MDHHS: 1st case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 found in Michigan

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan on Saturday confirmed 1,932 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 535,534.

The state reported 103 additional deaths linked to the virus — 90 of those were discovered during a review of vital records. Michigan has now recorded a total of 13,804 deaths since the virus was first detected in the state.  

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday announced Michigan’s first case of the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7. The case has been identified as a woman from Washtenaw County. Officials say the woman recently traveled to the United Kingdom where B.1.1.7 was first found.

Health officials believe the new variant is more contagious than other strains of the virus. B.1.1.7 has been identified in other states including California, Colorado, Georgia, Florida and New York.

“The discovery of this variant in Michigan is concerning, but not unexpected,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible. We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn.”

On Friday, labs in Michigan tested 48,658 samples for coronavirus and 2,947 were positive, a rate of 6.06%. That rate has been on a downward trend all week.

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 four more deaths, bringing the total to 563. It also confirmed 124 more cases for a total of 44,611.

Kalamazoo County recorded five more deaths for a total of 249. It also confirmed 60 more cases for a total of 11,997.

Deaths in other West Michigan counties:

Allegan County: One more death for 75 total; 5,877 total confirmed cases.
Barry County: One more death for 37 total; 3,066 total confirmed cases.
Berrien County: One more death for 194 total; 9,515 total confirmed cases.
Branch County: Three more deaths for 71 total; 3,142 total confirmed cases.
Cass County: Two more deaths for 53 total; 3,236 total confirmed cases.
Muskegon County: One more death for 274 total; 9,800 total confirmed cases.
Newaygo County: One more death for 39 total; 2,384 total confirmed cases.
Ottawa County: One more death for 279 total; 19,109 total confirmed cases.
St. Joseph County: Two more deaths for 64 total; 3,709 total confirmed cases.

While the state has recently seen a plateau in COVID-19 cases, the percentage of positive tests each day this week has been encouraging. The seven-day average of that rate has again dipped below 9% — though it is still nearly three times higher than the 3% threshold public health officials look for to show community spread is controlled. Hospitalizations are still trending down, though the rate of decline has recently slowed. The number of deaths each day continues to fall.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues in the state, albeit slower than many would have hoped. The state this week revised its distribution schedule to indicate that the lowest-risk group of people may not start getting vaccinated until August — four months later than initially projected. However, that estimate could change again if the flow of doses into the state speeds up.

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