Whitmer’s plans show smart decision-making
The first obligation of any newspaper is to keep readers informed with the most up-to-date information and news possible. So, while some readers may feel there has been too much coverage regarding novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, it still remains our obligation at the Daily Mining Gazette to keep those searching for more information apprised with the most current updates available.
While the DMG is not trying to create or fuel any media scares, we feel that the more information the public has, the less likely they are to panic. State and federal agencies might seem to be giving into panic, just the opposite is true, at least in the case of the state of Michigan. In fact, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been ahead of the COVID-19 curve all along.
On March 3, more than a week before the first two cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in downstate Michigan, Gov. Whitmer had created four COVID-19 task forces focused on state operations, healthcare, education, and the workforce. These were not created as a means by which any panic button could be hit. Rather, the task forces worked together to create a precautionary plan to protect the public from the virus in the event it arrived in Michigan, which it did, less than two weeks later.
Because of the forethought involved in creating the task forces, when the first two cases of COVID-19 proved presumptive positive, a statewide plan was already in place, waiting to be activated, in case it was needed. When the health departments of Wayne and Oakland counties announced the cases, Gov. Whitmer was able to declare a state of emergency, which would make it easier for all state agencies to work in perfect conjunction to put precautionary measures in place to mitigate the spread of the disease.
The 15 public universities in the state were closed for up to three weeks, by the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When 10 more cases were confirmed on Thursday, Gov. Whitmer took the precaution of ordering all public, private, and boarding schools closed for a period of time exceeding the incubation period of the virus.
The precautions seem excessive, perhaps, but the reason for them is because with COVID-19 being brand new to human beings, there are far more unknowns than knowns, and not enough cases to have created thorough studies on the disease.
As Our World in Data points out, most on-going studies focus on established problems, for which experts can refer to well-established research and data.
But COVID-19, all existing research and data is preliminary. Researchers are rapidly learning more about this new and evolving problem. However, present research and data will undoubtedly be revised in the future. It may, in the long run, turn out that COVID-19 is less deadly than other previous outbreaks, such as the SARS, H1N1, Swine, or Bird flus. It may be far more deadly in comparison. There are just too many unknowns at this point, which is why so many precautionary measures are being taken now, before the virus is becomes too widespread to control. It can be said with certainty, however, that seemingly outlandish, overreactions like banning sporting events and other large gatherings now, will in the end have saved countless lives.