915 coronavirus cases confirmed as positivity rate keeps declining


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan on Wednesday reported 915 more confirmed cases of coronavirus and 12 more related deaths.

In all, the virus has now infected 570,895 people in Michigan since it was first detected in the state 11 months ago and been linked to 14,977 deaths.

Kent County recorded two more deaths for a total of 627 and confirmed 104 more cases, bringing the total to 47,415. Ottawa County reported one more death, making its total 307. It has had 20,484 confirmed cases.

Wayne County, where Detroit is, confirmed 123 more cases of the virus for a total of 92,021 in the last 11 months. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 3,837. Neighboring Oakland County has had 62,801 cases (89 more than the previous day) and 1,825 deaths (no change). Macomb County has had 53,743 cases (84 more) and 1,807 deaths (one more).

On Tuesday, labs in Michigan tested 34,352 samples for the virus and 1,128 were positive, a rate of 3.28%. 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.

The seven-day average of the positivity rate has dropped to near 4%. Public health officials look for a rate below 3% to show community spread is controlled.

In fact, just about all of Michigan’s coronavirus metrics continue to improve, with the case and positivity rates both on the decline for four weeks. According to a Tuesday Michigan Department of Health and Human Services update, the state now ranks 23rd in the nation in highest number of cases, down one spot from the previous week, and 49th in highest case rate, down two spots.

Hospitalizations keep dropping, with only 6.3% of all beds in the state serving COVID-19 patients, down one percentage point from the previous week. Michigan ow ranks 37th in the nation in hospitalization rate as a percent of total beds.

Between Jan. 24 and Jan. 30, 286 deaths in the state were linked to COVID-19, 87 fewer than the day before. The state ranks 20th in the nation in highest number of deaths, down two spots from the previous week.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s chief medical officer Dr. Matt Biersack said during a Wednesday morning virtual briefing that Kent County’s recovery from a case surge continues. He said the Grand Rapids hospital had only eight COVID-19 inpatients, down from more than 80 at the peak in November. He added that the countywide seven-day average of the positivity rate has dropped to about 4.2%.

“All this reflects just a great decrease in just overall disease prevalence within our community, and we’re very excited to see these trends,” Biersack said. “And I think that it’s come at considerable efforts that have been made by the general public, that have been made by employers, the government, public health agencies. And it certainly has been a challenging path, but I believe one that’s now definitely reaping considerable benefit.”

The hospital system said it has been working quickly to get vaccines out to help slow the spread of the virus and, crucially, combat variants.

“Demand (for vaccines) is really, really high,” Biersack said. “Unfortunately at this time, demand outstrips supply.”

Michigan has now recorded 61 cases of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 in 11 counties, including one at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia that was announced Wednesday.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said she was “very concerned” about the increasing number of confirmed variant cases in Michigan. She said that if people don’t remain vigilant, “we could see a rise in cases, hospitalizations and deaths similar to what they saw in the U.K.,” where the variant was first identified.

B.1.1.7 spreads more quickly than the dominant coronavirus strain, but doesn’t currently appear to cause cases that are more severe. The COVID-19 vaccines being used in the United States appear to be effective against it.


Khaldun has been appointed to serve on the White House COVID-19 Equity Task Force, which according to a Wednesday release from the Biden administration will provide recommendations for addressing the disparate impact of the virus on minority communities and for combating future health care inequities.

“So honored to be nominated by President Biden to serve on the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force along such accomplished colleagues,” Khaldun tweeted in response to her selection. “Much work to do, but I am ready!”

Khadun was involved in a Michigan task force, chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, that focused on limiting COVID-19 disparate impact along racial lines.

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