Michigan Doctor Says Coronavirus Similar to Flu, Calls for Lifted Restrictions


A Michigan doctor has published an open letter to the public and Michigan legislators, saying that the coronavirus is no worse than the common flu and that shelter-in-place orders and other treatments should be restricted by region and industry.

“All available data suggests the mortality rate of COVID-19 in the general population will approximate that of the seasonal flu in the long run,” said Dr. Rob Steele, a doctor of internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology and echocardiography. “It is the same patients in danger from either infection with similar hospitalization and mortality rates.  Seasonal influenza is dramatically more dangerous for those ages 2 and under than COVID.”

Steele, who is part of party leadership for the Michigan Republicans, said that initial social distancing guidelines were based on “theoretical models and witnessing the hospital systems of Italy and China being overwhelmed” and these models “have since been found to be wildly inaccurate.”

“The goal of shelter in place orders was to ‘flatten the curve’ and protect the healthcare system,” Steele wrote. “With public private partnerships and large amounts of federal government funding and logistical support there are now plenty of PPE, ICU beds and ventilators available with many temporary overflow facilities being decommissioned without ever being used.”

The letter was supported by the Michigan Conservative Coalition.

“Lansing is unable or unwilling to see the crushing effects of the Governor’s ill conceived ‘Stay Home’ order,” said Rosanne Ponkowski, President of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, in a statement.  “Over 1,200,000 Michiganders are unemployed and half of those citizens have yet to receive a dime.  Yet now the Governor says that the construction sector can’t open until May 7. What is the science behind May 7?  Why not now? Why are mom & pop stores, and not big box stores, being pushed to bankruptcy?”

Steele said that those who are at risk should be social distancing or sheltering at home, not the healthy.

“The U.S. healthcare system has not and will not be overwhelmed,” Steele said. “Mission accomplished.”


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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected].
Photo “Dr. Rob Steele” by Dr. Rob Steele.








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One Thought to “Michigan Doctor Says Coronavirus Similar to Flu, Calls for Lifted Restrictions”

  1. Thomas Biggs

    I appreciate Dr. Steele’s comments and wholeheartedly agree, however the statement would carry more weight if it came from a frontline doctor who was not a GOP committee man. I understand the fear this virus initially caused but I never understood how our governments could justify destroying the world economy because of it. I wonder just exactly when Dr. Steele finally reached the conclusion that this was no worse then flu. Too bad more doctors didn’t speak up a little sooner instead of waiting until it’s politically “safe” to make these comments. We must reopen our economy but the damage has been done and I fear we as a country will never be quite the same.