U-M: Michigan’s strict public health measures likely saved lives during holidays

A face mask hangs on a Christmas tree. (Pixabay)

ANN ARBOR – Researchers at the University of Michigan said that the state’s “Pause to Save Lives” mandate in mid-November likely saved thousands of lives during the holiday season.

According to preliminary findings by the School of Public Health, the measures over Thanksgiving and Christmas might have prevented more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 across the state.

“Our modeling suggests that the state’s social distancing measures, although challenging for Michiganders, prevented illness and deaths, providing some relief to our already stretched health care system,” associate professor Marisa Eisenberg, who has been working with the state throughout the pandemic COVID-19 modeling and data analysis, said in a statement.

Using U-M modeling data for COVID-19, as well as data from the Michigan Disease Surveillance System, the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus database and the Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker, researchers found that between Nov. 15 and Jan. 8, approximately 109,000 coronavirus cases were prevented.

That translates to 2,800 lives saved based on the state’s fatality rate of 2.6%.

They also determined that government response measures, including closures, public health efforts and economic supports, had an impact on case prevention. States with a higher than average “government response index” more successfully curbed the spread of the virus.

Michigan had the lowest amount of coronavirus cases in the Midwest over the holiday season. Indiana had the highest number of cases and also had the lowest government response index.

“Michiganders have been doing their part in terms of maintaining social distancing and staying home, and those efforts have prevented illnesses and deaths across the state,” Eisenberg said in a statement.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.