Coronavirus-related deaths in Michigan surpass 8,000

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan has confirmed 12,763 new cases of coronavirus and recorded 55 more deaths linked to the virus, the state says, which pushed the total number of deaths above 8,000.

The two-day totals announced Monday brought the total number of confirmed cases to 264,576 since the virus was first detected in the state in March and the tally of associated deaths to 8,049.

On Saturday, labs in Michigan tested 59,663 samples for the virus and 7,490 came back positive, a rate of 12.56%. On Sunday, they tested 57,431 samples and 7,553 were positive, 13.15%.

Wayne County, which has seen the most deaths linked to the virus, recorded 10 more for a total of 2,954. It also confirmed 2,081 more cases over the two days for a total of 47,792 since the start of the outbreak. Neighboring Oakland County has had 30,774 cases (1,335 more since data was reported Saturday) and 1,230 deaths (one more). Macomb County has had 26,852 cases (1,044 more) and 1,114 deaths (one more).

Kent County alone confirmed 1,367 new cases over the two days, bringing its total to 23,711 since March. It also added seven more deaths for a total of 250.

Several other West Michigan counties also confirmed additional deaths:

  • Allegan County: One more death for 14 total; 2,584 total cases since the start of the outbreak eight months ago.
  • Calhoun County: Four more deaths for 99 total; 4,303 total cases.
  • Kalamazoo County: One more death for 139 total; 6,347 total cases.
  • Mecosta County: One more death for seven total; 902 total cases.
  • Montcalm County: One more death for 17 total; 1,200 total cases.
  • Muskegon County: One more death for 111 total; 5,149 total cases.
  • Newaygo County: Two more deaths for 10 total; 1,132 total cases.
  • Oceana County: One more death for nine total; 905 total cases.
  • Ottawa County: Four more deaths for 96 total; 9,702 total cases.
  • St. Joseph County: One more death for 27 total; 1,842 total cases.

Every metric that demonstrates the spread of the virus is showing negative trends. The number of new cases per million people per day is up well above the spring peak.

The average percentage of daily positive tests is closing in on 13%, more than four times higher than the 3% public health officials say demonstrates community spread is controlled.

Hospitalizations keep rising, with more than 3,500 inpatients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 as of Monday.

The average of daily deaths is seven times higher than it was in June.

When it comes to re-infection, it happens, but not very often. The Kent County Health Department says it’s a low risk.

Short-term immunity for the coronavirus, after first testing positive, is expected to last at least three months but can go as many as six.

There have been only a handful of cases of re-infection in Kent County, and it is not recommended to get tested again inside of that three-month immunity window unless you’re feeling direct symptoms.

“For those situations, we for sure want people to get tested again,” said Brian Hartl, an epidemiologist with KCHD. “If they’ve been sick before and had a time lag after that, and they develop symptoms again, we for sure want them to get tested again. But we haven’t seen a lot–maybe 10 cases or so–that have shown evidence of re-infection.”

HOSPITAL CEO: ‘WE’RE IN FULL-BLOWN CRISIS’

As things keep getting worse, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday announced several new restrictions starting Wednesday and lasting three weeks. Under the epidemic order, restaurants must halt dine-in services, movie theaters must close, high school sports are suspended, and social gatherings should be limited to no more than two households.

Saying cases, deaths and hospitalizations statewide have been “escalating at a frightening rate” and that cases in Montcalm County had jumped 50% in a single week, Mid-Michigan District Health Department Health Officer Marcus Cheatham welcomed the epidemic order.

“Without some kind of change it is going to be twice as bad by Thanksgiving and three times worse by Christmas. It has already happened in a lot of other states,” he wrote in part in a Sunday email to News 8.

He also noted that the restrictions won’t work unless people get on board.

“…People need to understand how serious the situation is, and to stop doing things that spread the virus right now,” Cheatham said. “It is really time for people to change their plans now to reduce any unnecessary gathering.”

“This isn’t an issue of trying to take away freedoms. This is a public health crisis and for some reason that conversation has gotten lost and we’re trying to raise it again,” Rob Casalou, president and CEO of Trinity Health, which owns Mercy Health, told News 8 Monday.

He explained that some 500 employees within his health system are out sick, infected with COVID-19. Because other states are surging, too, Trinity can’t bring in staff from elsewhere to help cover the gaps.

“I think Spectrum has been very vocal, as has Metro, that West Michigan’s in a crisis phase. We’re nearly out of beds,” Casalou said. “West Michigan is in full-blown crisis and east Michigan is now catching up. We have a window here to kind of bend this curve again like we did in April. If we don’t take advantage of the window to do this, then all bets are off when we get to the Christmas holiday.”

He said the state Legislature needs to get on board mitigation orders.

“The big message is that one we need leadership at all levels of government to get on the same page,” he said. “We need to take the politics out. We need to recognize this for what it is and we do have the ability to stop this. That’s the whole message: We do have the ability. And I understand that, you know, encouraging people to do the right thing is what some would prefer. How’s that working so far? Not so well. We need stronger restrictions in order to really guide us to get this curve bent before we hit the holidays.

Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health, which has more than 320 COVID-19 inpatients, on Monday urged everyone to comply with the new restrictions so it could maintain capacity and provide adequate care for everyone who needs it.

“As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise at an alarming rate and hospital admissions surge, Spectrum Health urges Michigan residents to comply with the new three-week emergency epidemic orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Doing so will help ensure that Spectrum Health has the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients as well as those with other conditions requiring immediate attention, such as heart attacks or car crash injuries. We join health systems throughout the state in asking everyone to do their part now to slow the spread and ensure we can care for our patients and communities.”

Spectrum Health

SCHOOL OUTBREAKS

The new restrictions also force high schools and colleges to shift to remote learning.

A state list updated Monday shows 250 outbreaks associated with schools — most of them at high schools, colleges or universities. Rockford Public Schools’ high school and freshman center continue to have the largest outbreak of K-12 school in the state, with 40 students and staff members infected.

Elsewhere in Kent County, there are 25 cases linked to Byron Center High School and 22 at East Kentwood High School. There are also outbreaks of fewer than 20 cases at the following high schools:

  • Cedar Springs High School
  • East Kentwood High School
  • Forest Hills Central High School
  • Forest Hills Northern High School
  • Grandville High School
  • Grand Rapids Christian High School
  • Kenowa Hills High School
  • Lowell High School
  • South Christian High School
  • Sparta High School
  • Wyoming High School

More than 1,880 cases have been associated with Michigan State University, centered around off-campus housing, and more than 830 have been recorded at Western Michigan University. The University of Michigan has tracked nearly 1,000 cases in the last 28 days alone.

Even though kindergarten through eighth grades are not required to go virtual under the MDHHS order, some districts are doing it anyway. Greenville Public Schools said it was making the switch after getting advice to do so from the Mid-Michigan District Health Department. All grades will be virtual effective Thursday through Jan. 8. There will be no school Wednesday as teachers get training for the move.

Citing guidance from the Ottawa County Health Department, Jenison Public Schools said it will move kindergarten through eighth grade virtual starting Nov. 30 through Dec. 8, when it hopes to bring all students back.

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

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

  

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