Reopening the State, Visualized

Naitian Zhou / Daily Data Team
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Monday that the remaining six regions in Michigan would be moving into phase 4 of her Safe Start plan. This means the stay-at-home orders are lifted, and small gatherings are now permitted, but face masks are still required. Beginning June 8, restaurants and bars are also allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity. This followed an earlier announcement to move the northern regions of Michigan into phase 4 on May 18.

Ultimately, though, the state's residents decide when and to what extent the state will reopen through their own actions. As the weather warms up and we enter the summer months, how much has Michigan already begun opening up? We used Google’s mobility dataset to track the amount of activity across a variety of settings (parks, retail, grocery, etc) through Labor Day weekend.

Parks are Popular

It should come as no surprise parks are massively popular. They offer an accessible, safe way to get out of the house. In phase 4, outdoor sports and activities are permitted, so activity can be expected to increase in the following weeks.

Many counties never fell below the baseline activity level, and there has been a steady increase in activity as the weather gets warmer.

A Gradual Reopening

The Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions have seen relaxed restrictions since May 18, including the opening of restaurants and shops. But has this had a tangible effect on the residents of those areas?

In retail and recreation areas, all counties for which we have data are seeing increased activity in the past week. All regions across the state have been opening up, at varying rates. However, southeast Michigan, the area of the state hit hardest by the pandemic, is notably the slowest in its rate of increase.

Explore the Data

You can explore all data, current through May 25, here. Google calculates mobility based on a percent change from baseline, and if it did not collect enough data to ensure privacy and statistical significance for a given county on a given day, that data was excluded from the dataset.

About the Data: Google calculates mobility as a percent change over a baseline value. The baseline is set as the median of measurements over a five-week period from January to February, and there exists a baseline for each day of the week, meaning natural weekly effects are controlled for in the dataset. To read more about the Google mobility dataset, you can view its website here.