GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Another 80 people died of coronavirus in Michigan Wednesday, again the largest one-day increase in deaths, bringing the total to 417.
The results of Wednesday’s tests for coronavirus, which were released Thursday, confirmed an additional 1,457 cases for a total of 10,791 statewide. And things are going to get worse: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan could be a month away from reaching the peak of its outbreak.
Metro Detroit has the majority of both deaths and confirmed cases. Wayne County, including the city of Detroit, has 5,069 cases 194 deaths; Oakland County has 2,183 cases and 119 deaths; and Macomb County has 1,332 cases and 58 deaths. Washtenaw County has confirmed 438 cases and seen eight deaths. Genesee County has confirmed 349 cases and 10 deaths.
Kent County added six confirmed cases Wednesday for a total of 125. Two people have died in the county, one March 21 and one earlier this week. Calhoun County added two more cases for a total of 25, Kalamazoo County four more for a total of 34 and Ottawa County four more for a total of 31. Muskegon County has 26 confirmed cases and two people have died there. Van Buren County saw its first death; 12 cases have been confirmed there.
Berrien County added two more cases for a total of 40. One person in that county died earlier this week. On Thursday. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, identified the victim as Bud Baker, a veteran.
Twenty-four of the new cases were within the Michigan Department of Corrections, which now has a total of 166 cases. No prisoners have died of the virus.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Michigan currently has the fourth highest number of confirmed cases in the country, behind New York, New Jersey and California. New York and New Jersey are the only states that have recorded more deaths linked to the virus. Nationwide, more than 5,900 people have died of the virus.
In Michigan, the dead range in age from 20 to 107, with an average age of about 71. Sixty-two percent of those killed by the virus were men and 38% women. While people over 80 make up only 8% of total patients, they account for 34% of the dead. People who are sick are from every age group, though the majority are older than 50.
The state does not have a figure for how many people in Michigan have recovered from coronavirus. Many of the people who test positive aren’t hospitalized, making it hard for the state to determine how many of them are better.
Gov. Whitmer has ordered Michigan residents to stay at home unless they must leave for an essential errand, like grocery shopping, or unless they are an essential service worker. Bars and a slew of other businesses have been shut down, and restaurants can offer only drive-thru, carry-out or delivery. On Thursday, Whitmer told K-12 schools to stay closed for the remainder of the year.
The executive order to stay at home is not optional: It’s law. People who disobey it could face a criminal misdemeanor charge punishable by a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail. And on Thursday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also instituted an additional $1,000 civil infraction fine for anyone who violates social distancing orders, as well as codified that businesses shirking it will have their licenses reviewed. Most agencies tasked with enforcement, however, have said they’re focused on education over punishment.
The goal of all the social distancing is to keep the number of severe cases low enough that hospitals will be able to treat everyone properly. In places like Italy, Spain and New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, hospital systems have been stretched beyond capacity. Michigan officials say Detroit hospitals are at or nearing capacity. Crews are setting up a field hospital at the TCF Center downtown, though it is not yet in use.
One of the hospitals systems dealing with the Detroit outbreak, Henry Ford Health System announced Thursday that it is leading the first large-scale study in the country of how effective hydroxychloroquine — a drug generally used to treat malaria, arthritis, lupus and other conditions — is in preventing COVID-19. Some 3,000 health care workers and first responders will volunteer to participate starting as early as next week. Over the weekend, the federal Food and Drug Administration OK’d using the drug on COVID-19 patients, but its effectiveness has not been proven.
In addition to social distancing, you should follow common-sense health practices, like washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, coughing into your arm or a tissue rather than your hands and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.
COVID-19 presents with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most who contract it, symptoms are mild. Though anyone can get it and anyone can develop a serious case, the people most at risk to develop severe complications are the elderly and those with preexisting health problems. If you think you have coronavirus, call your health care provider. Unless you are in need of emergency help, do not go to the emergency room. Get advice from a doctor over the phone or a televisit and they will direct you on how to get tested.