By Scott McClallen
(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new interactive dashboard website to display COVID-19 data by region and county visually.
The state government and the University of Michigan teamed to create the dashboard that separates the state into Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) regions, formed partly by the major areas in which residents commute to work.
“This dashboard will provide us with the data we need to assess risk in different regions of the state so we can re-engage our economy safely and deliberately, while working to minimize the risk of a second wave of infections,” Whitmer said.
“The whole goal here is to help ensure we keep more people healthy and out of hospitals.”
The COVID-19 data show the number of cases, deaths and tests in each community combined to create risk levels that will impact Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan.
“The risk levels tell us whether there is high, medium or low risk of COVID-19 spread in a community and can help highlight areas where more social distancing may be needed, or where vulnerable individuals should be particularly careful,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said.
There are three categories of indicators: epidemic spread, health system capacity, and public health capacity, which rank a region’s risk level, along with other information.
The Department for Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the University of Michigan School of Public Health developed risk levels using federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Guidelines for Opening America.
“The U-M team is very excited to build this dashboard for the people and State of Michigan,” Associate Dean at U-M School of Public Health Sharon Kardia said in a statement. “This precision public health dashboard is very unique as it clearly shows everyone why some regions can open up more rapidly than others.”
Whitmer eased restrictions on the regions of Traverse City and the Upper Peninsula on Friday.
Whitmer also confirmed reports that her husband, Marc Mallory, had called a boat dock company to request their boat be placed in the water before Memorial Day weekend, and cited his wife’s name aiming to be placed in front of a backlog of boats.
Whitmer said it was a “failed attempt at humor.”
“He thought it might get a laugh,” Whitmer said. “It didn’t. And to be honest, I wasn’t laughing either when it was relayed to me. Because I knew how it would be perceived.”
Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-104, which expanded the medical professionals who can order a COVID-19 test. Her goal is to reach 15,000 tests per day.
But the state doesn’t seem to have made progress on publishing COVID-19 data for long-term care facilities.
Khaldun said the state is still working with federal partners to collect accurate data, which she also said last week.
MDHHS spokesperson Lynn Suftin previously told The Center Square that data might be published by the end of May.