Despite the protests around the nation and the forced re-opening of Wisconsin, and the president’s call to ‘liberate Michigan’, it appears that the stay at home order in Michigan saved lives.

Researchers at Imperial College London and Oxford University tracked the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions against the novel coronavirus, such as stay-at-home orders, by tracking how mobility decreased after governors declared states of emergency in each state.

They tracked mobility, using Google, because people who spend less time in public spaces are less likely to be exposed to the disease.

The researchers found that states that were more successful at keeping people at home were also more successful at reducing the spread of COVID-19. And mobility decreased more in Michigan under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home orders than in any other Great Lakes states — or most states in the United States, according to the study

Seth Flaxman, one of the study’s investigators and a senior lecturer in mathematics at Imperial College London, wouldn’t estimate how many lives have been saved so far by keeping Michigan residents out of public spaces. But a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggested an astounding number if nothing were done to curb the spread, he said.

“The population of Michigan is 9 million,” Flaxman said. “In an unmitigated epidemic, you might expect that 70% to 80% of the population might be infected, that’s 7.4 million people infected with COVID-19.

“We assume around a 1% infection mortality rate — that’s over all the infections in the population, some are very mild. So if you multiple 7.4 million by 1%, you get 74,000 deaths,” he said.

Michigan has experienced 5,990 confirmed and probable deaths through Friday, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the British team’s estimates, about 130,000 Michigan residents were infected with the disease at the end of March. By mid-May, the number of infected people had dropped to about 25,000 in the state.

The novel coronavirus is still out there. It’s not afraid of you. It’s not in hiding. It is in fact just looking for its next host. As Wisconsin continues to re-open don’t be surprised when we see a new upward trend in positive test results and deaths.

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