The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Rural Areas Not Immune to COVID-19

May 4, 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan first hit hardest in the three counties surrounding Detroit, it is now spreading to other parts of the state, according to the Metro Times, a Detroit weekly paper. In late April, 81% of coronavirus cases were in the tri-county metro Detroit area. By May 1, that was down to 71%.

Some of the largest increases were in rural counties like Iosco and Ionia, which saw their numbers triple in 10 days. However, counties that include fairly large cities, like Kent County surrounding Grand Rapids, are also seeing more rapid increases.

Protesters have recently demonstrated in Lansing against the strictness of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

While these demonstrations have clearly been motivated, at least in part, by wealthy donors and far-right organizations, they certainly touch on real struggles being faced by many people in the state due to the economic crisis touched off by the pandemic. Many of the protesters are small business owners facing difficult economic circumstances, despite what help has been made available to some from the federal government. Others spoke out about not being able to get through the state’s unemployment benefit system to receive benefits.

Some protesters have made the argument that with no cases existing in their areas, the stay-at-home order should be relaxed. The choices, however, are not that simple. The numbers showing the increasing spread of the pandemic demonstrate that county boundaries don’t protect against the spread of a highly contagious, highly deadly virus.

In other words, there are only two bad choices: Shutting everything down to slow the spread of the virus or opening them up to slow the capitalist economic disaster.