GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan has reported 7,819 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 73 related deaths as the state’s third surge continues.
Of the deaths announced Thursday, 43 were discovered during a review of death certificates to count any that had not already been reported to the state. These checks are conducted three times per week.
In all, Michigan has now had 723,297 confirmed cases of the virus since it was first detected here in March 2020 and 16,400 related deaths.
On Wednesday, labs tested 56,299 samples for the virus and 8,259 were positive. The number of positive tests is not the same as the number of new cases because people may be tested more than once. Additionally, testing numbers are from a single calendar date, while the number of new cases lists the increase since the last time the state compiled the data; these two time frames do not match up precisely.
Wednesday’s positive test rate was 14.67%. That marked a drop of more than 3 percentage points from the previous day, but the state also tested nearly 16,650 more samples Wednesday than the previous day. The change in the positivity rate is generally inversely proportional to the change in the number of tests run — as the number of samples rises, the positivity rate should drop.
Kent County recorded five more deaths for a total of 697 and confirmed 356 more cases for a total of 55,910.
Deaths were also added in several other West Michigan counties:
- Berrien County: Two more deaths for 235 total; 12,119 total confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
- Branch County: One more death for 85 total; 3,755 total cases.
- Calhoun County: One more death for 234 total; 10,138 total cases.
- Kalamazoo County: One more death for 293 total; 16,204 total cases.
- Montcalm County: One more death for 90 total; 3,978 total cases.
- Van Buren County: One more death for 91 total; 5,473 total cases.
Wayne County, hit hardest by the virus over the course of the pandemic and again posting large numbers during the surge, saw 26 more deaths for a total of 4,089. It also confirmed 1,628 more cases for a total of 119,978. Neighboring Oakland County has had 82,299 confirmed cases (1,036 more than the previous day) and 1,966 deaths (five more). Macomb County has had 73,792 cases (909 more) and 1,952 deaths (six more).
Michigan has received nearly 5.7 million vaccine doses and nearly 5 million of those have been administered. Nearly 39% of the population over the age of 16 has gotten at least one dose. The goal is to reach at least 70%.
Michigan has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the nation right now, ranking no. 1 among states in both the number of new cases and the case rate, as well as for hospitalizations and ICU utilization.
The seven-day average of the test positive rate is now 17.3%, close to six times higher than the 3% threshold that demonstrates community spread is controlled. The Saginaw area is seeing the highest average positivity rate, now nearly 21%, with the figure being driven by rates above 30% in Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties in the Thumb.
Southeast Michigan toward the Thumb is also seeing the highest case rates. Statewide, residents age 20-39 are seeing the highest case rates. Those older than 70, who are more likely to be vaccinated, are not contracting the virus as frequently.
Hospitalizations have about doubled in the last two weeks.
“(Hospitals) are beginning to look at implementing some of their surge plans again,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel said during a Wednesday data update from the agency. “We know that our hospitals are well-equipped to handle these surges. We’ve seen them do it a number of times now, unfortunately, and we will remain here ready to support them in whatever they need.”
West Michigan-based Spectrum Health says its fall peak was a little more than 300 patients. As of Thursday, it had about 230. The climbing numbers have hospital administrators concerned.
Spectrum also noted that the average age of its COVID-19 inpatients in the fall was 65; now, it’s 57.5. Statewide, those age 60-69 being hospitalized most frequently.
The mortality rate is also increasing, though daily totals remain fairly low, particularly in comparison to the spring 2020 and fall surges.
Despite the surge, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has not signaled a tightening of restrictions. She not held a formal coronavirus briefing from Lansing — at which restriction changes have often been announced — in nearly three weeks, though she has been available to the media at several appearances around the state, including when she received her first vaccine shot earlier this week.
In a statement released to News 8 Thursday, Whitmer’s office said “Michigan continues to have smart health policies in place, such as a mask mandate and capacity limits on large gatherings,” and that the state is working to ramp up testing surrounding schools after spring break and for student athletes.
“We continue to work closely with our state’s leading health experts to monitor trends in COVID-19 spread throughout the state. Unlike other states like Texas and Florida that have abandoned public health protocols altogether, Michigan continues to have smart health policies in place, such as a mask mandate and capacity limits on large gatherings. We are still very much in this pandemic, but we’ve learned a tremendous amount about how to protect ourselves and our loved ones. That’s why every Michigander has a personal responsibility to do their part by wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining social distancing to help us slow the spread of this virus.
“The state is moving forward with plans to ramp up testing for schools, businesses, and nursing homes. We have increased COVID-19 tests and expanded testing protocols for all student athletes. And we have increased our vaccine program over the last couple of weeks, which has helped us reach an historic milestone of four million vaccines in under four months. The most important thing people can do is to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their families, and help us eliminate this virus once and for all.”Bobby Leddy, press secretary for the office of Gov. Whitmer
The vaccine distribution, which is speeding up, is giving hope to state officials that the summer will be better and that restrictions could be completely lifted.
MDHHS said it will be distributing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to local health department that partner with colleges in an effort to get more vaccinated.
State officials said about 16,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses are being sent out and 26 colleges and universities will be participating in the effort
“Vaccinating this group of the population right now makes a lot of sense as thousands of college and university students near the end of their academic year and are preparing to travel back home, start new jobs, take summer vacations, and interact with their family and friends,” Northern Michigan University President Fritz Erickson said in a statement.