might loom in the near future. 

The Detroit Free Press reports that nearly 70% of Michiganders are concerned that a second wave of the pandemic is potentially in the cards as the state reengages. Already, the New York Times reports that sunbelt states like Florida and Arizona are seeing spikes in coronavirus cases. 

“COVID-19 is still very present,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said when announcing hair and nail salons would reopen. “I would love to keep kind of ratcheting up that engagement … but filling a stadium again probably won’t happen until we have a vaccine, and that’s gonna be a while.”

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To that end, Gov. Whitmer has designed an approach that she has characterized as “turning a dial, not flipping a switch” as it relates to the reengagement of Michigan’s economy. The plan, MI Safe Start, is heading into a new phase statewide with most businesses able to reopen under certain precautions. 

If things do start to get worse following the reengagement of the broader economy, Gov. Whitmer’s dial approach is designed to be flexible and responsive to that exact situation. 

Michigan’s case fatality rate, the number of coronavirus diagnoses that end in death related to the disease, remains far higher than the national average, and Detroit’s is higher still. Only 5.5% of national cases result in death, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but in Michigan that number is 9.6%, and in Detroit specifically the rate is 12.5% —  over double the national average. 

Given this high fatality rate and the risks posed by a second wave of the pandemic, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) announced a new model Thursday that found that Michigan could also have the fourth-highest death total by Oct. 1, reports WXYZ.

“We’re now able to look ahead and see where states need to begin planning for a second wave of COVID-19,” said IHME Director Christopher Murray. “We hope to see our model proven wrong by the swift actions governments and individuals take to reduce transmission.”

READ MORE: Gov. Whitmer Says Coronavirus Is a Civil Rights Issue. Here’s Why.

As The ‘Gander has noted, swift action from Gov. Whitmer contributed to the largely successful efforts to flatten the curve almost immediately, and a majority of Michiganders have supported her actions throughout the pandemic. 

“We have to reengage like a dial, not a switch that goes on or off, but a dial that we can turn,” she told reporters while announcing MI Safe Start. “We can continue to turn the intensity up if everyone does their part. We have to remember the threat of a second wave is very real.”

But, she noted, the dial can be turned backward if the situation necessitates, disengaging in phases what we reengaged in phases to tailor our solution to the scope of the problem.