CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A group of small business owners in Michigan hired an economist who said the state passed its peak number of new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases last week and the “days where we can resume some normalcy are on the horizon.”
It’s the topic that’s generated far more questions than answers; When is it time to reopen businesses, and how should they go about doing so?
The quandary has a group of small business owners reached out for professional advice, but still, the answer isn’t simple.
There are empty parking lots and closed businesses across the state of Michigan. Many are wondering about the numbers Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is using to make her decisions.
Some of those people hired economist Patrick Anderson to look at the numbers, and what he found might surprise some people.
Whitmer said she’s using models to make her decisions.
“As I execute all these levers and take these actions, I want you to know I don’t do any of this lightly,” Whitmer said.
But the question is: how? Anderson is a well-known economist, and he sent out a set of graphs using New York Times and government data that shows Michigan’s total infections, the infection rate and the growth rate.
The graphs suggest Michigan’s infection rate peaked last week -- specifically on Thursday.
They also show unemployment in the state is at depression levels.
“I’m not saying we should open all the bars and everything tonight, but we can now look and see what the trend is and the pathway is down and we can weigh that against the risk of letting people go out and work,” Anderson said. “We have a few tough days ahead of us, but those days where we can resume some normalcy -- they are on the horizon.
“Perhaps look at different areas of the state and make more of a common sense, rational approach to this, rather than we have to shut everything down right now. (That) may have made sense in March, but no longer in the middle of April.”
Local 4 reached out to Whitmer and asked a number of questions about this data, including whether she has seen it or if it would have any influence on the decision making, but we haven’t heard back.
You can view a letter sent to Whitmer, as well as data from the study, below.