Why do some Michiganders ignore COVID-19 orders despite rising cases? Gov. Whitmer responds

Whitmer cites pandemic fatigue, contradicting governmental messages

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked Thursday why she thinks some residents ignore COVID-19 safety orders despite the rising number of cases in the state.

She mentioned a couple of factors at play: pandemic fatigue and contradicting messages from the government.

READ: How COVID-19 is spreading in all 8 regions as Michigan’s statewide case rate soars

“Part of the theory is that people are tired,” Whitmer said. “We’re all tired of wearing masks. We are all tired of dealing with COVID-19, and yet, ignoring the problem is making it worse.”

During Thursday’s press briefing, Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, of MDHHS, revealed a statewide case rate of 261 per million people per day. The state reported 4,101 new cases Wednesday, which was by far the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

As cases rise, more deaths and hospitalizations have followed.

Whitmer said even though most Michiganders are tired of mask wearing, social distancing and other precautions, the problem isn’t going to go away on its own.

“I think fatigue is a part of it,” Whitmer said. “I think the political rhetoric has created a lot of confusion and unnecessary suspicion around the efficacy of masks."

But what it boils down to, according to Whitmer, is everyone doing their role to control the spread of the virus.

“Every one of us needs to live up to that role,” she said.

Michigan COVID-19 numbers rising

Khaldun said the state’s case rate has risen to 261 cases per million people per day, which is more than five times the number of new daily cases than in early September.

A chart shared during Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

Some of that increase is due to testing, as Michigan performed 43,000 diagnostic tests per day over the last week. The positivity rate is increasing rapidly, though, and is now at 7.5%. That percentage has increased each of the last five weeks, Khaldun said.

Regional trends

The region with the highest case rate is the Upper Peninsula, which is reporting 509 cases per million people per day. Khaldun said the region’s case rate has been increasing for nine straight weeks.

In the Grand Rapids Region, officials are reporting 370 cases per million people per day. The Kalamazoo Region is reporting 331 cases per million people per day. Both regions have their highest test positivity rate, at over 9%, Khaldun said.

The Detroit, Saginaw, Lansing and Traverse City regions are all reporting more than 200 positive cases per million people per day, according to Khaldun. She said these four regions are all between 5.5% and 7.7% positivity.

The Jackson Region is seeing the lowest case rate at 193 cases per million people per day, as well as the lowest positivity rate, at 4.1%.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalization in the state has been increasing, and as of Wednesday (Nov. 4), more than 1,900 people statewide were in the hospital because of COVID-19. That’s nearly four times as many hospitalizations in the state as the end of August, Khaldun said.

Hospitalization numbers aren’t as alarming as they were in the spring, but they’re rapidly rising, she said. About 60% of those hospitalizations are outside of Southeast Michigan.

The seven-day average for deaths is up to 19, which is twice what it was at the end of September, according to Khaldun.

A chart shared during Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)
A chart shared during Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

About the Author:

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.