GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The number of deaths linked to coronavirus jumped significantly Thursday, rising by 205 for a total of 1,281.

The state did note that about 30 of those deaths may not have happened Thursday and were discovered in a search of death certificates, looking for coronavirus causes. That vital records check will be repeated weekly.

But even considering that, it’s by far the largest one-day increase in deaths the state has recorded so far. The previous high, set Monday, was 118. On Wednesday, there were 117 deaths.

Of the 205 newly recorded deaths, 105 were in Wayne County. That county, including the city of Detroit, has now lost 609 people.

Across the state, patients who have died were older. While they range in age from 20 to 107, they have an average age of about 73. And while those older than 60 make up only 41% of total cases, they account for 82% of the dead.

African Americans are also being disproportionately affected. Though they make up only 14% of the state population, they account for a third of all COVID-19 cases and at least 40% of the dead. The governor has launched a task force to address the disparity.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered flags lowered to half-staff indefinitely to honor everyone who has died of COVID-19.

An additional 1,279 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across the state Thursday, according to data released Friday, bringing the total to 22,783. While the number of new cases is high, it is significantly lower than what we were seeing late last week.

Wayne County’s number of confirmed cases rose to 10,539, 224 more than the day prior. Oakland County has 4,511 confirmed cases and 282 deaths; and Macomb County 2,973 cases and 197 deaths. Genesee County, which includes Flint, has 828 confirmed cases and 57 people have died there.

There was one more death within the Michigan Department of Corrections for a total of five and 335 inmates have tested positive for the virus.

There were four more deaths in Kent County, where Grand Rapids is, for a total of 13. Six of the dead were patients at the Metron of Cedar Springs nursing home, where 31 patients were infected. The county has 249 confirmed cases.

Kalamazoo County announced a seventh death, saying the patient was older than 70 and had underlying health conditions. The county said all seven people who have died there were older than 70. That county has 77 confirmed cases.

There was also one additional death in both Branch and Ionia counties. Each now has two deaths.

Cases and deaths remain low in the Upper Peninsula. Across the region, there are 46 confirmed cases and seven deaths.

Across the state, more than 3,800 patients were in the hospital as of Friday; about 1,440 of those were on ventilators. The vast majority were in and around Detroit.

Michigan has the third-highest number of cases and deaths in the nation, behind New York and New Jersey. Whitmer’s administration says it’s going to get worse, citing models from the University of Michigan showing the virus won’t peak until late this month. As a result, the governor on Thursday extended her stay-at-home order through April and said some social distancing restrictions may remain in effect after that.

But state officials have also noted that not enough testing has been done to get a good handle on the situation as it stands now. The state says it ran about 3,300 samples for coronavirus on Wednesday (the most recent day for which data is available). About 29% came back positive. The state’s chief medical executive said Thursday that officials were working to expand testing capacity.

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.


In Detroit, where the outbreak is at its worst, the field hospital at the TCF Center (formerly Cobo) opened Friday after nine days of setup. It 970 beds, but is starting with only 25 COVID-19 patients who are medically stable. By the end of next week, it could be housing 250.

None of the patients will start care at TCF — they’ll be admitted an actual hospital and be moved after 48 hours. TCF also won’t serve intensive care patients, who will stay in hospitals.

The field hospital is being staffed by doctors and nurses from Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Beaumont Health and the Detroit Medical Center, plus the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The state is still asking doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists — including retirees — to sign up to work at TCF and a second field hospital being set up at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. You can volunteer online.


Also Friday, the Michigan History Center announced it was launching an initiative to compile information about the pandemic and how it’s affecting people’s lives.

It’s a three-phase initiative. During phase one, people can submit photos, videos and audio file detailing their daily lives during the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. You can start by answering these questions:

  • How are you communicating with family, friends and colleagues?
  • Have certain places become more important to you?
  • What is something that has brought you unexpected joy?
  • What steps have you taken to protect your health and the health of others?

Phase two will collect physical objects that tell part of the story, and phase three will be the collection of interviews and stories.


**Correction: A previous version of this article transposed the number of total COVID-19 deaths and the number of newly confirmed cases. We regret the error, which has been fixed.