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Here’s what the number of COVID-19 cases in your county really means

COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents in Michigan counties
Brad Gowland
Michigan Radio
COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents in Michigan counties

Eight weeks ago, only Wayne and Oakland counties had confirmed cases of COVID-19. Now, there are cases in all but five counties.

And while some counties have taken a harder hit than others, it’s difficult to understand the scale of the outbreak in each county solely based on case number. So, we broke it down by the number of cases per 10,000 people.

Here’s a video showing the number of cases per 10,000 residents in the hardest hit counties from March 22 to May 5:

By measuring the number of cases per 10,000 residents, it’s easier to visualize the scale of the outbreak in each county.

Neil Mehta is an assistant professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan. He says this measurement “tells us what the chance is that we come in contact with someone who is infected. When we start thinking about loosening restrictions, however, we want to look at a number of metrics.”

Read more: Is social distancing working? Here's what you need to know.

That’s because simply measuring the number of cases in each county alone isn’t sufficient when thinking about loosening restrictions.

Instead, Mehta says, “We need to look at whether cases and deaths are trending upward or downward, whether we have enough testing and tracing capacity, whether our local public health officials are equipped to control any surges that emerge, hospital capacity, and the level that businesses are prepared to protect their employees and customers. Michigan's Safe Start Plan takes a number of these indicators in consideration and I think that is a very sensible approach.”

Check out the full list of counties below.

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Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
Brad Gowland joined Michigan Radio in 2019 to help with the station's growing digital side, specializing in data collection and digital audio.
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