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Living with COVID one year later: Part I – Another surge in cases, but without explanation

April 4, 2021

On Saturday, WOOD TV 8 posted a story entitled, About 8,400 new coronavirus cases in MI as test positivity tops fall high.

The story filled with data, both at the state level and data specific to West Michigan. Channel 8 focused on the rising number of people testing positive for COVID, the number of deaths in the last few days, along with maps and even more data.

Later in the story it states:

State officials are now worried about people taking spring break trips, particularly to Florida, which also has a high infection rate right now. They are urging people to get tested before and after travel.

But then channel 8 slips back into making the story about data. 

One would think, that after living with COVID for the past year, that local news agencies could do more than give us data, and instead try to get us to think about why some many people are now testing positive for COVID, in what many are calling another surge.

As we mentioned earlier, channel 8 did say that state officials were concerned about people on spring break trips, but this is merely speculation and is not based on fact. So what can we say about why so many people are testing positive for COVID in Michigan right now and what are the contributing factors? How could WOOD TV 8 have made this story about not just the rise in COVID cases, but the reasons for the spike?

As Bridge Magazine as reported, there is a clear correlation between schools shifting back to in person schooling and a spike in cases.

As we have noted in numerous stories over the past year, there has been tremendous pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, from the Mackinac Center, from the West Michigan Policy Forum and from Republican legislators in Michigan to lift any and all restrictions on schools, restaurants and other businesses – as was reflected in this story in the Detroit News in late January, with the headline, Michigan GOP leaders call for reopening schools, restaurant dining.

A third major reason for the surge in COVID cases in Michigan is the fact that there are plenty of people who do not think COVID is a serious issue, plus there are plenty of people that think it is a government hoax. When we reported on the Holland restaurant owner who was put in jail over COVID violations, the amount of coverage that story received was astounding. Even more astounding was the fact that most of the people who came out to protest in support of the restaurant owner were not wearing masks, along with the fact that several GOP politicians and candidates in the 2022 election are running on a platform that includes denial of the COVID pandemic.

Each of these three reasons deserve their own news story(ies) and would benefit the public tremendously, especially if they were explored and analyzed in such a way as to help us make some determinations about what factors are determining the new surge. If news agencies are not doing this, then it is safe to say they are not practicing journalism, but a form of sensationalism, sensationalism that actually does public harm.

In Part II, we will explore some of the larger issues around the COVID pandemic that are specific to the Greater Grand Rapids Area. 

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