GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan on Saturday announced 6,892 more confirmed cases of coronavirus and 74 additional related deaths. In all, Michigan has now had 738,023 total cases since the virus was first detected the state in March 2020 and 16,500 related deaths.
Of the deaths announced Saturday, 57 were discovered during a review of death certificates to count any that had not already been reported to the state. These checks are conducted three times per week.
The state counts 587,283 patients as recovered; that estimate counts everyone still alive 30 days after developing symptoms. It does not account for the “long-haulers” who suffer symptoms, including loss of smell and taste, trouble breathing and brain fog, for months after contracting the virus.
The state has not yet released testing data for Friday.
Kent County confirmed 405 cases for a total of 56,315 since the start of the pandemic. The county has had 700 deaths total, and did not record any new deaths Saturday.
Deaths were also added in several other West Michigan counties:
- Allegan County: One more death for 97 total; 8,035 total confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
- Branch County: One more death for 86 total; 3,788 total cases.
- Cass County: One more death for 65 total; 4,272 total cases.
- Mecosta County: One more death for 25 total; 2,422 total cases.
- Muskegon County: Two more deaths for 305 total; 11,696 total cases.
- Newaygo County: One more death for 53 total; 3,432 total cases.
- Ottawa County: One more death for 338 total; 25,018 total cases.
- St. Joseph: One more death for 86 total; 4,749 total cases.
- Van Buren: One more death for 92 total; 5,587 total cases.
Wayne County, which has been hit hardest by the virus over the course of the pandemic and which is again posting some of the highest figures, confirmed 1,321 cases, bringing its total to 122,906 since the start of the pandemic, and reported 10 more deaths for a total of 4107. Neighboring Oakland County has had 83,989 confirmed cases (681 more than the previous day) and 1,978 deaths (10 more). Macomb County has had 75,533 cases (749 more) and 1960 deaths (7 more).
Michigan now has the worst coronavirus surge in the nation and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, warned during a Friday briefing that the case rate could climb higher than during the fall surge. The seven-day average of the test positivity rate is 18%, a full six times higher than public health officials want to see. Khaldun said the figure “indicates that there is now broad community spread.”
There are more confirmed cases of the more transmissible coronavirus variants here than any other state and the state is almost certainly not catching them all because not every sample is screened for the variants.
Hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last two weeks and Khaldun said hospitals are again implementing their surge plans.
“The overall trajectory is concerning. We have seen a day-over-day increases (in the number of inpatients) nearly every day for the last three to four weeks,” Spectrum Health Chief Operating Officer Brian Brasser told News 8 in a video call earlier this week. “Our average age of an inpatient through the fall surge … was 65 years old. Our average age now is 57.5. And so we are a pretty significant skewing younger, but thankfully, that’s also resulting in less ICU usage and less (ventilator) usage.”
But he noted that the West Michigan hospital system saw during previous surges that the severity of patients’ illness worsened the longer the surge continued.
He urged people to get vaccinated as soon as they can get an appointment.
“This is what’s going to help to lead us through this pandemic. We have this race against the variants, specifically, and the vaccine is so key,” Brasser said.
Calling on people to help combat the surge, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged everyone to avoid any social gatherings or dining indoors at restaurants for the next two weeks, though she did not issue a mandate to that effect. She also called on schools to go virtual for two weeks following spring break, particularly because people under the age of 19 are seeing particularly high case rates. Some West Michigan schools have said they will send high schools virtual, but many say they will continue in-person.
Whitmer has cited the limited use of ventilators among those hospitalized, the continuing low death rate and the accelerating vaccine rollout as her reasoning for not issuing stricter orders.
“An incredible summer, our Independence Day, normal life, these are all within reach,” Whitmer said. “The path is clear. But we’ve got to double down on our efforts now to slow the spread and get vaccinated. We have to hang on a bit longer.”
The state has received nearly 5.7 million vaccine doses and more than 5.1 million of those have been administered. About 40% of the state’s population over the age of 16 has received at least one shot. The goal is to reach 70%.
“We’ve got to get enough folks vaccinated to put this behind us,” Whitmer said. “I urge all eligible Michiganders to get vaccinated as soon as possible because it’s the most effective way to protect you and your family and get back to normal.”
The governor got her first dose Tuesday.