GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan has reported 1,156 more confirmed cases of coronavirus and 68 related deaths.
The Saturday update from the state brings the total number of confirmed cases in Michigan to 587,581 since the virus was first detected here in March 2020. Of the 68 deaths reported Saturday, 62 of them came from a review of vital records, bringing the total number of associated deaths to 15,522.
To date, 541,258 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Michigan.
On Friday, labs tested 35,949 samples for the virus and 1,216 were positive, a percentage of 3.38%. 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 59 more cases for a total of 48,762. The number of deaths there increased by four for a total of 653.
In Wayne County, which has been hit hardest by the virus, 196 more cases were confirmed for a total of 94,524 since the start of the pandemic. The number of deaths increased by 11 for a total of 3,924. Neighboring Oakland County has had 64,461 confirmed cases (115 more than the previous day) and 1,888 deaths (nine more). Macomb County has had 55,114 cases (129 more) and 1,863 deaths (six more).
Michigan continues to see its coronavirus metrics looking better, with the case, positivity, hospitalization and death rates all trending downward. The improvements in those metrics have triggered every region of the state to drop from the highest risk level, E, to the second-highest, D, in the last several days.
The vaccine rollout is also making progress. So far, about 15% of people in Michigan over the age of 16 have gotten at least their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Still, at the rate the state is receiving doses from the federal government, we are six months away from herd immunity, public health officials told lawmakers this week. The Biden administration has promised to speed up the flow. Emergency use approval of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine, expected from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration soon, could help that happen.
The newest obstacle the virus has thrown at us is its mutations, including the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom. Data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Michigan with more than 330 cases of that variant.
The state says B.1.1.7 cases have been identified in 19 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Additionally, more than half the cases are within the state prison system; the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia has reported a large outbreak of variant cases.
B.1.1.7 is expected to become the nation’s dominant coronavirus strain by the end of March, the CDC says. The way to fight it is the same as fighting the current dominant strain: washing your hands frequently, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask around others and registering so you can get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn. Health officials have also stressed getting tested for the virus if you’re showing COVID-19 symptoms, may have been exposed or have traveled outside Michigan in the last two weeks. This will help officials find and isolate B.1.1.7 outbreaks, slowing the variant’s spread.