Rural Whispers, Noise & Rumors: July 6, 2020


Density in the UP: One Whisperer told us that the “Upper Peninsula has over 320,000 residents in 16,000 square miles or approximately 20 people per square mile. There are 27,878,400 square feet in a square mile. Divide that by 20 and everyone in the UP could have 1.4 million square feet of land to themselves. There are 1.7 million square feet in a 40-acre parcel. So everyone in the UP could have close to 40 acres all to themselves to achieve big time social distancing.”

Another view from one of our neighbors. 

The density of Detroit is approximately 4,878 people per square mile and its County of Wayne density is 2,974 people per square mile. While in West Michigan, Grand Rapids’ density is 4,397 people per square mile, while Kent County density is approximately 671 people per square mile. Marquette County has approximately 37 people per square mile. 

Go to our website, and go the tab “Data & Facts” for more information on density and people per square mile in every county in the Upper Peninsula. 

One can see how managing the spread of COVID-19 is a different challenge in cities and counties with higher density around Michigan. No matter the density of one’s community, it still takes a huge effort to coordinate and implement efforts to control COVID-19.

County, city, township and village leaders in the Upper Peninsula have done a tremendous job with managing and controlling COVID-19 in our communities. They have worked closely with public and private organizations throughout the Upper Peninsula to coordinate and control the pandemic here. We owe them a big thank you.

The Upper Peninsula effort is proof that government can lead and can innovate. Our government institutions, nonprofit and private institutions are strong in the Upper Peninsula. This all works when people are well informed and know what is going on in their communities. Information and truth does give people power and makes the people’s government work. 

Social distancing?  In the Upper Peninsula we have been doing social distancing for decades before federal government invented that term. However, the view on Marquette beaches this July 4th weekend is cause for alarm in Marquette and throughout the UP.

No social distancing or masks anywhere on the beaches showed how communities–even here in the UP–must be vigilant in controlling large gatherings and celebrations, or we will be seeing COVID numbers rising in our communities. The question everyone is asking is what could we have done to prevent this alarming event. 

K-12 School Funding in Michigan: The New York Times last week did a feature article on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In that article/interview they discussed multiple Michigan public policy issues. One of those issues discussed was public school funding in Michigan.

The New York Times in that article wrote about Michigan public school funding the following: “The state has also gradually hollowed out its public schools. For decades, Michigan’s education funding rose more slowly than that of any other state in the country. In fact, adjusted for inflation, per-pupil spending declined by 22 percent from 2002 to 2015. Most states spend more money per pupil in their high poverty districts; Michigan spends less.”

Here we are in 2020 and we are again discussing budget cuts in Michigan due to state tax revenue declines resulting from COVID-related issues. Again, there are references to large reductions in per-pupil funding in the Michigan K-12 system. We won’t know for sure how much until September most likely, until the Governor and the legislature come to some agreement hopefully prior to the beginning of the state’s next fiscal year–October 1, 2020. The school year begins in September after students have been out of school for the last few months due to COVID issues.  

OPENING OF UP UNIVERSITIES: Northern Michigan University has announced one public health step in the return of its students and faculty/staff in August. NMU says it will do a COVID-19 test of students, faculty and staff prior to the start of classes on August 17th. According to NMU “This will take place at the Northern Center from Aug 3-15. The test itself, which is a SHALLOW nasal swab (not the kind that goes all the way down one’s nasal cavity), only takes a minute. The entire visit should be less than 10 minutes.” 

As Michiganders watch the opening and closing of bars downstate and watching big states like Texas, California and Florida struggle with the opening of businesses and campuses, the NMU announcement is good news for the Upper Peninsula and Marquette. The testing is a good step in controlling the spread of COVID-19 as thousands of students return to UP campuses and towns.

QUOTES (Something to make us think):

“A real patriot is someone who loves their country enough to speak up when they see something that needs to be changed; not someone who blindly assumes that their government knows best.” (Source unknown).

“America is a republic. A republic, however, is like a raft. Slow, ungainly, impossible to steer, no place from which to control events; yet enduring and safe. It will not sink, but one’s feet are always wet.” (Source unknown).

“Freedom has a taste to it for those who fight and almost die that the protected will never know.” (Former Secretary of Navy and US Senator James Webb. Many versions of this quote are also attributed to many other authors in past decades).

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David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. Paul Anthony Sturgul on July 14, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Re patriotism and America:

    “My country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.”


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