GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State health officials on Saturday announced 1,601 more cases of the virus had been confirmed in Michigan and 221 more associated deaths recorded.
The state says 205 of the newly confirmed deaths were discovered while reviewing vital records.
Michigan has now confirmed a total of 548,069 cases of the virus since it was first detected in the state in March 2020 and recorded 14,291 deaths.
Officials say 463,106 people have recovered from COVID-19 as of Friday, meaning they are still alive a month after developing symptoms.
On Friday, labs in Michigan tested 49,830 samples for the virus and 2,911 were positive, a rate of 5.84%.
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 116 more cases for a total of 45,608 and recorded eight more deaths for 585 total.
Several other West Michigan counties also recorded additional deaths:
- Allegan County: One more death for 80 total; 6,070 total confirmed cases since March 2020.
- Berrien County: Five more deaths for 204 total; 9,802 total.
- Calhoun County: Four more deaths for 199 total; 7,589 total cases.
- Kalamazoo County: Nine more deaths for 266 total; 12,296 total cases.
- Montcalm County: Two more deaths for 78 total; 3,100 total cases.
- Muskegon County: Two more deaths for 283 total; 9,937 total cases.
- Ottawa County: Six more deaths for 294 total. 19,644 total cases.
- St. Joseph County: Two more deaths for 70 total; 3,839 total cases.
- Van Buren County: One more death for 81; 4,379 total cases.
Wayne County, home to Detroit and hit hardest by the virus, recorded 212 more cases for a total of 88,648 and 3,721 deaths (29 more than the previous day, Oakland County has had 60,497 total cases (146 more than the previous day) and 1,766 deaths (30 more). Macomb County has had 52,077 cases (186 more) and 1,722 deaths (24 more).
While coronavirus case numbers in Michigan are still higher than public health officials would like, things are getting better. The average rate of daily positive tests is dropping, the case rate appears to be back on the downtrend after a plateau, hospitalizations are declining and the number of deaths each day is slowly improving.
Throwing a wrench in the encouraging metrics is a variant of the virus labeled B.1.1.7 that has recently been found in a few people in Washtenaw County. The variant does not appear to cause more serious cases and it seems that the COVID-19 vaccines will stop it, but it is more transmissible and has led to surges in the United Kingdom, where it was first identified.
“We will likely see more and more cases of this and it will be harder to control the spread of it,” Michigan’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said at a press conference in Lansing. “And we don’t want to go back to where we were last April or where we were in the beginning of November when our hospitals were overwhelmed and hundreds of people were dying every day.”
Still, as the epidemic improves in Michigan, the state announced Friday that restaurant dining rooms will be allowed to reopen Feb. 1, but with a curfew and 25% capacity limit. Business leaders say that restriction is so tight that restaurant won’t be able to break even on dine-in service.
Also Friday, Robert Gordon stepped down as director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He did not say why. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer quickly replaced him with another MDHHS official, Elizabeth Hertel.