Dire warnings from state officials as 6,900 new COVID-19 cases confirmed

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As Michigan again set another record for number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases announced in a single day, the state’s chief medical executive called the situation “very grim.”

“…This virus is out of control,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said at a Thursday afternoon press conference in Lansing. “There is wide community spread of COVID-19 across the state.”

Michigan’s coronavirus cases are surging, with a record 6,940 new cases announced Thursday alone. The state also recorded 45 more deaths linked to the virus.

In all, Michigan has now had 236,225 confirmed cases of the virus since it was first detected in the state in March and seen 7,811 related deaths.

Kent County alone confirmed 693 new cases, bringing its total to 20,871 since the start of the outbreak. It also added two more deaths to its tally for a total of 227.

Several other West Michigan counties also recorded additional deaths:

  • Berrien County: Two more deaths for 95 total; 3,769 total cases since March.
  • Branch County: Three more deaths for 16 total; 1,268 total cases.
  • Calhoun County: Two more deaths for 89 total; 3,967 total cases.
  • Ionia County: Three more deaths for 12 total; 1,292 total cases.
  • Muskegon County: One more death for 109 total; 4,150 total cases.
  • St. Joseph: One more death for 25 total; 1,707 total cases.

Wayne County, which has been hit hardest by the virus but does not currently have the highest rates of spread, confirmed 736 new cases and four more deaths for totals of 44,886 and 2,938, respectively. Also in southeast Michigan, Oakland County has had 27,967 total cases (654 more than the previous day) and 1,207 deaths (no change). Macomb County has had 24,248 total cases (626 more) and 1,083 deaths (two more).

On Wednesday, labs in Michigan tested 67,354 samples for the virus and 8,276 came back positive, a rate of 12.29%. The seven-day average of daily positive test percentages in Michigan has surpassed 12%, four times higher than the 3% public health officials say shows community spread is controlled.

Every region of the state is also seeing higher rates of new cases per million people per day, with the figures the highest in West Michigan (nearly 606), the Upper Peninsula (601) and Southwest Michigan (535).

The number of people hospitalized is rising. As of Thursday, 3,186 adult inpatients at Michigan hospitals were suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

The number of deaths each day is also trending up, which was expected to follow the increased numbers of cases and hospitalizations. With a seven-day average of 35 daily deaths, the rate is now seven times higher than it was in June, Khaldun said.

“As more people spend time inside, this is going to get worse,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said at the Thursday briefing, but added “there are real, concrete steps we can all take to get this under control.”

Saying their cases are mounting and some facilities are nearing capacity, leaders of Michigan hospitals on Thursday morning urged everyone to “do the right thing” to slow the spread of the virus: wash their hands frequently, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings, and wear masks in public.

Whitmer listed a few more things to remember, including not appropriately isolating after you have been exposed to the virus, attending small social gatherings and assuming your friends are as safe as you, assuming that because something is allowed it is safe, and following only some mitigation practices rather than all of them.

She reminded everyone that a mask mandate is in effect under an order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and emphasized that it has the force of law.

“I know people are tired of living like this, but we really have to double down,” Dr. Khaldun said. “We are potentially looking at some of the deadliest, most grim days of this entire pandemic ahead of us if we do not collectively change our behaviors.”

She and the governor said that people shouldn’t travel for Thanksgiving or host Thanksgiving gatherings with multiple households in attendance. Whitmer urged people to choose virtual options to connect for the holiday.

“Let’s do what we did in the spring and show the rest of the world Michiganders know how to take care of one other,” Whitmer said.

She said that if the numbers continue on the same trajectory, her administration may have to take further action, though she was not specific about what that may be.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has it, health officials want you to get tested. You can find a testing site near you at Michigan.gov/coronavirustest.

But Khaldun also noted that the huge number of cases is slowing contact tracing, so people who have had close contact with someone who tested positive may not know it as quickly. She and Whitmer urged people to download the new MI COVID Alert app to find out if they may have been exposed.

Ionia County, which says it has recorded more than 800 new coronavirus cases since Oct. 1, says it can’t keep up with contact tracing. Now, it says instead of calling everyone who tests positive, it will be emailing out short 15-minute surveys asking about symptoms and close contacts. Health department will then review the information collected and determine which cases warrant further investigation. The surveys will start going out Monday.

“We are asking all Ionia County citizens to fill out this survey if they receive it,” Ionia County Health Officer Ken Bowen said.

Similarly, Allegan County is asked those who have been exposed to or tested positive for the virus fill out forms online to help with contact tracing, saying the online option should be simpler for everyone.

With so many new cases, the Kent District Library said starting Monday, it will be closing its branches to in-person visits. You can still pickup books curbside and use online services.

  

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