St. Joseph Mayor, Tourism Council on Pandemic Fallout in Southwest Michigan


Nestled on the coast of Lake Michigan, St. Joseph, Michigan, is one of many small communities in the southwestern part of the state that relies heavily on summer tourism to support its many small businesses. 

Interactive: More from our series, COVID-19 Across Chicago.

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But with the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering much of Michigan’s economy and stalling regional travel, what will this summer look like for the area? 

“All of our merchants, the city itself, we’ve been working with Berrien County Health Department to provide a safe, friendly environment for all of our guests and our residents,” said St. Joseph Mayor Michael Garey. “We’re open for business this summer.”

Berrian County, which includes St. Joseph, has recorded 796 coronavirus cases, with 49 deaths. 

And as in communities across the country, the pandemic has been “devastating” to the local economy, says Millicent Huminsky, executive director of the Southwest Michigan Tourist Council. But she says she’s cautiously optimistic tourists will visit the region this summer. 

“I think with safe distancing, the practices being put into place — as long as people adhere to those things, we’re all going to be in good shape,” Huminsky said. “Will we do what we did in past years? Maybe, maybe not. But I still think we’ll be a choice for folks to drive to.”


Community Reporting Series

“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re hitting the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we’ve been and what we’ve learned by using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in red represent our series COVID-19 Across Chicago; blue marks our series “Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood.


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