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Study: Michigan's strict public health measures over holidays reduced COVID-19 cases, saved lives

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Michigan's strict public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have proven successful at preventing COVID cases and saving lives. These are the preliminary findings by researchers at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health.

"It appears from our models that the social distancing that Michiganders practiced after November 15th over the holiday season prevented 109,000 cases," said University of Michigan professor Marisa Eisenberg, the study's lead researcher. 

Based on Michigan's 2.6% COVID case fatality rate, Eisenberg said that translates into 2,800 fewer COVID deaths between November 15 and January 8.

The state health department's "Pause to Save Lives" mandate, otherwise known as the Gatherings and Face Mask Order, was announced on November 15.

"Michigan hasn't taken the most stringent measures among the Midwestern states," Eisenberg said. "But we are among the strongest, and we also have the lowest cases of all the Midwestern states that we've looked at."

The study compared Michigan to six other Midwestern states: Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Eisenberg said Michigan had the lowest case count at 3,827 COVID cases per 100,000 people between November 1 and January 15, while Indiana had the highest at 5,998. She said Indiana also had the weakest COVID government response measures among the seven Midwestern states studied.

"It does suggest that Michigan calibrated its response pretty well in terms of having enough government response and Michiganders doing their part to practice social distancing and masking and all of those kinds of things to keep cases low," said Eisenberg.

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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