COVID-19 testing: Where Michigan ranks compared to other states

U.S. lags far behind in testing rate

CDC's laboratory test kit for the 2019 novel coronavirus. (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

DETROIT – By all statistical indications, Michigan’s coronavirus (COVID-19) testing is lagging behind where it should be.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state health officials have been pushing for increased testing capacity in recent weeks, as it will be key to the reopening of any businesses in the coming weeks.

While Michigan’s overall tests continue to increase, the rate of testing compared to the population isn’t increasing rapidly.

Related: Gov. Whitmer points to hopeful signs in Michigan’s COVID-19 fight

As of April 21, Michigan reported 121,298 total tests, which is the 11th most total tests in the U.S. But when compared to tests per 1 million (population), Michigan falls to 25th, with 12,182 tests at that rate. (Michigan has the 10th biggest population in the U.S.)

Overall, the U.S. has conducted more tests than any other country in the world, with more than 4.1 million total tests, but compared to the 1 million (population) rate, the U.S. falls to 42nd in the world in testing rate, according to WorldOMeter.

Testing should be picking up in the coming weeks, as Michigan has expanded testing criteria, expanded drive-thru sites and offered more tests to essential workers. State officials, echoed by many other states, say the federal government needs to play a role in helping states ramp up testing to an acceptable level.

Specifically, states say they need help with supplies, like swabs. Hospitals and state health departments report scouring the globe to secure orders, competing against each other and their peers abroad in a system that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., described as “mayhem.”

“The federal government cannot wipe their hands of this and say, ‘Oh, the states are responsible for testing,’” Cuomo said last week as he complained of a shortage of chemicals manufactured in China. “I don’t do China relations. I don’t do international supply chain."

See here: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 tests data

Most health experts agree that a massive increase in testing capacity is needed for businesses to safely reopen without a vaccine in place. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer’s plan to reopen calls for just this.

While it appears to be the best-case scenario for sustained economic viability, it calls for 22 million tests per day — so that the entire country is being tested every 14 days, and anyone who tests positive can be quickly quarantined.

More: What does ‘reopening’ the economy look like? Some likely scenarios

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.