Top doc urges masks as Michigan confirms 660 more COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan has recorded seven more deaths linked to coronavirus and on Thursday confirmed 660 more cases, the latest state data shows.

The figures released Friday afternoon bring the total number of deaths to 6,108 and the total number of cases to 72,502 since the virus was first detected in Michigan in March.

Labs in Michigan on Thursday tested 30,547 samples for the virus and 958 came back positive. The number of positive tests does not equal the number of new cases because many people are tested more than once for confirmation purposes.

The percentage of positive tests was 3.14%, a decline from the day previous and a significant improvement over the highest percentage of the week, which was well over 4%. State health officials say they’d prefer to see the rate below 3%, where it was for much of June.

Just about anyone who wants a coronavirus test can now get one, and health officials want you to do so as they work to increase the number of daily tests. The state’s website lists information on finding a testing site.

Kent County recorded one more death, bringing its total to 143. It also confirmed 75 more cases for a total of 5,685 since the outbreak started.

Four of the seven most recent deaths were in Wayne County, which has been hit hardest by the virus with 2,652 now dead. Wayne County also confirmed an additional 113 cases for a total of 23,629 since the outbreak started.

Also in southeast Michigan, Oakland County has had 10,016 cases (85 more than the day previous) and 1,073 deaths (one more). Macomb County has had 7,906 cases (62 more) and 895 deaths (steady).

St. Joseph County also saw one more death for a total of six. It has had 366 confirmed cases.

The Battle Creek Police Department said four employees tested positive for the virus. All were doing OK Friday and were recovering at home. The department is working with county health officials to contact trace and determine who else needs to get tested.

Calhoun County has had a total of 569 cases and 38 deaths.

The Battle Creek Police Department said four employees tested positive for the virus. All were doing OK Friday and were recovering at home. The department is working with county health officials to contact trace and determine who else needs to get tested.

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department noted Friday that data is showing Latino people in Van Buren County are being disproportionately affected by the virus. It says while Latino people make up only 11% of the county’s population, they account for 56% of coronavirus cases as of July 14. Health officials say they’re working on strategies to reach out to that community to encourage mitigation efforts and increase testing. Kent County previously reported similar trends among the Latino and Black communities.

Van Buren County has had 257 total cases and eight deaths.

While hospitalizations have been going up steadily for more than a week, daily increases have been small. There are still plenty of intensive care beds and ventilators for everyone who needs one.

TOP DOC ON WHY MICHIGAN CASES ARE RISING

Michigan has been seeing a slight uptick in cases in the last few weeks, though it’s still in much better shape than it was in April and in a much better position than several other states seeing surges.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, told News 8 Friday there’s “a mix of reasons why we’re seeing the increase in cases across the state.” She said local health departments have not been able to connect spikes to the police reform protests many cities have seen since late May. But some of the rise can be attributed to large parties where people weren’t following health safety protocols.

“We’ve heard about gatherings that have gone against, quite frankly, what our executive orders are and people being close together and not wearing masks,” she said. “So it’s concerning and I hope people will heed the warning and mask up across the state.”

Widespread use of masks in public, Khaldun said, is an “effective” way to slow the spread of the virus:

“There’s more and more data that’s come out over the last few months published in medical journals, studies from across the world that show that just a cloth face covering works,” Khaldun said. “It can prevent up to 70% of spread, so it’s incredibly important that people wear a mask.”

By Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order, businesses are required to turn people away if they aren’t wearing a mask. On Friday, she issued clarification that businesses cannot assume that someone not wearing a mask has a medical exemption; they must get verbal confirmation to that effect.

Meijer said Friday it was launching a mandatory mask policy at all of its stores in six states starting Monday, which several other retailers have also done.

You should also frequently wash your hands and practice 6-foot social distancing whenever possible.

>>Whitmer: “It’s on all of us to mask up”

LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES

About a third of Michigan’s coronavirus-related deaths have been among patients at skilled nursing facilities.

>>31 COVID-19 deaths at GR nursing home, most in West Michigan

Many long-term care facilities have had strict limitations on visitors to help prevent infections. Several people have contacted News 8, concerned about their loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia may be deteriorating more quickly without frequent interaction from family.

“Director Robert Gordon, the director of (the Department of Health and Human Services) in the state, has issued an epidemic order that actually does allow visitation in circumstances where the clinician has deemed it’s necessary for the activities of daily living and it would be important for the health overall of that particular individual resident of the nursing home, so there is a little bit of room for visitation if it’s deemed medically appropriate,” Khaldun said.

She also noted the state has mandated regular testing in nursing homes.

“I don’t want to belittle the concerns of individuals who have family in these nursing homes,” Khadun said. “These are incredibly difficult decisions we’re making but we’ll continue to monitor and do the thing that we think is best for the safety of all Michiganders, including people living in nursing facilities.”

—News 8’s Lynsey Mukomel contributed to this report.

  

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