Coronavirus had infected hundreds in Michigan as Biden, Sanders campaigned there, report finds

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Hundreds of Michigan residents were likely already infected with the coronavirus around the same time former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other prominent Democrats ramped up campaigning just days before the state's crucial presidential primary.


Data from the state's Department of Health and Human Services suggests that at least 365 Michigan residents had symptoms of COVID-19 before the March 10 primary, The Detroit News reported on Monday.

At least 13 individuals who later tested positive began feeling symptoms on March 1.

As the coronavirus was already working its way around the state unreported, Sanders held seven Michigan campaign events in the four days before the primary, while Biden held three events on March 9. One of Biden's events was a rally at Detroit Renaissance High School attended by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Similarly, President Trump held a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., on March 2.

Contact tracers were unable to confirm if any of the people infected with COVID-19 had been at the campaign events in Michigan.

But political rallies may not be the only culprit that had a hand in spreading the virus. On March 7, 16,000 fans gathered at the Little Caesars Arena to watch the Utah Jazz play the Detroit Pistons.

The pandemic escalated quickly, and Whitmer banned gatherings larger than 250 people on March 13, then confirmed the state's first case of the virus the very next day.

Michigan has suffered 4,891 deaths from the coronavirus since March and 51,142 people have been infected.

Whitmer has said that little good can come if we "relitigate every event that occurred in the month or two leading up to our first cases.


"I just acknowledge that we now know that any public gathering is a bad idea," Whitmer told The Detroit News in April.

The Democratic governor has faced intense pressure from her state as protesters flocked to the street demanding she reopen the economy after she extended lockdown restrictions until May 28.