GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan has now seen more than 10,000 people die after contracting COVID-19.
The state passed the grim milestone with Tuesday’s coronavirus data update from the state, which included 191 deaths related to the virus for a total of 10,138. Seventy-nine of the most recent deaths were discovered in a review of death certificates to find any that had not promptly been reported to the state.
The state has announced more than 1,000 deaths in just the last 10 days.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered flags lowered to half-staff for 10 days, through Dec. 18, to honor the dead.
“Our nation is grieving alongside each of the families who have an empty seat at the dinner table each night or who will be missing family members during the holiday season,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Right now, we need to listen to our scientists and medical professionals who are asking us to double down on wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing to prevent an unnecessarily greater loss of life. With a vaccine on the horizon, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we each need to do our part until then. We will get through this together.”
The Tuesday data update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also included 5,909 more confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total in Michigan to 410,295 since the virus was first detected in the state in March.
Labs in Michigan on Monday tested 58,926 samples for the virus and 7,299 were positive, a rate of 12.39%. 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.
Wayne County, which has seen more cases and deaths than any other county, added 1,127 more cases and 30 more deaths for totals of 67,926 and 3,173, respectively. Neighboring Oakland County has had 46,231 confirmed cases of the virus (798 more than the previous day) and 1,377 deaths (23 more). Macomb County has had 40,942 cases (628 more) and 1,298 deaths (20 more).
Kent County recorded nine more deaths for a total of 413. It also confirmed 355 more cases for a total of 35,490 since the start of the outbreak.
Several other West Michigan counties also saw additional deaths:
- Berrien County: Five more deaths for 126 total; 7,330 total confirmed cases since the outbreak began in March.
- Branch County: Two more deaths for 43 total; 2,377 total cases.
- Calhoun County: Three more deaths for 133 total; 5,994 total cases.
- Ionia County: Six more deaths for 30 total; 2,786 total cases.
- Kalamazoo County: One more death for 172 total; 9,169 total cases.
- Montcalm County: Two more deaths for 35 total; 2,254 total cases.
- Muskegon County: Seven more for 203 total; 8,078 total cases.
- Oceana County: One more death for 29 total; 1,335 total cases.
- Ottawa County: 11 more deaths for 177 total; 14,932 total cases.
- St. Joseph County: Two more deaths for 37 total; 2,657 total cases.
While some metrics that demonstrate the state of the outbreak have shown minor improvements in recent weeks, Michigan’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said Monday that “we are still clearly in our second surge of COVID-19 in Michigan.”
She pointed to an “alarmingly high” rate of new cases per million people per day that is seven times higher than it was at the beginning of September; a positive test rate above 14%, which is nearly five times the 3% threshold that public health officials say shows community spread is controlled; and a high number of deaths each day — sometimes more than 100.
Officials also pointed to hospitals running out of beds — capacity averages 74% statewide — though Khaldun noted the growth in the number of people hospitalized as slowed in the last week. As of Tuesday, state data showed nearly 4,064 adult inpatients in Michigan were either suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, a decline of 35 from the previous day. Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health said it had 302 patients, a declined of six from the previous day.
Citing the continuing high case and death numbers and noting that the effects of Thanksgiving gatherings have yet to be seen, state officials on Monday extended a set of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus — a ban on dining in at restaurants, the closure of bowling alleys and movie theaters, the requirement that high schools and colleges teach virtually and the suspension of high school sports — through Dec. 20.
They also said that when the restrictions are lifted, it won’t be all at once and that restaurant dining rooms would likely be among the last things to reopen.
“Progress against COVID is hard to earn and easy to lose,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon, who signed the restrictions into effect, said at a Monday press conference in Lansing announcing the extension. “We need to reopen cautiously, not recklessly.”
“If progress continues, we will eagerly reopen venues beyond those I’ve described,” he continued. “We’re not ready to so now and it’s unlikely we’ll be ready to do so in 12 days, but we will so as soon as we can.”
Though vaccines should soon be approved for emergency use, it will be some time before they are widely available. As a result, the virus continues to affect events. The West Michigan Women’s Expo, a large convention held each March at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, announced Tuesday morning its 2021 event was canceled due to the pandemic. Its 2020 event also closed after less than a full day as the virus was spreading in Michigan.