Michigan announces about 1,500 more coronavirus cases


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan has reported 1,536 more confirmed cases of coronavirus and five more related deaths.

The Wednesday update from the state brings the total number of confirmed cases in Michigan to 591,753 since the virus was first detected here a year ago and the total number of associated deaths to 15,563.

On Tuesday, labs tested 35,756 samples for the virus and 1,433 were positive, a rate of 4.01%.

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 confirmed 90 more cases, bringing its total to 49,066 since the start of the pandemic. Its death toll was revised down by one to 654. This has not been uncommon as cases are double-checked and sometimes moved between jurisdictions.

St. Joseph County also revised its death toll down by one to 79. It has had 4,206 confirmed cases.

Ottawa County added one death for a total of 317. It has had 21,144 confirmed cases.

Wayne County, home to Detroit and hit hardest by the virus, confirmed 228 more cases for a total of 95,277. Its number of deaths remained unchanged at 39,292. Neighboring Oakland County has had 64,902 confirmed cases (167 more than the previous day) and 1,893 deaths (two more). Macomb County has had 55,531 confirmed cases (169 more) and 1,866 deaths (revised down by one).

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday announced that starting Monday, those 50 and older with a preexisting condition and adults who care for children with preexisting conditions are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan. Two weeks later, on March 22, everyone 50 or older will be eligible.

Michigan hospitals, health departments and clinics have been shipped a little more than 3 million doses since the first vaccine was greenlighted in December and about 2.35 million of those have been administered.

The vaccine rollout is ramping up as Michigan sees a plateau in some virus metrics.

“Our case rates have dropped significantly since the fall surge but they are still higher than they were last summer and they are no longer dropping,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said at a Tuesday press conference in Lansing.

The state’s case, positivity and hospitalization rates have recently leveled off. The seven-day average of positivity rate is hovering around 3.7%, more than half a percentage point higher than the 3% public health officials look for to show community spread is controlled.

The rate of deaths, the metric that changes last, is still trending down and is better than it has been since mid-October.

Khaldun added Tuesday that the number of outbreaks being tracked has declined.

According to MDHHS, Michigan now ranks:

  • 16th among states for highest number of cases (up two spots);
  • 21st in the highest number of deaths (down three);
  • 42nd in highest case rate (up six spots);
  • 36th in highest hospitalization rate as a percent of total beds (up one);
  • 15th in highest number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU (up three);
  • and 43rd in death rate (down eight).

Of concern now is the more transmissible B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant. MDHHS says it has confirmed nearly 440 cases of that variant, 299 of them at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.

Khaldun warned there is likely undetected spread of the variant within communities. She has stressed the importance of getting tested to track the variant.

“If (the B.1.1.7) variant becomes more prevalent across the state, we could see a rapid increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Khaldun said. “This pandemic is not over and we must all continue to remain vigilant.”

On Tuesday, Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that restaurants could start serving up to 50% capacity and pushed their curfew back to 11 p.m. effective Friday. The order also raises capacity limits for retail, gyms, entertainment venues like movie theaters, arenas and social gatherings. Effective immediately, nursing homes are accepting visitors if they have not had a confirmed cases of the virus in two weeks.


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