A year in a pandemic: How Michigan has weathered the virus


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On March 10, 2020, Michigan confirmed its first two cases of the coronavirus and our world changed.

Since then, more than 600,000 people in Michigan have caught coronavirus. More than 15,700 of them have died.

Click through the interactive timeline below to see how coronavirus spread in Michigan and how the state responded.


Within a week of the first cases being confirmed, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered schools to close; ultimately, none reopened in person until the fall. Bars and restaurants soon followed. Michigan residents were told to stay home. Visitor restrictions also went into place, isolating loved ones in long-term care facilities and hospitals, while also opening some nursing facilities to recovering COVID-19 patients — a move that continues to face harsh criticism.

By April, a growing disconnect between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic governor’s office became palpable. Lawmakers refused to extend the state of emergency for the pandemic, so Whitmer did it without them, sparking a lawsuit. There were large protests at the state Capitol as people demanded restrictions be lifted.

In mid-June, restaurant and salons were allowed to start serving customers again. But by July, outbreaks linked to bars caused the governor to halt indoor service.

In early October, the Michigan Supreme Court narrowly tossed out the law that granted the governor her emergency power. Whitmer turned to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to revive some of her orders.

The same month, seven months into the pandemic, Michigan saw a second surge much worse than the first one. Deaths spiked. There were more widespread shutdowns.

But even as infections continued to be high, there was finally hope. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine started rolling out of its Portage plant on Dec. 13.

Moderna’s received emergency use approval from the federal government the next week.

In the last few weeks, as the world neared the one-year anniversary of when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine shot was approved, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing in Grand Rapids is mixing and bottling it.

But even as vaccines roll out, Michigan has identified variant cases and is seeing a slight rebound in case rates and people continue to die. On Wednesday, flags were lowered to half-staff to honor those who have lost their lives and people were encouraged to shine lights to remember them.

Even with the concerning metrics, public health officials say Michigan can continue to fight back. They urge everyone to follow mitigation protocols and sign up to get vaccinated as soon as it is their turn.

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