COVID-19 deaths ordered to be quickly reported as cases rise

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan health authorities say 61 more people have died of COVID-19 as of Saturday morning, bringing the state’s death count to 540.

As the number of cases continues to rise, state officials are ordering funeral homes and doctors to quickly report deaths suspected to be linked to COVID-19.

Also released Saturday were the total number of infections in the state, rising from 12,744 to 14,225 from Friday, an increase of 1,481 cases.

The highest numbers for both cases and deaths continue to come from southeast Michigan. Wayne County, including the city of Detroit, has 6,762 confirmed cases and 252 deaths; Oakland County has 2,785 cases and 142 deaths and Macomb County 1,828 cases and 78 deaths. Washtenaw County has recorded 501 cases and eight deaths. Genesee County has 464 cases and 15 deaths.

On Saturday night, Muskegon County health officials confirmed its fourth death from COVID-19. Officials say the victim was a 57-year-old man. The county had 31 confirmed cases as of Saturday morning.

Kent County’s third death from COVID-19 was also confirmed on Saturday by the Kent County Health Department. The female victim was in her 60s with underlying health conditions. As of Saturday morning, Kent County had 153 cases, 17 more than was reported Friday.

Berrien County has 56 cases, four more than the day prior. Ottawa County added two more cases for a total of 39 cases.

In Kalamazoo County, reported five more cases for a total of 45. The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department said two more people died from the virus as of Saturday morning. Officials told News 8 both people had underlying medical conditions. There are now three confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county, authorities said.

The dead range in age from 20 to 107, with an average age of about 72. Sixty-one percent of those killed by the virus were men and 39% women. While people over 80 make up only 8% of total patients, they account for 34% of the dead.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says its lab, plus hospital and commercial labs, have run more than 40,000 samples for coronavirus. About 30,000 came back negative and 10,435 were positive. The number of tests run doesn’t equal the number of patients because some patients were tested twice and some tests were run out of state.

Funeral homes, doctors ordered to report COVID-19 deaths quickly

Late Saturday night, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order aimed at getting doctors and funeral homes to report COVID-19 deaths more quickly. 

Officials say the goal is to allow public health officials to understand the scope of the virus in their communities more accurately. 

The order requires physicians who know or suspect a patient’s death resulted from COVID-19 to attempt to swiftly notify the funeral director.

The funeral director is then required to start death record and submit to the attending physician by the next day. Directors will then file the death record with the local registrar of the district where the death occurred within 48 hours. 

Physicians will also be required to attempt to certify the death record within 24 hours of getting it. 

“MDHHS is committed to protecting the public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I am issuing this emergency order,” said MDHHS Robert  Gordon in a press release. “To inform sound decision-making and protect Michiganders, public health officials need accurate information about COVID-19 deaths as quickly as possible. I appreciate the work of our funeral home directors and physicians right now, and I am grateful to partner with them in taking quick action during this pandemic.”

Funeral directors must report all deaths using the state’s Electronic Death Records System

Also on Saturday, Spectrum Health extended its cancellation of non-emergency appointments, surgeries and procedures until April 20. People with questions should call their physician’s office.

COVID-19 presents with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most who contract it, symptoms are mild. Though anyone can get it and anyone can develop a serious case, the people most at risk to develop severe complications are the elderly and those with preexisting health problems. If you think you have coronavirus, quarantine yourself and your entire household. Unless you are in need of emergency help, like if you can’t breathe, do not go to the emergency room. Get advice from a doctor over the phone or a televisit and they will direct you on how to move forward.

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