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Report: Southeast Michigan residents sheltering at highest rates in nation

Coronavirus has taken a toll on Metro Detroit. In response, residents have greatly reduced their movement.

An empty, wide boulevard. Buildings line the street on either side and skyscrapers are seen in the distance. Getty Images

Metro Detroit has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)—harder perhaps than anywhere outside the New York metropolitan area.

In response, Southeast Michigan residents have been sheltering in place at some of the highest rates in the nation.

According to an analysis of cellphone location data by the New York Times, people who live in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties have decreased their mobility between 99 and 100 percent from the beginning to the end of March.

Cities in the U.S. with shelter-in-place orders have reduced travel from about five to one miles per day on average. “Americans in wide swaths of the West, Northeast and Midwest have complied with orders from state and local officials to stay home,” the report states.

It’s been a little over three weeks since Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed most public institutions, and a little over two weeks since she issued a stay-at-home order. The latter suspended all in-person operations “not necessary to sustain or protect life,” including closing nonessential businesses and directing Michiganders to remain in their homes through April 13.

Since then, the number of cases in Detroit has continued to climb, but that doesn’t mean the lack of movement isn’t working. Mayor Mike Duggan noted in his daily press conference that the rate of doubling—the time it takes for a certain population to double in size—is slowing.

The number of bus routes for local transit agencies have also been greatly reduced and all but one scooter company has pulled out of Detroit.

Even so, Southeast Michigan still hasn’t hit its apex of cases. “Hospitals are reporting that discharges are picking up, but that doesn’t mean the numbers are decreasing—we’re just slowing the growth,” Whitmer said. “We’re not close to hitting the apex yet.”

Whitmer has hinted that the stay-at-home order will “likely” be extended.