Earlier this month, the governor of Michigan eased many Covid-related restrictions, prompting concerns from public health officials. Unsurprisingly, just a few weeks into the relaxed measures have already led to the start of yet another surge.
In a news conference last Friday, the state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun pointed out,
“Our progress with Covid-19 is fragile. While we're making great progress with our vaccination efforts and many people are doing the right thing by wearing masks and not gathering in large groups, what we are seeing now is very concerning data that shows that we are going in the wrong direction."
Michigan’s daily new cases and hospitalizations have been increasing for the last month. As of mid-February, case rates have gone up by 77%, while the number of positive tests has gone up by an astounding 177%. In the last couple of weeks, hospitalizations have risen.
Gravely enough, the state has also recorded the second-highest number of the B.1.1.7 variant in the US, as per CDC data.
Experts believe Michigan state’s rising Covid-19 metrics are being driven by a combination of factors besides the B.1.1.7 variant. The relaxing of restrictions on entertainment venues, eating, and other businesses, as well as Covid fatigue, have contributed to this downward spiral.
Dr. Nigel Paneth, professor of pediatrics, biostatistics, and epidemiology at Michigan State University, explained these factors as follows.
“There is clearly an unfortunate trend now for the general public to relax distancing measures and for authorities to relax public health restrictions. This is a real concern in light of the continued evolution of new strains of the COVID virus.”
The situation can still get worse with more schools reopening and students returning, and taking part in sports. And according to the state’s data, school-related cases have already risen significantly.
In the last ten days, several states in the upper Midwest have recorded an increase in daily case numbers and Michigan is just one of them. According to CDC data, last week’s daily average is more than 2500 cases, with Wednesday reporting a total of 3164 new cases, which is the highest single-day spike since early January.
The nation’s leading infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, has repeatedly been raising concerns about states making the mistake of loosening restrictions too soon just because things appeared to have settled. He said earlier,
"There were times when we thought things were getting under control and then it exploded again. So although we are going in the right direction, we've got to keep our foot on the pedal with regard to public health measures."
Let’s all still adhere to that. Sit tight. Maintain social distance. Wash your hands frequently. And wear your masks.
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