Code dark red: How Michigan compares to neighbors and other states as latest Covid surge rages

November 20, 2021, 4:56 PM by  Alan Stamm

Michigan ranks alone as severe risk. [Graphics: Act Now Coalition]

We're in the bright red zone, literally.

This map from a national Covid-tracking group shows Michigan as the only state considered a severe risk, the highest of five levels, because of our level of new cases, the vaccination rate and other factors. 

No states are in the lowest-risk category, according to the Act Now Coalition, a San Francisco-based nonprofit created in March 2020. Three Southern states -- Florida, Alabama, Louisiana -- are at the second-lowest level (medium risk).

Yes, it has come to this: We're worse off than Florida and also at a higher risk level than Texas.

Hospital administrators and health officials in Michigan say a fourth surge is under way. 

Michigan's per-capita daily rate of new pandemic diagnoses, now near 88 cases per 100,000 residents, is the highest nationwide, as we and other media reported this week. Accompanying graphics from the coalition's Covid Act Now project put that fact into visual context.


The initiative also compiles per-capita daily case rates at the county level, as shown at right for Metro Detroit.

The independent coalition, an education effort that says it wants to help help Americans "make informed decisions during crises," explains its methodology:

Covid Act Now uses six key metrics to assess Covid across U.S. states, metro [areas] and counties.

Three of these—daily new cases (incidence), infection rate and positive test rate—assess a location's overall risk level. The other three—ICU capacity used, % vaccinated and vulnerability—reflect a location's ability to protect itself and recover from Covid. ...

Infection rate is the direction and speed of growth. For instance, daily new cases may be low, but if infection rate is high, then we know that daily new cases will be high in the near future. ...

Covid Act Now partnered with the Harvard Global Health Institute and Harvard Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics to develop our Covid risk framework. 

Its comparisons show Florida averaging 6.6 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, while Louisiana and Alabama are at 9.1 each. Texas, ranked as high risk (the third of five categories), has nearly 12 new daily cases per-capita.

The four Midwestern states closest to Michigan (87.9 new daily cases per 100,000 people, as of Friday) are at the very high risk level:

  • Wisconsin: 60 new daily cases / 100,000 residents

  • Ohio: 45.6

  • Indiana: 42.2

  • Illinois: 28.1

Michigan's latest surge could stretch up to five more months if the vaccination rate and health safety precautions don't change, warns Nick Gilpin, Beaumont Health director of infection prevention and epidemiology.

"It is shaping up to be a marathon," Gilpin told Crain's Detroit Business recently. 

"In August, we had a shallow, slow rise. Now its taking a steeper trajectory. We're going to be living in this world for the next couple of months and possibly through the winter. There is nothing to stop this in any meaningful way until we change our behaviors."

Michigan's daily cases since March 4, 2020

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