Michigan tops 13,000 deaths linked to COVID-19


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than 13,000 people in Michigan have now died after contracting coronavirus, state health officials announced Thursday.

The milestone came as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recorded 176 more virus-related deaths, noting 138 of those were discovered as public health workers reviewed death certificates to find any that had not been promptly reported to the state.

It has been only 12 days since the state surpassed 12,000 deaths.

The state also announced 4,015 more confirmed cases of the virus Thursday, bringing the total to 512,751 since it was first detected in Michigan in March 2020.

On Wednesday, labs in Michigan tested 44,310 samples for the virus and 4,077 were positive, a rate of 9.2%. 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.

Kent County recorded eight more deaths for a total of 540. It also confirmed 267 more cases for a total of 42,885 since the epidemic began 10 months ago.

Several other West Michigan counties also recorded additional deaths:

  • Allegan County: Four more deaths for 65 total; 5,546 total confirmed cases since March 2020.
  • Berrien County: One more death for 190 total; 9,075 total cases.
  • Calhoun County: One more death for 186 total; 7,084 total cases.
  • Cass County: Two more deaths for 48 total; 3,053 total cases.
  • Ionia County: One more death for 48 total; 3,567 total cases.
  • Kalamazoo County: Four more deaths for 239 total; 11,417 total cases.
  • Muskegon County: One more death for 264 total; 9,517 total cases.
  • Ottawa County: Three more deaths for 263 total; 18,270 total cases.
  • St. Joseph County: One more death for 57 total; 3,452 total cases.
  • Van Buren County: One more death for 75 total; 4.075 total cases.

Wayne County, home to Detroit, saw 29 more deaths for a total of 3,542, more than any other county in the state. It also confirmed 462 more cases for a total of 83,172. Neighboring Oakland County has had 56,582 confirmed cases (432 more than the previous day) and 1,630 more deaths (31 more). Macomb County has had 49,160 cases (237 more) and 1,591 deaths (14 more).

While Michigan has been seeing improving metrics for about a month, the decline in the case rate has plateaued and there has been an increase in the daily positivity rate. On Wednesday, the state’s leading epidemiologist said in a virtual briefing “we’re not going to see this continued decline” and that she was “expecting a rebound.”

The seven-day average rate of new cases per million people per day has leveled off since Christmas and the average testing positivity rate is now 9.6%, up from a low of just about 8% around Christmas. Public Health officials look for a rate below 3% to show community spread is controlled.

Hospitalizations continue to improve, and the rate of deaths each day has been getting better, too. Deaths are a lagging indicator; they rise and fall after a change in the case count.

It remains to be seen whether travel and gatherings around Christmas and New Year’s Eve will lead to a surge in cases. It can take two weeks for the data to show such an increase.

While the state on Wednesday announced it was opening up COVID-19 vaccinations to more groups of people, local health departments told News 8 Thursday they don’t have the doses on hand to facilitate that. They are urging patience. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called on the federal government to direct more doses to Michigan.



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