Some Northern Counties Feeling Left Out By Region Based Opening

May 22, 2020

Although dentists, doctors and veterinarians can take more patients beginning immediately under the Governor’s new executive order, most businesses outside of northern Michigan can’t begin re-opening until Tuesday.

The Michigan Economic Recovery Council's region map.
Credit Page 3 from the Governor's safe reopening plan. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/whitmer/MI_SAFE_START_PLAN_689875_7.pdf

The areas being re-opened right now are designated Regions 6 and 8 by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council, it encompasses nearly all counties north of Clare, but not all. This is leaving some residents feeling left out.

Denise Bryan is the Health department officer with the District 2 Health Department, she said her district is one that feels left out.

“Residents in district 2, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, and Ogemaw have really been frustrated and outraged that they did not get aligned with northern Michigan but rather a more urban setting,” Bryan said.

Bryan said her counties are rural, and meet many of the same criteria as other northern counties for Covid-19. But under Michigan’s re-opening map, those rural areas have been grouped with larger and more populous Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties. Bryan said it isn’t entirely clear how the designation happened, and she said, the categorization could hurt area businesses.

The regions were designated by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council, a body consisting of 29 Business and University Presidents. The exact process for how regions were created has not been very clear, and it's not clear who on the council had input. Some residents of District 2 have argued that they feel under-represented. WCMU has reached out to multiple sources, including the governor's office, but has not received information on how Recovery Regions were determined.

Bryan said part of the reason district 2's residents are so hurt is because Memorial Day weekend is an extremely important time for them economically. She said this factor only adds to the feeling of being left out. “I do hear daily from our local businesses that they will shudder their doors permanently, that Memorial weekend is so required to bring in the revenue, their employees are suffering economic losses, the business is just precarious and so close to permanent closure.”

Bryan said the whole situation is making some businesses desperate, some are talking about opening in spite of the order. They say this weekend could be their last chance to stay afloat.